A Plattsburgh school teacher with a passion for troubled youth and for paintball has opened a game facility at the Genesee County Fairgrounds.
Jared Hogle said when there are competitions, teams will travel from all over the region -- from Syracuse, Binghamton and, of course, Rochester and Buffalo, which have a lot of tournament-level players.
"Batavia's centrally located and no more than two-and-a-half to three hours away from any of these places," Hogle said, explaining why he decided to open the facility in Batavia.
For about six years, Hogle has operated the Legacy Paintball Park at the Clinton County Fairgrounds in Plattsburgh.
"It's the third most popular sport in the world now," Hogle said. "Millions and millions of people play it. ESPN broadcasts tournaments, it's live streamed. It's the second biggest alternative sport in the United States."
But the new Batavia park isn't just for tournament players. It's open to any group -- church groups, scouts, bachelor parties, etc. -- they can all rent the facility.
Hogle also hopes the park will become a resource for local youths looking for positive activities.
"Ironically, Batavia isn't much different than Plattsburgh," Hogle said. "I drove around the streets last night and I saw kids walking around with nothing to do."
Kids with nothing to do, Hogle noted, get into trouble, but some of them also develop potentially destructive attitudes.
In Plattsburgh, Hogle has taken to bringing in bands with "positive" messages for the youth.
One band delivered a message about suicide and 150 kids at that show filled out counseling slips seeking follow-up phone calls.
"The kids are hurting, man," Hogle said. "The kids are hurting in school. We’ve had in the last month in Plattsburgh alone, we’ve had three or four people kill themselves. That’s where my passion is, to do the outreach, and if paintball can be a mediator to do that, and we can bring that positive music into the Batavia area, then that's where my passion is."
Hogle said in late summer, the paintball park will be moved to the west side of the fairgrounds, over by a wooded area, and another paintball playing area will be created in the woods.
His dream is that his business makes enough money that he can devote his full attention to it and provide more resources for youth, more positive venues for them to focus their attention on.
"I would love," he said, "if we ever make money, to put in a high ropes course up here and a rock climbing wall, get more people out and show there’s different ways to process troubled times rather just getting frustrated and getting to the point that you’re so depressed you take other matters into your hands."
Hogle anticipates the park being open during this summer's county fair and that there will be demonstrations and equipment rentals for people to try out the sport for themselves.
Contact information for Hogle can be found on his Web site.