Chris with Team BBK here, bringing you another meet and greet with some of the guys on the team!
This week I am talking with Steve, “Jester” Knieriem and the “God-Father of paintball” himself, Billy Smith.
Like always, why don’t we start with some basics?
How long have you been involved with the sport of paintball and what got you started?
Billy: First in the late 80's, I was intrigued. Then in the early nineties I played against my brother in law. I shot him and no one came to arrest me and take me to jail. We played again; I shot him and still no police. I was just as excited as a sport as I was a business idea. I knew I wanted to be involved with paintball for life and that’s when the first thoughts of Low Country Paintball began. It took me nine more years to save the money up to open but I did it. (Yes, in early 2000 the banks scoffed at the idea of people shooting each other for fun)
Jester: Played “Outlaw Ball” for the first time in the mid 90’s, and got hooked. It’s been part of my life since then.
Let’s talk BBK. When did BBK first hit the field as a team?
Billy: Originally BBK started out in speedball in 2006 and moved to the SPPL in 2007 going on to become SPPL Champions.
How did the creation of BBK come to light and what was the main goal?
Billy: Come to light? Hell, we just wanted to play paintball. Goal was just to play as much as we could and promote as much as we could.
When looking at potential members in the beginning what were you looking at and has that changed over the years?
Billy: In the beginning we looked for aggressive players, players who were not afraid to really go out and play hard. Players who would make the moves to make the game. Only recently did we start accepting less skilled players like Chris Brodsky. (Edit, Chris is a really well liked and respected member of BBK! And can take a joke with the best of them!)
Jester, when did you join and why?
Jester: Team BBK…. Honestly the best move I have made in paintball. I have played a lot of great fields in Florida, written some pretty fun events here too. But I wanted more. This group of guys right here, Team BBK, is more than just my team mates. This is family to me. Players from all over the South East have come together, with different backgrounds and from different teams, with the common goal of HAVING FUN and traveling while we do what we love…….PAINTBALL!!!! How could you not want to surround yourself with people like that??
Were you on other teams before BBK?
Jester: I was a member of Orbital Reign for a long time, now called Team Xtreme Reign. I have played numerous tournaments with lots of teams, but never really found what I was looking for until now.
Stories and pictures of BBK’s adventures seem to be the stuff legends are made of and people seem to migrate over to the BBK compound when at games. Why is that?
Billy: Hell, cause we party! It's not just the game where memories are made but the parties and friendships to. Need a tech for your equipment, come see us. Just want a beer, come see us. Promoting the sport and what we do isn't just on the field; it all starts way before the game, during the game and after the game.
Jester: I mean, we have fun!! What else are you supposed to do? As for if they are true, I guess you are supposed to believe everything on the internet, right?
How did the nickname “Jester” come about?
Jester: Just being me!! I wish it had a cool story behind it, but basically someone told me I was acting like a court jester, and it kind of stuck. It was even my call sign on the radio when I was deployed with the US Air Force in South East Asia, so it’s become part of me.
Jester, on a lot of the online event pages you seem to be one of the main “trash talkers” or instigator. Is that the “Jester” persona you take on or is that really you?
Jester: Isn’t it the job of the players to get themselves and others motivated for the event? One side may look at it as trash talk, as you so eloquently put it, but others may look at it from the opposite angle. It’s a game, I’m competitive, and it’s part of the game. Nothing is personal. It’s all in the spirit of competition and the game itself. Some may not like it; they don’t have to participate in it. Some enjoy it, and it creates some of the most fun for the event.
You also write and produce games right?
Jester: Sure do!!! As a matter of fact, I just booked another game for March 17th thru 19th, 2017 at Low Country Paintball. That event hasn’t even been announced yet, so I guess you got the scoop!!!
Can you tell us a little about what goes in to that writing and producing process?
Jester: I could, but then I’d have to kill you. Just kidding, a lot does go into promoting and creating a game. Every writer has their own process, so I can just speak about mine, but it’s a fun process. I’m a player first and foremost, so I try to incorporate as many things for the players to enjoy. From instant re-insertions thru mobile respawn points, to characters on the field to props in the game, it’s all for the players to have fun with.
You have a big one coming up in December correct?
Jester: That’s right!!! Glad you reminded me!!!! The Finale: The Return of Krampus is December 9th thru 11th at Low Country Paintball. This game is very special to me. Every year, we do an event that benefits The Santa Cause, an organization that helps provide Christmas’ to families that otherwise wouldn’t have one. Registration for the event is either an unwrapped toy worth $20, or a donation of $20. It’s a great way to help out and awesome organization, and you get one of the best events of the year!!!! This year, I was able to coax Billy Smith of Low Country Paintball to once again command as Krampus, the evil shadow of Saint Nick. Now, it’s no easy task taking on Krampus, and there was only one guy I could think of to help out and save Christmas as Santa. Gino Postorivo of Valken Sports has accepted that role, and he wanted me to make sure everyone knew that there was no way he was letting Krampus take over Christmas!!!!
