Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Journey

     Throughout my time in the paintball community, I have met some incredible people and amazing athletes. One of the things I have valued the most about this community is the unique mix of characters - people from every walk of life - brought together by a sport they love. I have had the pleasure of meeting and sharing in the paintball journeys of many throughout my time on the sidelines. I have watched players with potential in CX4 move up through the ranks to stand proudly on the MXL and CXBL fields. I have seen top CXBL athletes battle at the top of their bracket for years on end fighting for those beloved and coveted rings. Finally, I have watched many athletes - after years of battle - walk away from the sport that they have loved since they first fired a marker.

    Last season, I proudly witnessed my husband and many of the top Canadian CXBL athletes (whom I also now call family) alongside the professional talent of some incredible Damage and Ironmen athletes - win the NAX championship. This was a moment these Canadian men have sought after throughout their entire paintball careers. No one has worked harder or poured as much passion, sweat, and yes- money into Canadian paintball as them. To say they were deserving of the title is a massive understatement. The Canadian Xball league would not be what it is without these legends of the sport who literally paved the way for all of you who now seek the same glory. And yet, as well-earned and well-deserved as this victory was, I couldn't help but feel saddened.

     My sadness stemmed from the fact that I felt this win signaled a sort of goodbye to competitive Canadian athletes in the CXBL Elite. I'm sure many of you will disagree, but in my eyes, the gap in skill between our top Canadian talent and that of the pros coming up from the US, has widened significantly over the last few years. Few Elite teams this past season even had a complete line of Canadian players - and of those who did, even less were able to maintain a competitive edge in their division. While there is no question that Canadian paintball is as alive as ever, the issue has now become - can we continue to compete against the professional talent from the south who have more practice time and less cost associated with the sport? I admittedly have my doubts.

     A few years back, I could confidently say that I knew strong Canadian players on EVERY team in the CXBL division. Where have they gone? Some have accepted triumph or defeat and changed their focus to excelling in other areas of their lives. Others have taken a less competitive approach and gone back to playing for fun in a more relaxed MXL-team environment. And yes, a handful are still to be found within the Elite division - most now battling alongside the pros rather than against them. We have given up our CXBL field - handed it over to whoever has the most money to bring in the best talent.

     I will forever be a supporter, friend, and fan to all of the Canadian paintballers out there. From CX4 to CXBL Elite, many of you are the most passionate, dedicated, hardworking group of athletes that I believe any sport has known. You pour your heart and soul and hard-earned finances into this sport and you have made a hobby into a culture and a massive community into a family. While the USA may have more opportunities, and better sponsorship for paintballers, Canada has the legendary spirit that makes Xball what it is. We have what it takes to reclaim our field. The question is, will you do it?

     As you seek to answer that question with action on the field, I will no longer be writing as "the paintball wife". Like many in my paintball family, it is time for me to refocus my energy in other areas of life. I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support and encouragement as I have endeavored to capture the essence of your sport in writing over the last two seasons. I need to extend an especially big thank you to all who interviewed with me and helped to share this blog as you are the reason it came alive. Outside the Mesh was a greater success than I could have ever anticipated - having nearly 20, 000 views in two seasons of sport. I am honoured and humbled even as I write that down.

     Those of you who have loyally followed the blog, engaged me in debates and discussions at the field, and shared your questions and comments with me have truly made me appreciate and value this community even more than I did originally. Please continue to make Xball a legendary game filled with Canadian spirit. Take time to invest in the players beside you and behind you. Continue to build this community. After all, I think we all know that sport - as life- is about the journey.

Much love as I sign off for a final time,

The Paintball Wife

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

One Incredible Opportunity!

Hey there fellow paintball lovers!

If you want to see the sport of paintball gain popularity and recognition outside of the already dedicated paintball community, have I got an opportunity for you! Some of you may remember Danny and Dusty Cort from the 2012 Vancouver Thunder CXBL roster. Well their father Don Cort is the owner of the fantastic Doodlebug Sportz Paintball (DBS) out in Everett, WA and their business is currently competing to earn a television commercial to be aired during the 2014 Superbowl! The best part is that we as a paintball family can support them in accomplishing this goal! 

DBS is family owned and operated and was founded by Mr. Cort in 1998. The company originated as Don noticed a lack of paintball supplies and suppliers in their locale. The Corts found that players didn’t have enough paintballs or CO2 to last them a whole day of play at the local field so Don gutted a trailer and set it up to sell supplies. Danny explained to me that each time they went to the field, they would hook up the trailer so they could enjoy the game while supplying the players.  It wasn’t long before they sought out land for their own field! After many issues trying to secure a conditional use permit, the Corts decided to move their operation indoors where these special permits would not be required. Since that time, DBS has been running a very successful indoor paintball field! 

