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Hayes, D-Line Champion Community Paintball Tournament

Posted Jun 14, 2013


By Tiffany White
Special to stlouisrams.com

After several intense hours of competition at Gateway Paintball Park on June 8, Rams defensive end William Hayes, several Rams players, and 175 participants raised nearly $11,000 to benefit the St. Patrick Center.

“I’d say it was huge success,” Gateway Paintball Park Owner/Operator Tim Schloss said. “As far as charitable events that have been done in paintball, it’s probably raised more money, I know locally, than any of them. It was beyond my expectations.”

The paintball fundraiser was an extension of the Sack Homelessness program, which was derived through a partnership between the Rams and the St. Patrick Center in 2012. Proceeds of the fundraiser will be used to help adopt families in need to prepare them for the start of the 2013 school year. The Rams defensive line will outfit the children with clothes and provide them with personal hygiene products and new school supplies.

Hayes organized the event that featured a round-robin style tournament followed by open play for the remainder of the afternoon. The tournament included 14 teams, in which a Rams player served as the captain.

Veterans of the defensive line – Michael Brockers, Mason Brodine, Matt Conrath, Jermelle Cudjo, Kendall Langford, Robert Quinn, and Eugene Sims – made appearances as did rookies Gerald Rivers and R.J. Washington. First round draft pick Alec Ogletree represented the linebackers and Terrell Brown, Terrance Ganaway, Chris Givens, and Isaiah Pead participated on behalf of the offense. 

The event marked Hayes’ first paintball experience. On the opposite end of the spectrum, he was going up against several teammates who visit Gateway Paintball Park on a regular basis.

“We see them fairly often,” Schloss said. “Michael Brockers is out there all the time. We see him about once a week, maybe twice a week. Eugene Sims comes out quite a bit. The rest of them, Jermelle Cudjo, and we’ve got several other ones that come out now and then.”

In his first outing, Hayes beat out Brockers – arguably the most skilled paintball player amongst the Rams – and the 11 remaining teams to meet Sims in the championship game.

Sims’ team occupied a perfect scoring heading into the championship contest. Meanwhile, Hayes, the tournament organizer, received some bonus points to land a spot in the finals and eventually ousted Sims to claim the championship trophy.

“William played fine,” Schloss said with a laugh. “He did a great job of organizing the event. He got some bonus points for that. He deserves something for the effort of putting this thing together.”

What Hayes didn’t have in experience, he made up for with a custom Planet Eclipse Etha paintball gun – which was even topped with a Rams logo on the lid – and strategic recruiting of professional paintball players who flew from different parts of the country to help with the event.

“We had three professional players there to help everybody,” Schloss said. “We had Darryl Trent from California. He’s a multi-time world champion, just a hall of fame player. I had Thomas Ghee from New York and then I had John Dresser.”

Even in the presence of hall of fame talent, Schloss was amazed by the Rams’ ability on the paintball field.

“For as big of guys as they are, they are so quick and nimble,” Schloss said. “It’s amazing to watch them play. They’re just natural athletes.”

The Rams concluded the afternoon with a barbeque lunch, quality time with fans and a few more playful hours on the field. Armed with a controversial win, the smiling Hayes said that he hopes the tournament will spawn into an annual event. 

“It was beyond my expectations,” Schloss said. “The guys that come out and play, they represent the Rams so well. They’re approachable.  They’re polite. They’re just really, really great guys to have around.”

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