By Johnny Jackson
Dylan Kersey has found his niche in paintball. In two years, the 14-year-old has become an accomplished player in the sport.
Kersey, of McDonough, regularly competes in paintball matches some two hours away at Atomic Paintball in North August, S.C. "Pretty much all of my weekends are spent in North Augusta," Kersey said of practices with the Atlanta Breakout X paintball team.
He is the youngest member of the team, but is well-regarded in paintball circles throughout the region, according to Darryl McCurry, owner of the Atlanta-based Atlanta Breakout Paintball Program.
"He covers every aspect of paintball," McCurry said. "He's probably one of the best kids I've ever had in the program. He's always positive and always looking to do better."
McCurry noted that Kersey's involvement in the sport has expanded to include responsibilities as a coach and referee at paintball matches. He said the teen is the youngest head coach of a paintball team in the history of the regional paintball series, Carolina Field Owners Association (CFOA). He coaches the regional paintball team for players 14-18 years old, known as the Atlanta Breakout North.
Kersey also is a certified referee with the Georgia Field Owners Association (GFOA), which sanctions state-level paintball matches.
"On the head coach thing, I just kind of gained that responsibility," Kersey said. "And on the refereeing thing, I wanted to do that. I just like to do stuff that involves paintball."
Kersey has had some early success as head coach of the eight-member Atlanta Breakout North paintball team. The team has earned a second-place CFOA ranking, so far, this season, which lasts from February until December.
"I'm willing to actually sit down and listen to the players, see what they want, and adapt off of that, instead of telling them what to do," Kersey said. "I just like going out there, having fun and hanging out with my friends."
Kersey said his willingness to be a part of a team, and not his size, have contributed to his success as both a player and coach in paintball. "I may be the smallest player I know," said the 5-foot, 4-inch,, 115-pound paintball gunner. He is a rising freshman at Henry County's Union Grove High School.
"It's really funny, because he knows everybody," interjected McCurry. "The tournament owners love him to death. And when he talks, those kids listen. You don' t see too many people at 14 years old head coaching anything."
The young paintballer, McCurry continued, also helped lead his other paintball team, the Atlanta Breakout X, to a second-place finish in the Phoenix Open in Phoenix, Ariz., for Division 4 Paintball Sport Promotions (PSP), a national paintball tournament held in March.
Kersey has played in paintball tournaments for the past two years, and has more than two dozen tournaments under his belt, at the state, regional, and national levels.
He began playing paintball in late 2008, when a friend invited him to the newly opened paintball fields at Windy Hill Park in McDonough. Now, he hopes his paintball adventures will culminate in a professional career in the sport.
"You just need to go out there and try it, and experience it for yourself," Kersey said. "It's something everyone should do once in your life. It's pure fun."