From the Beginning, Revisited.
The time was late 2008 through early 2009. Tholey man was back and forth on a set of grind star hiatuses to the fine city I so affectionately refer to as Nap Town, more commonly known as Indianapolis. We were playing for Aftershock in the Pro division in both leagues at the time. Jeremy Salm had handed us over the reigns to the Aftershock 7-Man program, and we were steadily learning and cutting our teeth within the world of trying to successfully manage and play for a pro team. This is anything and everything but a simple task.
We were both frustrated with not only how our paintball careers were shaping up, but also our real lives. We were both going on over a couple of decades worth of serious grind collectively with no real substance to show for all of it other than a closet full of jerseys, pictures of our best friends, priceless memories and max’d out credit cards. While this sounds mundane and simple on the surface, this type of recurring happening begins to slowly suck the life out of a pro player and their love for the game. Grown men can only sacrifice EVERYTHING IN THEIR LIFE for so long WITH NO REWARD before they become jaded. It’s simply human nature. This scenario sparked a series of incredibly deep talks between the two of us about life, paintball, success and our dreams of how hopefully life would play out for the two of us.
The conclusion: CHASE YOUR DREAMS UNTIL YOU CAN’T ANYMORE. We all only have one life to live. Why settle for something you don’t believe in and want nothing to do with? If it comes to that for me, put me in a box – wether it be a coffin, a jail cell or a corporate cubical – they’re all the same to me. By the end of our multi-month retreat of eating home made Chicken Bizkerk, getting our asses whipped at Acceleration Indiana on the daily, practicing on the weekends and getting stroked by 98% of the paintball world as we attempted to start a pro team that stood for something great in a world full of jaded pros and sponsorship embezzling owners, we parted ways with new found hope, inspiration and a game plan.
The plan was this: fuck a traditional 9-5. This would never give us all the days we needed off or the money we needed to raise a family and bring midgets into this world. Our bosses would never care about paintball, and we would never have an opportunity to truly change the game by spreading our message and influencing up and coming players of all types. What message am I talking about? I’m talking about a message of loving this great game we all call paintball. I’m talking about preserving it, protecting it and passing it on to whoever you feel deserves such a great gift. This game provides so much for so many – a get a way from a long hard work week, an excuse to cap your boss in the ass, a chance to G up with your Dad and hold it down against 20 little bastards trying to get you. Or, in our case, countless trips across the US and the globe, a network of friends from coast to coast, priceless memories and a life I’d trade with no one, including you LeBron. I’m talking about so many great memories. I’d bet we’ve forgotten more than most cats will ever experience.
Over the last 5 years paintball has decayed drastically in my opinion. Greed is at the root of this problem. From ruthless pro team owners concerned with nothing but next year’s sponsorship contracts – how much gear they can get for free and then push through their store and pocket – to field owners pushing the shittiest paint they can find for the highest price the market will bare, we’ve got a problem. All the wrong people have been sucking the life out of the game for their own personal gain for too long. I’m not saying everyone’s guilty of this. I’m really not. There are plenty of good hearted people deep off in the industry for nothing but the love of the game. However, there is a distinct majority on the other side of the fence. We’ll never be able to stop them all or fully fix the problem because they’re all to deep within the major corporations that manufacture and distribute paintball products, but what we can do is this. We can stand up against them, call them on their parasitic behavior and set out to start making right for all the wrong they’ve caused.
I’m talking about creating a paintball park where priority one is the customers’ experience and not the bottom line. I’m talking about the realization that for every player who has an amazing experience, five more will show up chasing that same story they heard at the water cooler after lunch break. It’s called foresight folks, attention to detail, true care for the game. Traits that are on the endangered species list these days. I can tell you this much. No collective group of people cares more about the game of paintball than us. We’ve been deep in the swamps eating nothing but table scraps for years now watching field after field, company after company and owner after owner take and take and take. Rarely will you find someone willing to give. Here we are.
Ladies and gentleman, I present to you Vintage Paintball Park. A sacred holy land built by men who’ve dedicated their entire lives to this great game we know as paintball. A business started and supported by characters who refuse to follow in the foot steps of so many before them. A park hand crafted for nothing more than the love of the game, and the chance to chase a dream until you can’t anymore.