Some high school athletes play football, some wrestle, some play baseball.
Charlie Enne is a competitive paintballer.
Ever since his father’s friend introduced him to the sport about five years ago, Enne, 17, a senior at Southampton High School, has been hooked on the often overlooked sport. Earlier this month, from November 7-11, Enne and his father, Joe McLaughlin, competed together in the National Xball League World Cup for the second year in a row, held this year in Kissimmee, Florida, just outside the Gaylord Palms Resort.
Competing on the High Velocity Paintball, or HVP, Wrecking Crew team based out of Bay Shore, Enne and his father helped the team place second overall in the Division 4 Speed Ball standings. The National Xball League, or NXL, is the United States’s professional paintball circuit. The league consists of a Professional Division, consisting of the best players the sport has to offer, that extends down to the beginner ranks of Division 5 for those newer to the tournament atmosphere. Speed Ball is a five-on-five timed competition. Teams need to not only eliminate all of the opposing team’s players but also hit a buzzer on the opposite side of the field in less than five minutes.
Wrecking Crew went 7-1 and was one of the top three teams in its bracket so it moved on to the best-of-three finals against Redemption out of Argentina. Redemption proved to be a tough team, winning the first two matches in 3:09 and 1:56 to win the world title.
Despite the loss, Enne and his father were encouraged with the team’s placement. It had placed 12th last year in a lower division.
“Everyone was super-hyped up. There’s so much attention toward it,” Enne said. “We have another Wrecking Crew team in a different division that got knocked out the day before so they came over and helped us. It was just amazing.
“This year, playing in a better division, we had a few different players,” he continued. “Throughout the past year, we’ve all been trying to work on our communication and work together. We’ve been getting to know each other and see who plays well on what part of the field.”
Each player on Wrecking Crew is from Long Island, Enne said, except for one player who is from New York City. His father is more of an assistant coach and alternate than a full-time player, but Enne’s entire family gets in on the paintball action. Charlie’s younger brothers—Theo Enne, 15, Joey McLaughlin, 10, and Jameson McLaughlin, 7—all play, and their mother, Sandra McLaughlin, even plays once in a while.
“The thing is, there are so many kids these days caught up with playing video games, I’d rather have my kids play outside like I did when I would run through the woods and shoot my friends with paintballs,” Mr. McLaughlin explained. “It gets them out of the house and it was fun seeing Charlie out there playing with other people. It’s a really cool experience. He’s really growing into the sport and it’s really cool to see how well he works with his other teammates. Our motto is ‘one team, one family’ and we’re a bunch of brothers on a team.”
The end of the World Cup signals the start of the offseason in paintball. Enne, his father, and the rest of their Wrecking Crew squad will be moving up to a more competitive division, Division 3, and will be playing Xball instead of Speed Ball. Xball is all about which team can score the most points in a 15-minute period, so Mr. McLaughlin said the team will be working on its conditioning throughout the winter at the HVP indoor facility in Bay Shore.
“We’ll go back and work our drills, skills, communication,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “It’s a different game in the other division but we’re excited about it.”