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Cal Jam 6
By Julio Lagos
Six-years ago, its conception took place. Contained within the compounds of Laguna Hills, it grew and evolved in to the monster tournament we have come to call CAL JAM. This competitively explosive tournament is one that is anxiously awaited by members of the paintball community. We can smell the atmosphere change as it gets closer. The excitement begins to rush through the body, until it gets close enough that we can feel it. –And when it gets that close, and CAL JAM has started, there’s no stopping it. Like a beast racing down a treacherous mountain of the deep woods, anything in its way will be sadly demolished.
As CAL JAM continues to evolve, so does its enduring players and risky fields. For five straight years, SC Village, located in Laguna Hills, California, has hosted the always competitive tournament. 2002 marked the year of relocation for CAL JAM. The 2002 tournament was held at Hollywood Sports, CA.
When the gates of Hollywood Sports opened, several hundred people rushed to get inside. With every passing minute more people lined up at the gate, more cars parked in the lot, and more vans packed with athletes and spectators were dropped off. All signs were favorable for the CAL JAM Tournament. The weather was typical Southern Californian; perfect. The sky was blue; the sun was shinning and it wasn’t too warm or too cold, not too windy either. It was just perfect conditions to start the CAL JAM Tournament, hosted by Hollywood Sports.
At Hollywood Sports, CAL JAM players were surrounded with sets from some of the biggest motion pictures sets that the film industry has produced. The bare size of these sets provided a solid atmosphere that helped the players get in to the zone. Normally, paintball athletes who come to train at Hollywood Sports, play amidst these dinosaur-sized sets. Being around them
helps paintball players reach a completely different and elevated mind-set that is rarely seen. Having a world, such as the one that Hollywood Sports has created, is a definite benefit that inspires players to endure the most, while at the same time raising the bar of how this sport should be played.
As in any paintball tournament, CAL JAM players would have to compete on air fields. Massive bunkers and giant balloons were set up in preparation for the event. A hardworking crew erected them through out Hollywood Sports. Knowing that some of the best of the best would compete in this tournament, the regular fields that have always stood tall at Hollywood Sports were strategically modified. One exciting arena was provided by System X.
Seeing as this is CAL JAM, and seeing that an overwhelming amount of people splashed in from all parts near and far, the number of fields was increased to five to hold the two-hundred teams that played. These extra air fields were assembled on the grass adjacent to the permanent fields that Hollywood Sports is notorious for having constructed.
CAL JAM was where a dramatic unfolding of events took place. The Rookie Division began with a rush of electrifying energy that blanketed Hollywood Sports, and ended with an explosive competition that crowned Extreme Sports in first place, followed by its aggressive competitor Worr Games Chop Shop. Splat Factory II earned third place and Crush rounded the top four.
The Novice Division ended with Backwood winning after a controversial call from the referee that left their competitor, Splat Factory, in second place. Will Splat Factory return for the 2003 CAL JAM Tournament and overthrow Backwood to capture first place? –Or will last year’s third place contestant, Tropical Illusion, return with vengeance? Who knows, maybe it’ll be neither, and a courageous underdog will leave all of them with paint in their mouths. As the 2003 CAL JAM closes in, and all teams in preparation, the outcome for 2003 is anyone’s guess.
The second day of CAL JAM, how did it go? -It rained. What a damper on the games you might think, but like the old saying goes, “when life hands you lemons; make lemonade”. The showers were ridiculously non-stop. It continued to pour. The drops of water splashed against the ground, mudded the fields, gave the air balloons and bunker a slippery skin. An average paintball team does not train on a wet field. However, CAL JAM teams are not composed of average players. They are teams of whether it rain or shine; they will hit the field and play the sport they love. The rain proved to be an unexpected factor for the athletes, but it added
to a dramatic showdown competition.
When players slid across the field, seeking shelter from flying paintballs, the puddles kicked up like ocean waves. A blanket of splashing mud covered them. One bad step could literally signify a slip up that the opposing team was not going to let slide. A bad placing of your foot on slippery ground could potentially mark the end of your participation within the paintball arena. This was why some players moved slowly, but with a greater amount of precise and calculated moves.
Surrounding the field stood the supporting sponsors watching the games. Among them included Kingman, Redz, Custom Products, Paintball Junkies, Dye, and System X. All the heavyweight names of paintball products were there. This was an opportune time to check out the stylish products, and get up to date on the latest information that the heavyweights themselves had to offer.
Before we knew it, day two of CAL JAM ended, and day three emerged. The sun finally came out from behind the clouds. The rain stopped, but the ground remained wet. The day started with cold weather, but as time pushed forward, it became a scorcher. CAL JAM was quickly coming to an end, but not without controversy first.
Is it fair for a member of your opposing team to referee the game? A fight almost erupted because of this. During an amateur competition, referee Ron Kilbourne, refereed a game where his very own team was competing. Within a short period of time, spectators and the opposing team began to accuse of him of unjust and biased calls. It was clearly a compromise of interests. Referee Ron Kilbourne continued to referee from the sidelines, but tensions soon escalated. With every passing minute, the aggression level of each team incremented, and sure enough, not only were paintballs flying back and forth, but so were insults. Fists would have swung, if it wasn’t for Giovanni D’Egidio, vice-president of Hollywood Sports. D’Egidio summoned the teams to the center of the field, and with stern words, like a father to a son, reminded the entire amateur division about rules and conduct on the field. Kilbourne was not replaced, but more referees were added to the game to ensure a just game.
Ultimately, CAL JAM was an exhilarating event. Sure it rained, and because of that, a lot of the games were behind schedule, but that’s life. There’s not much you can do about the weather except to protect yourself. Hollywood Sports raised many 10x10 tents to keep the paintball teams dry and in spirit. Over the three days that CAL JAM stretched, 45-vendors came out. Team Dynasty was also in attendance among many other world famous and professional paintball teams. Sky Ashton from Playboy had a great time at the player’s party after the event. CAL JAM days were stressful, but also great! Vendors, spectators, athletes, and sponsors all agreed that CAL JAM continues its trend of growing, and will one day not only bring teams from California and surrounding States, but will also attract players from across the nation. Hosted by Hollywood Sports, CAL JAM continues to grow, and will always roll down that mountain like an unstoppable beast that neither rain or controversy or any other factor can
stop once it starts.