Dozens of local middle school students learned this spring what classmates Tom Cooke and Matt Mayer already knew – playing paintball is far more than just experiencing a militaristic-style battle.


    Dozens of local middle school students learned this spring what classmates Tom Cooke and Matt Mayer already knew – playing paintball is far more than just experiencing a militaristic-style battle.

    There’s the physical fitness achieved from nearly constant motion and crouching knee bends, teamwork, strategic thinking and communication skills that develop and just being part of something while meeting new kids. Paintball outings draw in parents who get involved, along with teachers immersed in a whole new setting after the final bell of the day rings.

    Last spring, Alfred G. Waters Middle School sixth-graders Cooke and Mayer started a paintball club that eventually drew more than 70 students to try something new. The club was a hit, and will continue next school year at the campus located on Cedar Lane Road in Middletown.

    With the help of their parents, the 12-year-olds put together a proposal last summer to add a paintball club to their new school’s list of activities. The Meadow Glen neighbors had played for several years, and figured others would be interested.

   Once school began in 2009, Waters library specialist Christy Payne helped the boys navigate the intra-school process required to make the club official. Cooke and Mayer were at the right school to launch the venture – Payne had served in the Army, and principal Victoir Cahoon previously played paintball.

   Once the club was approved, at least one weekend event per month was contested through the summer. More than 70 attended the first outing at Mansion House Farms Paintball on Porter Road in Bear. Also, one afterschool meeting per month was held during the school year to discuss rules, safety and all things paintball..

   “The best part for me was meeting people and making friends I never would have know without the club,” Cooke said.

   Parents and teachers got involved, and everyone was on the same level playing field when it came to paintball.

   “It was good to see them all in a different light,” Payne said. “We have all these academic clubs, which are great, but this brought out some kids who probably wouldn’t have taken part in them. Some students had experience and others had none, and they all came together nicely and formed something new and unique to the school.”

   Club founders Cooke and Mayer play the game throughout the year, traveling out of state to test their skills.

   “The more you practice and play, the more you figure what’s the next move to make,” Mayer said. “I like to move slowly and communicate with teammates about playing it smart.”