Keegan Ingram – The Panhandle Paintball Professional

By Sasha Braithwaite

Most boys dream of one day being a professional football or basketball player. They play throughout childhood and high school, and if they work hard enough, maybe even college. But after that, other things become priority like work and relationships, and those dreams are left to fizzle out. But for Keegan Ingram, it has been a totally different story that is so rare, it could only happen from years of hard work, talent and determination. Ingram is a Martinsburg native and the area’s only paintball professional.


At 23 years of age, he has already achieved his dream of going further than most think possible. It took many years and many struggles, but with his passion for the sport, he has found the light at the end of the tunnel. It all began with a purchase his mom made on a whim. She did not know that for her son, it would ignite a passion–for shooting at opponents.

“I’ve played every sport. I’ve played hockey, baseball, soccer, and football, and I was kind of getting bored with those sports,” Ingram says. “Well, my mom actually ended up going to Wal-Mart and buying me two pump paintball guns, and my father, myself and my cousin went in the back yard and played. From then on I’ve been addicted to it.”

Ingram’s professional paintball career had it’s humble beginnings at first. Growing up, he spent his time playing with friends in local paintball locations in the area, the closest of which was North Mountain Paintball in Gerrardstown. He was on a team playing small tournaments in the area, when they won those they went on to play on a national level.

His first tournament was in Tampa Florida when he was about 11 years old. As it happened, he was going to the tournament to help in the pits, but one of the teams there ended up having two players who did not show up, so they were walking around looking for replacements. Ingram and his cousin happened to have their gear with them anyway, so they volunteered to fill the spots and ended up playing in the tournament.

“It started from there. I got addicted to tournament paintball.” Ingram then began playing with a division three team called Fierce, and once chosen, he started traveling to Florida about four times a month to attend practices. During one of their circuits, a team called Revo who was there playing noticed him. They asked where he was from, and it just so happened that Revo was based out of Taneytown, MD just an hour and a half away.

They started having Ingram come there to practice with them, and they not only became teammates, but they became close friends. Revo won every single event in division three and went on to play in division two, which they also won. In just three years, they made it to the professional level all together. “If it was not for my team, none of this would be possible for me. I’ve put in as much work as all those boys, and I love them all like family,” Ingram says. “We all worked so hard and achieved this goal.”

They get paid from match winnings as of now, which they split amongst the team. They do not have to pay for any flights, hotels or gear because it all gets paid for by sponsors. Their biggest sponsor is Empire, the leading company for paintball gear, who provide the team’s pants, elbow/kneepads, masks and guns. They only start making money as professionals when they start winning tournaments. Usually there are four matches in a tournament, and a team has to win at least three of them to qualify for the preliminaries. If a team wins that, then they are in the finals.

“I have been trying to be in this position since I was 10 years old,” Ingram says. “With being a pro, it’s really cool to have kids look up to you. I used to watch all of these films of pros when I was growing up in the sport, and I’ve always been like ‘I want to be like that guy and do what he’s doing’, and right now I’m in those shoes…..or shooting those people,” he laughs.

Although it is not the most commonly talked about, paintball is actually the third most extreme sport and fourth most watched in the world. There is a world cup held in Tampa, Florida where teams from all over the world compete. France and Russia are just two countries heavily involved in paintball. Ingram who has played in every state in the U.S., hopes to one day travel the world and play everywhere he possibly can.

Even though Ingram worked hard, he had a rough childhood due to his struggles with multiple learning disabilities. It is something that he still struggles with today, and has found it challenging to find jobs because of his disabilities. However, even as a professional, in order to pay for his weekends away practicing, he still has to work a regular job. He just recently started a job doing construction. “It’s very hard for me to read and spell, so that’s been a struggle in my life and paintball was my outlet, so now that I’ve achieved this goal in paintball playing pro, it’s unbelievable to me,” Ingram says. “The feeling is beyond words honestly.”

Aside from his team, Ingram also credits his mother for not only his success and introducing him to this passion, but for being there for him through the process and struggles. “She’s been my back bone through thick and thin,” Ingram says. “Through my schooling and through paintball, and for her to know that her son made it pro makes me tear up. It really does. I mean I’ve kind of been through hell and back and this is my light, and now that I play pro and am playing pro as we speak, it’s incredible.”

Now that he has made it to the professional level, he has to work that much harder. He has to be at practice two to three times a week in Taneytown. He also keeps up with his fitness and works out twice a day for two hours at a time putting in a total of four hours at the gym daily. And although he’s invested a lot into paintball, it has also invested in him. Through the sport, Ingram says that paintball has taught him about friendship, team camaraderie and working as a unit. He has met many people and been to many places that most people will never experience.

He has learned to do interviews and has been interviewed several times. The sport has also made his disabilities better and allowed him to be more outspoken and confident. “A lot of people say that a lot of things saved their lives, but this sport has truly saved my life. I struggled. I can barely read a food menu, but I can play the hell out of some paintball. Paintball relieves that struggle. When I put that mask down, I’m a totally different animal- -a totally different person, and I love it. It has changed and saved my life.”

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