Sports

Right on target

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Sequim-area paintball players help Team USA triumph in Philippines tournament

by MARK ST.J. COUHIG
Sequim Gazette

Since he was 10 years old, Sequim’s Ryan Tucker has traveled the world playing paintball, including two years spent as a member of the Amsterdam Existence.

That required him to fly back and forth to Europe many times — a heady experience for any American teenager.

But that pales when compared to his most exciting paintball experience, a particularly satisfying victory recently earned against competitors from around the world.

In the summer of 2010 Tucker, 18, joined some of his paintball pals to participate in an international tournament in the Philippines — and they came away as champs.

The Americans made the first contact, approaching officials with the Paintball Asia League Series “about six months before the event,” Tucker said.

He said, “They were most pleased to have us there as the first team from the USA to ever compete on Philippines soil.”

Starting out rough

Tucker explained the tournament format, saying there are four divisions at these events. “Division 1 is the most prestigious and is what we competed in,” he said.

The tournament started out “rough in the preliminaries. We just squeaked into finals as the last place team. When finals started we knew what had to be done. It came down to Team USA versus Team Datis of Iran,” Tucker said (and added a small aside: “How ironic with current politics.”)

Team USA beat Datis in overtime, which meant they would be in the championship game, facing off against Australia.

The game again went into overtime and again the Americans were the victors.

“We took first place in the highest division, which was incredible seeing as we just squeaked into the finals. To this day it has been one of the most joyous events of my life,” Tucker said. “This was really special because it was a really hard-fought win.”

It wasn’t all about paintball, either, with the boys enjoying a good dose of culture shock. “The Philippines has been the most ‘Third World’ country we have traveled to play in and perhaps the most enjoyable,” Tucker said.

Team USA by PBRACK

Tucker said the formal name of the team he played with in the Philippines was “Team USA by PBRACK,” with “Team USA” signifying their home country and “PBRACK” added to recognize the team’s sponsor.

PBRACK, a clothing company, was started by Tucker’s brother Tommy in 2005 to promote “extreme sports” apparel. Tucker said the original idea was simply to sell paintball merchandise, but since then the company has expanded into other lines. (Check out the goods at PBRACK.com.)

Tucker, a Peninsula College student via Sequim High’s Running Start program, is now a member of the Portland Uprising, a new semi-pro team that also is sponsored by his brother’s company. This month the team was named an official member of the National Professional Paintball League (NPPL), which means they’ll be competing with teams from around the country.

The next big event is the 2011 NPPL Surf City USA Open, which kicks off April 1 in Huntington Beach, Calif.

Event organizers anticipate more than 150 teams will participate in the games, which take place right on the famous beach. Tucker says the event should receive extensive coverage from ESPN and Spike TV.

Reach Mark Couhig at mcouhig@sequimgazette.com.

 

 

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