Can you tell us about what you have in store and what players can expect?
Jester: I can tell you to expect a lot of surprises!! I can’t give out too many details; you’ll have to be there to find out. But……if you like hard-nosed, in your face paintball, head to Hell’s Kitchen……..Expect Billy Smith to push the envelope, expect Gino to push Billy’s buttons, expect to have a blast. That’s what to expect.
Billy, how long have you been operating LCP and what types of games or events do you hold?
Billy: Low Country Paintball (LCP) has been operating since Feb 1999 as a business. I actually turned the business over to my son, William smith Jr, three years ago. We operate each and every weekend and run the average of 3 scenario games per year.
Now, Billy, you and your wife, Paula Smith, started a charity a few years ago, The Santa Cause. Can you tell us a little about that?
Billy: Santa Cause is a 501C3 nonprofit charitable organization. It is designed to help down and out families have a complete Christmas. We have helped families all thru the Southeast with the help of my Santa helpers positioned across the south looking for families we can help. Our Dec game at LCP helps The Santa Cause immensely with the entry fee being a $20 toy. We also accept $20 gifts for entry. All the proceeds from these games go back to help families. The average is to give each family $3-400 in toys and $2-400 in cash. We feel it is a blessing to take what we love in paintball and convert it back to families across the South in helping at Christmas Time. www.santa-cause.com --- This year at LCP I will be commanding against none-other than Gino Postrivo, come on out and join us. See details at www.lcpscenariogames.com
Is there a website where people can donate or learn more about The Santa Cause?
Billy: Yep, www.santa-cause.com
DYE, BBK was picked up by them as a sponsored team earlier this year. What has that meant to you?
Jester: I’m proud of all the accomplishments Team BBK has made together, and this was just icing on the cake. The boys at DYE have been great to us, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store.
I’m sure everyone would love to know, what setups are Billy Smith and Jester rocking on the paintball field?
Billy: Dye M2, I5, R2, Valken Pants, Custom Jersey and all the ultimate sexiness one man can be allowed!
Jester: This year, I am running the Hunter M2 with matching R2, and I just ordered the new I5 mask from Dye, and of course still rocking my Valken VTAC pants and our Team BBK Custom jersey.
How do you like the DYE products?
Billy: PURE AWESOMENESS!!! I have shot DYE since 2004. BBK began with DYE in 2007, strayed for a minute and now we are back home with DYE, thanks to Rocky Cagnoni – He would not stop being the driving force to come back home to DYE.
What’s next for Billy Smith and Team BBK and where would you like to see the team heading? Any “bucket list” fields or events you haven’t hit yet that are in the works?
Billy: We are on the constant look out for new fields. We do enjoy the big games but we also like to help support the fields that are struggling, that’s the meat of the growth of paintball. We spent many years playing in Fla, there are some awesome fields like First Strike, Old River Paintball, Gtf Paintball, Battlefield Orlando but don’t get me wrong, we just want to spread the love and visit other fields. As far as where we are heading? Hell, I don't know, I guess to the next game, somewhere. Know of a new field that wants us there? Give us a shout on Team BBK Facebook.
Billy: I'd like to also give a shout out to TYPE3 from Louisiana, Westsiders from Jax, Dixie Wrecked from Ga, Jack Carter, GTF Corps, Gino and Andy from Valken, Paul Dagnino and DJ from CPX, Jami Hubbell, SoBe Paintball (I hope we get our new jerseys from Social soon), Sammy Fadraga, and anyone else that supports Team BBK and our #0FG attitude. Hope to ball and party with you all at a field real soon. - don't get mad if I forgot to name you, I drank a lot this past weekend.
Any advice you might give to a new player or parents of younger players of the sport?
Jester: Remember it’s only a game. Have fun, life is too short not to. Do your best, have fun, and enjoy it. Follow the beat of your own drum, and don’t let anyone hold you back. Always want MORE and remember #0FG.
Thanks guys! Tell us where we can keep track of Billy, “Jester”, and Team BBK and all their events, games, and, of course, shenanigans.
Jester: Check us out on Facebook ( facebook.com/TeamBBK) and Twitter (@BBKPaintball) for all of our shenanigans.
Billy: Peace out! #0FG