Greg Hastings can only be described as a fun loving adventurer, who craves the outdoors, thrives on tough challenges, and has always sought tough competition. Greg has always been an athlete and a competitor, excelling on many organized sports teams, as well as competing in individual sports of all kinds, in and around Stratford, NJ, a suburb of Philadelphia. While still in the 6th grade, he was the youngest to ever wrestle at his middle school, Samuel S. Yellin. At the time, only 7th and 8th graders were permitted to compete, but while watching his older brother Glenn at a team practice, Greg jumped in for a practice match and did well enough to get special permission to compete. He went on to score a pin at his first team match against an 8th grader. Greg continued to participate in many sports activities like this through high school, but what he enjoyed most as a young boy, was any activity off the beaten path such as fishing, exploring, hiking, swimming, BMX, and on more than a few occasions, some mischief.
Then in 1982, Greg discovered the new form of dancing that was growing in popularity called “breakin”. Although at first, he was not very good at it, he stuck with it for next few years and began to practice individual, as well as, choreographed group moves with his brother Glenn. Eventually developing their own style and adding a 3rd member to their group, they went on a small tour from town to town, putting on shows, and competing in “battles” for money. Greg (Swamii), his brother Glenn (Swipes), and friend, Scott Abdul Salaam(Casanova), made a name for themselves as the Strobe Breakers. Greg later went on to choreograph and mentor other b-boy crews and even lead a crew to a win on stage at Street Dance ‘86 in front of over 10,000 spectators. This is when Greg, still only 19, had his first brush with fame, as many spectators and media, mobbed Greg and his crew after the win.
This is where he was introduced to a new sport called “paintball”. Lou had organized a trip up to Rhode Island to play this new sport, and the adrenaline rush was so intense, Greg was forever hooked.
Greg and his brother Glenn continued to practice often and were always looking for ways to parlay their skills into some kind of living, but for Greg, difficult times were ahead. A brush with death at 19 years old disrupted his b-boy career. It took him almost two years to fully recover and just as his recovery was complete, another huge challenge was presented. Greg witnessed his own best friend, Mark Edwards, die in a pool accident. It was a confusing time for Greg, as he struggled to find a direction in life. He then enrolled in the local community college, but never really took it seriously and rarely even showed up for classes. The following year, another of Greg’s friends, invited him up to Connecticut for a weekend visit. It was 1987 and his friend, Lou Tomasso, who had joined the Navy right out of high school, wanted to show Greg the submarine he was stationed on in Groton. This is where he was introduced to a new sport called “paintball”. Lou had organized a trip up to Rhode Island to play this new sport, and the adrenaline rush was so intense, Greg was forever hooked.
Although Greg’s first paintball experience made a solid impression, it was not until he joined the Navy himself in 1988 and became stationed in San Diego, Ca. where his interest in paintball would really explode. Greg then met and befriended Jim Snodgrass from Montana. Jim had his own paintball equipment and encouraged Greg to get his own. The very next week, after buying a PMI 1, some camo, and goggles, he and Jim became weekend fixtures at Borderland Paintball in southern California for the next year and a half. Paintball, however, would have to take a back seat for the next few years, as Greg’s Career in the Navy was getting up to stride. The Cold War was still in full swing, so he would definitely see action.
Although, being stationed on a fast attack sub of his own named the USS Gato (SSN615), Greg played paintball every time he was in port and even recruited shipmates to play while back in their home port of Groton Ct. While at sea, Greg served has a medal winning SONAR Supervisor and SCUBA Diving Operation Supervisor while only a 3rd Class Petty Officer. During his six-year tour, He had logged 186 thousand miles submerged on nuclear power, while on numerous Cold War missions around the globe, including support and protection for several different battle groups in the Mediterranean Sea during our first conflicts in the Gulf.
After being honorably discharged, Greg immediately answered an ad in Paintball News about a “try out” for a team based in Delaware. He wanted to play paintball at a higher competitive level, and recapture that adrenaline rush he felt back in the Breakin’ days. Paintball was now his team sport of choice. Greg successfully made the Free Agents 10 man woodsball team and immediately began to stand out as a skillful player. Greg and the Free Agents traveled to almost every event in the North East that was within driving distance, gaining valuable experience and knowledge in competition paintball.
Greg’s innovation was the unique mating of a common, hardware store type back support belt to a series of pod holding pouches. Once hand made and tested, this product not only secured the future financing Greg would need to train and compete at higher levels, but it changed this gear genre forever.
While playing on an early paintball team, long before sponsors began helping pay bills, Greg knew it was crucial that everyone on the team make his own living and still leave time and money to practice and travel to events. Greg was lucky enough to be hired by a local private detective agency, right after leaving the Navy. Being a streetwise kid from NJ, he was well suited to this type of challenging work. Greg became very proficient with many types of searches and investigations. This eventually allowed him to be able to make his own hours and take on cases that did not interfere with his playing schedule. Then, while sitting in his car on a stake out, in the middle of night, something extraordinary occurred. Greg had an idea how to greatly improve the way a player carries extra paintballs needed to keep up with the increasingly faster guns. Under the light from his car stereo, Greg sketched out the first designs of a revolutionary new product he called the “Redz Comfort Pack”. Greg’s innovation was the unique mating of a common, hardware store type back support belt to a series of pod holding pouches. Once hand made and tested, this product not only secured the future financing Greg would need to train and compete at higher levels, but it changed this gear genre forever.
Greg eventually sold his interest in Redz, but continued with his unparalleled paintball innovations by starting a new gear company named “R7”, as well as, becoming a successful video game developer. That, video game/sports fans, is a very different story, for another time. Another video game chapter is being written, as Greg is currently working on GHP Fields of Battle 2, for iOS, Android, Kindle Fire HD, and MORE, as well as, Greg Hastings Paintball 3 for all top consoles and Steam. Since starting his competitive paintball career, eventually turning pro, Greg Hastings has also played on teams such as the Secret Agents, Turbulence, BITM, Bob Long’s Ironmen, Ground Zero Gold, Ground Zero International, Redz Factory, Brimstone Smoke, Sacramento XSV, New Jersey Authority, and Method of Destruction. Greg now competes in a different arena, where he is most definitely a force multiplier on “Big Game” and “Scenario” fields all around the world as a special guest for teams like the LA Hitmen, Scottish Warriors and more.
Greg Hastings’ contagious passion for this sport is remarkable. He can be found at paintball fields on his “TOUR OF DUTY”, competing at events, large and small, local and international, representing his brand R7, Inception Designs, and the rest of his sponsors who help him do what he does best.
© 2016, Greg Hastings Paintball