You can dodge a (paint)ball. Okay, probably not. But if you can't dodge a wrench you got no chance with a paintball. Start slow, build confidence and hope to avoid brain damage in the meantime. (Although, odds are you have a player or three whose game might improve with a little brain damage. Not that I'm advocating anything intentional, you understand.) Damage began the 2011 season this past weekend by collecting some of our sweet sponsorship swag while we spent a couple of days getting acclimated to playing again. It's time to outline your goals, set a tone and begin to lay the foundation for the year. It's an exciting position to be in but it's also more than a little nerve-wracking. No matter how hard you try to maintain control things change as a matter of course and no matter what you did last year that's relegated to the past. From today on it's about moving forward, honoring the commitment to the team, working hard, having fun and striving to improve as players and as a team.
Last year during the season we picked up two young players (15 & 17) due to injuries to some regulars. They both made solid contributions and both are back this year. As are last season's injured players. Unfortunately during the off season Alex (Spence) was diagnosed with leukemia and has been hospitalized since early December. (Alex finally got to go home today.) Paintball slips down the list of priorities under such circumstances but Alex's illness is a stark, harsh reminder that everyday is a blessing and the opportunity to do the things we love can't ever be taken for granted. The whole Damage family looks forward to the day Alex can rejoin his teammates on the field.
Each year of competition is unique but remains tied to the past even as it becomes a bridge to the future. In the world of competition if you aren't moving forward you're losing ground, stagnating at best. Which is why it's important to not only establish standards, demand excellence but also set goals. Even a series of goals. The scope of the goal isn't all that important. The important part is that everyone shares the same goal and works together to attain that goal. Last season we both exceeded our goals and failed to reach them all. Our goals used to begin with Sundays. Playing Sunday is the first step towards excellence. Reaching the podium. Winning events. Now every match is a Sunday match. And every event is about winning. With each event there is only one goal, one satisfactory result; to win. The season goal is to defend both our PSP 2010 series title (and win WC doing it) and 2010 NPPL series title.
I recently heard from the kids at Social Paintball--the video guys--who expressed an interest in following the team over the course of the coming season. The plan is to produce 5 (or 6?) videos over the course of the season. The first will cover the lead up to the first event while the others center around specific events in both leagues. The team is very appreciative of Social's offer and interest and we're looking forward to see the result. Israel (Lagares) was out over the past weekend collecting footage from our first practice. Thanks, Israel & Social.
New rules in the PSP means, in part, finding new ways to prepare. Which is a good thing. Many of the things we have done in the past we will continue to do. Other, new routines will be added to the mix. The focus of practice will change to some degree. What came before is no longer good enough. We need to improve. As good as the players are, they need to get better. And as well as we've played as team there is plenty of room to improve. We spent our first weekend on a special field I designed to begin the process. Our pace was relaxed but the paintball, drills included, was unforgiving. It was good to see. We'll continue to ramp it up as we prepare for the coming season.
There are great players and some excellent teams competing at the pro level. It is no guarantee of success. Great players and excellent teams are the price of admission if you want to be taken seriously. Winning is born of determination, a refusal to lose, the will to fight and faith in your brothers. It can't be taught because it comes from within. What I think you can do is create an environment conducive to drawing out whatever resources a player has within and it begins with competition, with the struggle to earn an opportunity to play. We have a full roster. We may add more in order to find out who wants it most.