Whether Andrew Hanlon is on the field shooting his paintball gun, in the classroom double majoring or doing one of the many other things he somehow finds time for, the 21-year-old senior can be described as sharp.
A sharp student, he majors in both chemistry and mathematics.
Hanlon has been a teacher’s assistant since his sophomore year and currently works as a physical chemistry research assistant.
He has been a member of the Schreyer Honors College all four years and received numerous scholarships throughout his Penn State career.
Also a sharp shooter, Hanlon has played for the varsity paintball team since his freshman year.
In his second season with the team he acted as the club’s president, in charge of communicating with club sports, filing travel requests and other administrative duties.
His junior year he was named the team’s captain, becoming more of a player-coach.
“I enjoyed working as captain more than president,” said Hanlon. “For the most part, I just enjoy playing paintball.”
The club is broken up into a varsity team and junior varsity team. Tryouts are held for the varsity team and anyone else interested can play JV.
Penn State’s club had success in Hanlon’s freshman and sophomore seasons, winning the Ohio Valley Conference and taking home fifth place at nationals in consecutive years. The team made it to nationals after winning their conference, playing opponents Pittsburgh, Ohio and West Virginia among others.
Hanlon said, contrary to most people’s image of paintball, the team does not play in the woods but on a turf or grass field with predetermined inflatable bunkers throughout the course. Hanlon added that the team doesn’t have its own practice field at Penn State.
Varsity teams usually participate in Class A, playing a series of five-man games called X-ball.
The matches have two 10-minute halves.
When the clock starts, players from each team try to eliminate one another until all five of the opposing players have been shot, earning their team one point.
The clock then stops and teams are given two minutes to prepare for the next game. At the end of the match, the team with the most points, or games won, wins.
Unfortunately, due to low participation numbers recently, the team has been forced to compete in Class AA, playing a one round five-man elimination game.
Hanlon said the teams are usually compiled of players at three distinct positions: one back, two fronts and two mids.
The fronts move the farthest up the field, trying to attack the opposing team, while the mids can either move forward or drop back depending on the tempo of the game.
The back, Hanlon’s position, has the responsibility of shooting and protecting the lanes that team’s run through during the game.
The back is in charge of controlling the flow of the game for his or her team.
Although not a large organization, Hanlon said the club does it’s best to give back to the community by participating in the IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon.
In 2012, Hanlon was given the opportunity to dance for THON as a part of the club.
“It was an unforgettable experience, and the Four Diamonds children gave more to me that weekend with their inspirational strength and courage than I could ever do for them,” he said.
While the varsity team’s goal is to win a national championship, the overall goal of the club is to recruit and teach new players about the game.
“Paintball is a great sport and extremely safe. I encourage everyone to give it a try,” said Hanlon.