By Thomas Votaw Mid-West Correspondent
On September 11th, 2001 at 8:45 am, I sat in my 10th grade wood-shop class and watched on a small tube television as a plane crashed into the first of the Twin Towers. 15 years later, almost to the minute, I am listening to a recording of the late Whitney Houston sing the National Anthem as we are about to start the last paintball event of the season at Dimension Paintball in Youngstown, Ohio. Just like our country, Paintball has changed many times in the last 15 years. There was a large growth to the sport in the late 90’s all the way up until the late 2000’s. We then saw a bottoming out near 2008 when the economy dropped, and now we have seen a small resurgence as of late. The SEEDs Series has grown from that resurgence to the league it is today.
The SEEDs Series has been running since 2010 and every year owner Chris Kudler invests thousands of dollars so local players have a fair and fun event to play. The SEEDS Series has been a APPA qualified event since their 2011 season when they only had 3 and 5 man. Now the series has 4 divisions. They have a 3 and 5 man, xball and a 50cal young guns event. They have also made many improvements to the field itself including full set of NXL bunkers, scoreboards, and team pits.
There are 3 teams teams here today for division 4 Xball. 2 NCPA College teams and a local team from the Pittsburgh area. Dimension Paintball runs their xball matches the same way Chris used to play them in the 2000’s. Each match is two 6 minute halves, no overtime.
The first match of the day was between Akron University and The Reapers. Akron came out quick and scored a long first point with captain Ben Todd and Matthew Berger pulling out a 4 on 2. Followed by a long point stalemate that ran out the clock and took them to the half. After the break, The Reapers came right back while pushing down the field to tie the game 1-1. The match would end in a tie with both teams knowing they would have to win their next match to move on to the finals in a tournament with only 3 teams.
The second match was between West Virginia University WVU and Akron University. In the first half of this match Akron put up two quick points, but made a mistake when the clock ticked down and only had one player at the start box. WVU quickly took advantage and went into the half down 1-2. During the second half Akron solidified their lead securing the win 4-2.
Match three was between WVU and The Reapers. The Reapers controlled the first half by taking 3 points in a row and not letting WVU dictate the tempo. After the break, WVU came out swinging, unfortunately it was just a little bit too late. The Reapers ended up winning the match 4-2, sending themselves and Akron University to the finals.
The finals started with another slow first point with The Reapers ending up hanging the flag. Akron decided to take a timeout to talk about their plans going into a crucial point before the half. After their timeout, Akron marched down the field to tie it up going into halftime. After the half, Akron again played smart defense and won a long point to go up 2-1 where The Reapers just couldn’t come back. The last point, The Reapers knew they had to score quickly, so they played with very good aggression, but it’s hard to move against a team Anchored by Ben Todd and Thomas Hoster in the center of the field locking it down.
Akron University would win their first tournament of the season. The Reapers ended up taking second place and the coveted series champion trophy. Overall, it was a wonderful local tournament on a beautiful day. Competition was fierce and friendships even more so.
While teams were packing up I had a chance to speak with the captains of each team. I wanted to ask them the basics; what tournaments they were playing, sponsors, and if there was anyone they wanted to thank.
I started by talking to Drew Irvin of WVU. Drew said they had been a school club since 2013 and that their goals included solidifying their roster and win a local event with just school players. The WVU team would like to thank West Virginia University, Pittsburgh Paintball Park, and Dimension Paintball for the wonderful places to practice and the help on and off the field.
I then had the chance to speak with Derik ( Midge) Dolgos, captain of The Reapers. Derik told me they have been a team in the Pittsburgh area since 2013 and are self sponsored. Their goal is to play a MSXL or NXL next season.
Finally, I had the chance to speak with Matthew Berger of Akron University. Matthew informed me that they’re planning on playing 3 to 4 NCPA regional events this year in the MWGL region and then will head to nationals in April of 2017. Their only Goal is 1st place since last year they took 4th, which left them wanting more. Matthew said they wanted to thank Akron University, Smith & Richardson Manufacturing, Dropzone LTD, and last but not least they wanted to thank Chris Painter their adviser at the University of Akron.
If you want to find out more about the SEEDs series, please head to www.DimensionPaintball.com where you can get info on tournament dates, link to their social media, or take the survey and help Chris shape the local tournament scene in Northeast Ohio.