Paintballin’ like it’s nothin’

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Sheldon Carley

As balls of paint fly past him like bullets, some traveling at a speed of almost 200-300 feet per second, LMC student Carlos Torres completely forgets the world around him. School, work, relationships fade away in this moment as Torres scrambles on all fours in the middle of a field, ducking behind inflatable bunkers for cover. All he hears is the call of his teammates; all he sees is his next target or move. Carlos Torres is absorbed in the game of paintball.
Torres, 22, currently majoring in communications at LMC, is an athlete on the brink of professional success in the sport of paintball.
Torres plays and coaches for Oakland Fuzion, a semi-professional paintball team based in Sacramento that plays in tournaments throughout the nation. Torres’ desire to play professionally in the sport has made his life characterized by intense dedication and ongoing personal sacrifice. When not playing paintball and attending classes, Torres dedicates his time to filming and editing videos for his production company, Canadiamedia.
Born in Canada, Torres grew up in British Columbia and moved to California with his mother at the age of 10. It was in Canada that Torres’ two passions in life, paintball and film, began to develop.
Torres explained that when he was 14 years old he spent a vacation back in Canada and was first introduced to the sport of paintball by his brother-in-law.
“We played paintball in the woods every Sunday for a month and a half,” said Torres, “And at the end of the vacation, we decided to enter a local tournament.”
Torres and his team of fellow beginners, playing with “cheap guns from Wal-Mart,” not knowing the tournament was actually designed for professional or experienced paintballs.
“We came in dead last and didn’t win one point,” remembered Torres, laughing at the memory, “We had no idea what we were doing and people were actually trying to tell us what to do so we could win a match.”
Torres was hardly discouraged at the initial failure and retells the experience with a grin on his face. The tournament was Torres’ first introduction into competitive paintball and a popular variation of paintball called speedball.
Speedball is a fast-paced version of the game played on small fields with inflatable man-made bunkers where players attempt to eliminate the opposing team and capture a flag.
While returning back home to Millbrae after his dismal first tournament, Torres described how he became hooked on the sport and spent his time “watching paintball videos and learning as much as I could.”
Paintball became Torres’ biggest focus throughout high school and he began playing for a variety of lower level paintball teams.
The sport demanded a level of dedication and sacrifice that was hard on the young student and even made his parents skeptical of the sport in the beginning.
“I missed every single dance in high school, except for my Senior Prom,” said Torres. “I missed friends’ birthday parties, and would literally be gone from Thursday to Monday playing tournaments.”
Torres had to work extremely hard throughout his high school career to maintain his grades, often completing homework on the road and working closely with his teacher to make up late work.
The sacrifices paid off when Torres was given the chance to play with a semi-professional team based out of San Diego in his senior year of high school in 2009.
It was at this time that Torres began to develop his signature quick style of play. Torres plays the position of a front man or snake player, meaning that he goes farther down to the opposing side of the field than almost any other player.
Torres’ position calls for him to be quick and agile, and Torres developed a style of play built on his speed.
“He never stops moving,” explained Dylan Boyum, a friend and fellow teammate of Torres. “It makes him more fun to watch as a spectator, because he’s always making moves.”
Despite his success and getting more notice from the professional paintball community, Torres experienced a tough hurdle in the sport that he loved when at the end of 2009 he decided to take a break from the sport and quit the semi-professional team.
“I was burned out from paintball,” said Torres. “I was flying down to San Diego almost every other weekend for practice and I felt like I was missing out on the normal things people do my age.”
Torres ended up taking a few months hiatus from the sport and spent his time working and catching up with friends.
Soon, however, Torres found himself itching to get back into the game.
“I felt like I was missing a purpose,” said Torres.
The following paintball season in 2010, Torres was offered a chance that would change his paintball career forever– the opportunity to play for Oakland Fuzion, an up-and-coming paintball team that was local and a much better fit for Torres.
Owned and operated by Feddy and Nita Cummins, the couple instilled a core set of values and morals for their organization based on principles of family and mutual respect.
“It was a completely different experience. The Fuzion organization is like a family,” said Torres. “Suddenly I didn’t want to win just to win; I didn’t want to let my family down.”
Three years later, Torres has become so much a part of the Fuzion organization that he now acts as co-coach, assisting the Cummins and taking on the role of marketing the team with his production company, Canadiamedia.
Canadiamedia, which Torres started in 2007, now releases videos on YouTube of Fuzion playing in tournaments and practices throughout the country.
Torres’ second passion after paintball is media and film.
“I love media and I want to transfer from LMC and go to St. Mary’s to major in communications,” said Torres. “When I was little my parents bought me my first camera and I would just go around taking pictures of the woods in Canada.”
Torres recently even used his filming talents to aid the local LMC community, as he worked on a project with the LMC library to create introductory videos featured on the college’s library website.
“Next semester, I’m hoping to create some more videos with the library for new students coming to LMC,” said Torres.
As Torres continues to excel in both paintball and film, he looks forward to the experiences ahead of him. While Fuzion is still currently playing at the semi-professional level in paintball, the team is only about a season away from making the jump to a professional team. Torres recently even played as a guest player in his first-ever professional tournament, guesting for the San Francisco Explicit, a paintball team based out of San Francisco.
“I am very grateful for being able to get into a sport where I have a chance to become a professional athlete,” said Torres. “Not a lot of people ever get that chance.”