You do what??

The trials of being a female paintball player
by Sara Brunsell

As a female, you are trained in a certain way. This generally includes some sort of sense of being nice, gentle, and feminine. To most people this also includes not doing things which can cause bruises, welts, and can get you dirty. Which makes it really hard to explain to people why you decide to play paintball. 

Like many girls, I got into the sport through my boyfriend. Not that he urged me in any way to play except for the first time when we played rec down at Challenge Park. And that was mainly me playing around while he tried out, swore at, and fixed his new marker. But he is the president of the National Collegiate Paintball Association, and so in the many events he attends, he likes to bring girls with. Some sort of a status thing, I think. So I ended up attending many events. I gradually started watching it more and more, and was really was drawn into the idea of getting more women in the sport. Then, at Chicago Open, I was given the opportunity of getting a press pass so that I could go on the field to take pictures of the NCPA All-Stars. This increased my interest incredibly, about journalism, and paintball in general. And then a random trip to a paintball field brought the Black Widows, the local all-female team, to my attention.

Eventually I talked with Kate, our captain, and met with the team at Polar Bear 3 and decided to join. Almost immediately, I found out about some of the drawbacks of playing on an all girls team. The problem being that its fairly hard to find 6 girls who can all get along. Not that it is easy with guys, but guys don't tend to be as emotional. Nor do men have PMS. So immediately I found myself playing for the team, and playing in the Polar Bear 5 man before I even had a chance to practice with the team. But before I could play, I had to face another problem...finding appropriate clothing that would fit someone my size. I'm an unusual size for women's clothes, which makes finding paintball clothing, designed for men largely, even more difficult. Since I have the figure of a toothpick, finding small enough pants that are long enough took a few hours. And to this day I've been meaning to tailor my kneepad straps so that they are actually tight. Some of the packs that I was using before I got my own small one, could fit around me twice. And I recently got a free jersey at a bar in Orlando...its an might work as a dress.

There are also some benefits of being a female paintball player. Mainly the recognition, and ease of sponsorship. Many places are looking to get more women in the sport, and will sponsor teams in order to aid that. It surely helped me be able to play that I did not have to spend as much money. And after two or three tournaments, everyone knew who I was. Which was nice compared to only being recognized in association with my boyfriend. And there is a sense of camaraderie between female paintball players. Not that we all like each other, but we respect each other for playing a sport that is male dominated. 

Now, back to what I was saying at the start. Now, I've always been a bit of a tomboy, but it seems that getting bruises still disturbs people, such as my parents. And my co-workers think I'm nuts when I show them my welts and bruises. I try insisting that they look a lot worse than they felt, but most people don't believe that. It seems that people are reluctant to accept that sane, normal women, can dress unattractively (by their standards), play out in the mud, and get dirty and bruised, and have fun doing so. So maybe I'm not normal, but I definitely love it. The only thing I need is to devise a protective bra. But other than that, bruises and scars I can take. 

Anyways, I urge you women to go out and try paintball, and you guys to take your girls out and show them it (but don't push them...its really not for everyone). It really doesn't hurt as bad as it looks, and its definitely worth a few bruises here and there.


by Sara Brunsell - Team Black Widows - Nov.10, 2002


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