Yes, believe it or not, paintball is still alive in Arizona. Sadly, it is slowly dying off. Those few of us that remain are the ones keeping it alive. We see it all the time when people come out to play and end up deciding that they would like to come and play with us that are competing in tournaments. I am sure that every single one of us tell those people the exact same thing. “Well come out more often and don’t be scared to ask for help or advice.” We are all there to help one another and would love to see the sport grow back into what it once was. We only have a hand full of teams here that go out and compete in the leagues. We have Scottsdale Elevation, AZ Outlaws, Phoenix Rising, and Elite just to name a few. On the field at practice, it’s a war. No mercy for one another, we play to win. But once we all get off, its back to being friends and helping the guy next to you correct their mistakes. I can’t even tell you how many times I have gotten off the field and went straight to the person I shot and told them “Hey man, your arm was sticking way out.” Or “You had the right idea to put me in, but you set a rhythm when you would shoot and wrap…”
The point here is that even though we are all on different teams, divisions, and leagues we are all willing to help one another. We give up time on our UPL field to play with Rising for WCPPL. Our D2 line gives up there NXL field to help us out UPL. I would be willing to say that we are a small Paintball Family. I play for Elevation, and we are playing in the UPL this season. Our first 2 events were in Las Vegas. Who did we see there with us from Arizona? The Saints, Phoenix Rising D5, and The Gun Slingers. What did we do in between matches? Watched them and give tips and advice. They would do the same to us. Yes, they are our Competition and we are all there to win right? But we are also there representing our home state. California is known for putting out some of the best players out there. And there are A LOT more of them in CA than there are of us in AZ.
This past weekend was the 3rd UPL event is Lake Elsinore, CA. Man was that a blast. And a fight to the very end. I don’t know how many of you follow the UPL league standings. But in the D4 division, Scottsdale Elevation took first place in the first two events of the 2016 series. What a way to start out, right? We went into this third event down 3 of our starting players. But we still had our heads held high. Knowing that everyone was going to be gunning for us. We were still confident. Sending 2 lines in, one for Saturdays Race to 2, and Sundays Race to 4. Saturdays line was our newer guys that had just been picked up. Sadly, being together for only about a 2 months and one FRESH guy to the team (and me filling in a new position) We didn’t do too well. But the main mission, was to get these boys rolling as a team. But man what a group of talent we have there. Derek Acosta and Justin Rankin coming out of retirement. Picking up Mike Galaios who is a dominate snake player from Greece. And my personal favorite, little Trevor Nicholas. He is only 13, came in from our D5 kids line wanting more and started playing with us. And now he is rocking just as hard as the rest of us who have been playing for a LONG time. The heart that little guy puts out in one practice is more than most people put out in a whole season. Never scared to ask for help, and we have created a beast on the field. He never gave up, even when he was sitting so we can prepare for the next event, he was still there every weekend ready to roll at any moment.
Then we have our Sunday line. Man o’ man was that a fight to stay on top. Again, we are down 3 starting players. One of them moving up to our Semi-Pro line. That has to be the most intense Sunday that I have ever played. Usually we would walk in, roll our guns, hang the flag yelling “Buy Felicia!!!” and walk off. Oh no, not this time. With the competition rising we went toe to toe with everyone. Mayhem out of Southern California’s SC Village, who we have made great friends with along the way, put up one heck of a fight. With players like Gabriel Day, and Kyle Brady, they didn’t give up easy. Then with the Broke Ballers, an intense 1 on 1 happened. Thankfully to quick thinking and amazing skills, Leon Noel pulled it off for us.
And then we have LA Collision. We ended up playing them for 3rd and 4th. That right there was the “Game of The Day” as so much happened. Penalties to the point that we had to take a break so that the amazing refs out there could figure out what exactly happened. I have to give it to them boys. Even during the “break”, we were all able to talk and B.S. about anything and everything. Even Luna was giving me advice for how to play that snake better. Again, on the field is a battle. Anything in between, we are all buddies. Which is great to have because in the end we ended up beating them and taking 3rd. I will admit that I wasn’t too happy with it at first. But after thinking about it. I am not upset that we ended up there. Because that was the hardest we had ever fought to stay on that podium.
But that was not the only CRAZY part of the weekend. Saturday night a couple of our cars were broken into and things were stolen. And the worst of it all, my CS1, my Tank, and my Freak Kit were all stolen from my car. Man was that rough to cope with when playing Sunday. But this isn’t about poor little oh me. No no no, this is about how all ballers around come together, and help one another. I had people tell me that they are sorry for my loss, and they are going to send me a free tank. A FREE TANK!!! I don’t even know this guy and he is reaching out like that. Another person hit me up and said that they have an extra Rotor and freak barrel that I can have. That is amazing. And along with that I started a GoFundMe account to try and replace what I lost. By the next morning I had over $300. A few of those people I didn’t even know. I even had one person, across the country that I made a trade with before, offer to send me his whole set up while he was out and unable to play. That right there is more than anyone can ask for. So many people are lending me guns and tanks just so that I can finish this season out with my team. That right there, is what I mean when I said Paintball Family. Most of these people are from my home field, and on my team. But for people that I don’t know to reach out and be willing to hand everything over to me is truly a great thing.
Now that we have covered, helping the younger, newer players, to helping one another across the country, all the way to the sweat, the tears, and the battles on the field. We can all see that we are one big family. Even though it’s a fight to the top on the field. Off the field. we can all shake hands, talk about that last point, give one another advice, and just be one big happy family.