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Girls got game

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson
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Christina Sullivan is no ordinary bride.The petite, 26-year-old Stiletto Cartel women’s paintball player is exchanging wedding vows and competing in a paintball tournament all within a week. “We’re actually having our wedding here,” Sullivan said of her Sept. 30 ceremony at the Alpine Adrenaline Paintball field on Glenwood’s rodeo grounds.The ceremony is the second for Sullivan and her newlywed, paintball-playing husband, Shawn Sullivan. The pair recently married in California, but are sharing their vows again locally on their hometown paintball field. Then comes friendly fire between the couple, friends and paintball teammates after the ceremony.”It’s a good way for us to get out and have the same hobby,” she said. “It lets you get the aggression out.”Christina, Robin Julich, Emily Granato, and Dani Adams constitute Stiletto Cartel, Glenwood’s first women’s paintball team. The women have been practicing with the local men’s team, Down Valley Regulators, for the Sept. 23 three-on-three tournament, which starts at 10 a.m.

“We really want girls to come out to watch it, and maybe get their guy friends out here, too,” said Julich, the Stiletto Cartel team captain. “We want to be playing next year.”Only a few months old, Stiletto Cartel is the brainchild of Alpine Adrenaline Paintball owner Nate Bohlen. He coaches the team, a first in his paintball-driven career.”The women listen a lot better because it’s the first time they’ve ever played the sport before,” Bohlen said. “They’re working on all the basics, still, and they’re working on communication.”Bohlen hopes to see Stiletto Cartel pump out a strong showing during tournament play.”I’m hoping they place – I’ll be real impressed when they start placing,” he said. “They have potential for sure. At first they were playing more defensive, not really an offensive style. Now that they’ve gotten out there, they’re not so afraid anymore. Actually, they’re not afraid at all.”Bohlen and Julich chose the team’s name, Stiletto Cartel, with intentions of illustrating how a women’s team can compete in such a male-dominated sport.”One night, Nate and I got out the thesaurus,” Julich said. “We wanted something very feminine but with an edge, more for an extreme sport.”

Julich said shaking the stigma that paintball is just for men – or that it’s a painful sport – has been the most difficult part of forming the new team.”I think the thing that turns most girls off is that they’ve never heard of it or never watched it,” she said. “And the bruising (from paintball hits) and the gun thing. Really, the adrenaline is going off when you’re playing and you hardly feel it until the next day.”Although a little fearful of being hit by fast-moving paintballs at first, 17-year-old Adams has developed a no pain, no gain attitude with the sport.”I was afraid to get shot a lot but it’s not too bad,” she said. “But I have had some bad ones.”Like the Sullivans, Adams and her boyfriend, Aaron Harbour, share a passion for the popular coed sport.”I get mad at him if he shoots me because he’s not supposed to,” Adams said. “All my mean ones are from him.”Granato, 19, shares her appreciation for paintball with her 27-year-old brother from Denver.



“My brother plays, too, and he loves that I’m playing,” she said. “He’s excited.”But what about being shot?”It doesn’t hurt anymore,” Granato said.Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. 518aclark@postindependent.com

Approximately 8 million active paintball enthusiasts exist in the U.S. Females comprise 12% of U.S. paintball participation The average age of female paintball players is 30.9 National Shooting Sports FoundationFor more information on Stiletto Cartel or playing paintball in Glenwood Springs, visit alpineadrenalinepaintball.com online or call 404-7911.


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