There are those who play paintball on the weekends or at somebody's birthday party when they rent a field for a couple hours.
And then there are those like Clearwater's Alex Spence, who plays professional paintball.
Like most players, paintball started out as a hobby for Spence. It soon became a passion, which led to tournaments. A few years ago, Spence joined the Tampa Bay Damage, a touring team of paintball players who take the extreme sport seriously.
"It's a pretty big adrenaline rush,'' Spence, 22, said. "Once you start getting into it, where you get to compete and travel around with a bunch of friends, nothing beats that.''
The latest trip was to Chicago for the National Professional Paintball League's Super 7 World Series. There were nearly 100 teams overall at the Memorial Day tournament, but there were only 18 pro division teams.
After eight games in its bracket, the Damage played in the championship game on Monday. The team, which is based at PSI Extreme Sports in Largo, won the prestigious tournament.
Aside from Spence, the team members are Bryan Smith, C.J. Botsolas, Chad Busiere, Ramzi El-Yousef, Daniel Holliday, Jacob Edwards, Jason Edwards, Justin Rabackoff and Mike Carthy. The coaches are Paul Richards, Joey Blute and Bill Lofthouse. Spence, Botsolas, El-Yousef and Busiere are the only original members.
The team was ranked ninth nationally in the NPPL rankings before the Chicago Open.
"We started in Division II back in 2004,'' Spence said. "Once we started getting better and moving up we added some other players.''
The Damage players are considered professional because they are mostly sponsored and keep any prize money.
They usually practice on Thursday nights at PSI Extreme Sports and play weekend tournaments in Lakeland. Spence said the team is training for another national tournament later this month.
The County Golf Association held a tournament on May 27 at East Lake Country Club's South Course. The regular division gross winner was John Lisenbee, who shot 70. The regular division net winner was Steve Bennett, who shot 66. The senior gross champions were Bill Johnson, Mitch Bentley and Walt Stanley, who shot 78. The net winner was Al Furtek, who shot 65. The ladies net winner was Lorrie Post, who shot 76.
• The 18th annual Innisbrook amateur tournament will be held July 3-5 in Palm Harbor. The 54-hole tournament will be divided into flights after 36 holes. For more information, contact Doug Laseter at (727) 942-5557 or [email protected]
• Holes-in-one: Marvin Kollross aced the 110-yard eighth hole at Tarpon Springs Golf Course with a 9-iron. It was his third ace. At Largo Golf Course, Rick Brewer of St. Petersburg aced the 105-yard 16th hole on May 26 using an 8-iron. Peter Gibson of Clearwater also aced the 105-yard 16th hole on May 28 using a pitching wedge. Jay Snivley of Largo aced the 105-yard sixth hole on May 31 using a gap wedge.
• The Tides Women's Golf Association held a nine-hole tournament on June 1. Beverly Paplia won the event with a 33.
The Arthritis Foundation Memorial Day tournament was held at East Lake Woodlands Country Club on May 28-31. The men's 3.5 doubles winners were Franek Gajdeczka and Bruce Insana. The 4.0 doubles champs were Gerard Kelly and Terry Montville. The 4.5 winners were Michael Erbe and Tim Obrien. The 5.0 winners were Mike Hooper and Josh Melton. The women's 3.0 doubles winners were Rochelle Daly and Barbara Doten. The 3.5 winners were Pamela Hodges and Carrie Mahony. The 4.0 winners were Jane Robinson and Linda Thomson. And the 4.5 winners were Judi Alford and Karen Olson. The mixed 5.0 division winners were Matthew Holsopple and Jane Robinson.
The St. Petersburg Half Century softball league ended its season in May, but the team is still looking for players. There are summer ball sessions every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9 a.m. at Northshore Park until Oct. 22 for players between 49-74 years old. The fall season begins Oct. 25. For information, go to www.stpetehalfcentury.com.