Paintball enthusiasts desire growth from Keyser residents

Matthew Sokol
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Devin Van Skiver competes last season in the Amateur Paintball Event Series at Pittsburgh Paintball Park, in Pittsburgh.

KEYSER—Imagine hearing the sound of paintballs flying around at a nearby establishment. Those sounds are missing in  Keyser right now. 

George Minnick and Keith Smoot are working on filling the void in town. Both paintball enthusiasts coach a team right outside the Keyser area.  

Smoot runs a team named the Keyser Karnage, part of the Eastern paintball League. The team plays at Paintball Adventure Park in Taneytown, Maryland, or in Pittsburgh Paintball Park in Pittsburgh. 

The Keyser Karnage squad was established in May 2012. 

The Keyser Karnage squad pose for a photo during their season last year.

Minnick lives in Cresaptown, and runs the K2 team. Minnick's goal is to find local Keyser talent rather than go out to Baltimore to play and compete.  

The K2 squad started last June and is working on growing the number of local players on the team. 

"We've been practicing and playing down in Baltimore,  which is a 2 1/2 hour drive each way," said Minnick "We do this because there's really not many teams up here. I have reached out to people in Keyser to get players." 

Minnick wants residents to see past the stereotypes about the sport he enjoys.  

"We are trying to get more people out to play paintball but it has got a bad conception of being a violent sport," said Minnick. "It's a false perception of the sport. Paintball is a worldwide sport." 

Building up the Community 

Minnick and Smoot are friends outside the game and both want to see the number of local players grow in Keyser.  

Smoot says that his team consists mostly of players outside of Keyser but they do a lot of traveling.

"I know George is trying to draw more attention from young players in the Keyser area," said Smoot. "Growing up, I would play in Keyser like at Knobley farms. The issue with paintball is that it is not a cheap sport. We have to travel right now for practices and scrimmage but it would be very nice to have more competitive teams in the area." 

Smoot gave Minnick a key piece of advice before K2 started.  His son Devin is now 28 and Seth is 23.  

"George really didn't want his son to get taken advantage of," said Smooth. "I just put the idea in his head was like hey want to start a team yourself." 

Minnick took his friend's advice and both of his sons play on K2.  

Growing the game locally 

Minnick's sons might be involved in the game but the youth of Keyser isn't following suit at the moment.  

Seth VanSkiver competes at the FRACTION OPEN at NR paintball facility in Severn, Maryland, May 15.

"There really isn't a lot going on right now with paintball locally," said Minnick. "The kids are playing video games. I would like to see for this area is more people come out and get more face-to-face interaction." 

Shane Nelson, Devin VanSkiver, Seth VanSkiver. Nathan Bowman, and Paul Lee and George Minnick competes last season in the Amateur Paintball Event Series at Pittsburgh Paintball Park, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Minnick says he currently sees the range from 30 to 40 year-olds playing outside the Keyser area.  

Children will play paintball during birthday parties but recreationally there is a lack of younger players, according to Minnick.  

Smoot also noted that paintball may not be the cheapest sport. He doesn't want that to deter participation in Keyser.  

To find more information about the Keyser Karnage and K2 squad, follow them on Facebook @kkarnge.  

For more information on the K2 squad, follow @K2.pb. 

  — Matthew Sokol (he/him) is a journalist with the Mineral Daily News Tribune. Story ideas? I want to hear them. Please email me at msokol@gannett.com. Follow me on Twitter @MatthewSokol95