         When I asked Danny about DBS’ vision, he said, “Our vision as a company is to provide our community with an amazing paintball experience while creating jobs and supporting our community.” Danny explained that winning the commercial would not only be a huge opportunity for DBS but also for the entire paintball community. We all know that the Superbowl has a massive reach and this kind of exposure is difficult to come by for the sport that we all love! Danny hopes that the commercial would have an incredible impact on the sport as a whole by exposing people to the sport and possibly encouraging them to seek out paintball fields locally. 

                You can support DBS by visiting and clicking that lovely little “vote for us” button! Only  20 semi-finalists make it on to the next level of the competition so be sure to get your votes in and encourage all of your friends and family to do the same! I believe that we only have until October 13th to vote so don’t wait, click on that link right now! Don’t go scroll through pbnation first! Vote! 

Thanks in advance to those of you who choose to support DBS and our paintball culture! 

Signing off,
The Paintball Wife

P.S. Don't forget to check out to learn more about this fantastic company!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Reflections on CXBL Elite Event 2

                I do realize that I’ve left you all hanging for quite some time for this recap and while I hate to disappoint, sometimes (real) life can make it challenging to keep on top of hobbies. Those of you who have followed the blog for a while know that at the beginning of this year, I left my full time job to return to studenthood. Well, August brought with it my final projects and finishing touches as I completed my diploma program and (amazingly) began work at a new job almost immediately. I hate to make excuses but it sure has been a crazy month. I appreciate your patience and I hope that you enjoy the articles enough to make them worth the wait. So it is with no further ado, my recap on Elite event 2. 

                After a devastating storm a few weeks before Central Event 3, the Flag Raiders field was left in tatters. In hopes of going forward with the event, Commando Paintball generously offered to host. Thankfully, the Flag Raiders staff with the help of several willing helpers and the CXBL managed to rebuild in the nick of time allowing the event to go according to the original plan. On behalf of all CXBL athletes, I extend appreciation for the efforts of all those involved and thank you for your time and dedication to the sport we all love. It is your behind the scenes efforts that allow for CXBL events to run so smoothly. 

                With thanks aside, let’s get back to discussion of the Elite showing at their second event of the season! The Elite matches provided a nice mix of predictable stomp shows, tight scores, and some surprises making for an enjoyable event for players and spectators alike. Here are my reflections from this fantastic Elite event. 

Most Exciting Game to Watch – Kitchener Recon VS. Toronto Rockstar

Photo Credit - Helen E. Grose
       I think most of us were fairly certain that it would be these two teams fighting against the NAX knockout but I have to admit that I expected Rockstar to be the team on the losing end of this exciting match. Recon is built of many familiar faces who have been around the CXBL for several years which made them the somewhat obvious choice for the win here. For this reason, I was surprised to see Kitchener concede the first four points of the match to the Rockstar crew. Recon wasn’t about to give up so early in the game and managed to snatch up 3 flag hangs in the next 6 minutes of the match – seemingly catching Toronto off guard and causing them to get into some penalty trouble. Surprisingly, with two major penalties on the board, Rockstar managed to win another point before the time ran out leaving the score 5-3 at half. 

The second half of this match was pretty back and forth with Rockstar consistently maintaining their lead. The excitement didn’t let up however and the match finished with Kitchener Recon’s Derrick Weltz being given a major penalty with 35 seconds remaining on the clock which resulted in an additional point for Toronto. The disappointed Kitchener line up suffered a devastating 9-6 loss solidifying Rockstar’s position as the final NAX competitor. 

Recon's Gerry Harris-Matticks
Photo Credit - unknown
Most Surprising Game – Kitchener Recon VS. Windsor Lockdown

 Recon's Nolan Stoer and Davin Lee
Photo Credit- The Catshack Reports

                I am still in shock following this match. I knew that Recon was not a team to be underestimated – due largely to the individual talent on the team - however, the team had not won a match all season AND heading into this event, Windsor was leading the Elite division. Upsets are expected on occasion within any organized athletics league. Players have on days and off days just like we do in everyday life and that was certainly the case during this match. Recon was “on”. So “on” in fact, they very well could have won this match. After all, they were leading 5-3 at half and then proceeded to take the next two points bringing their lead to 7-3 with 15 minutes remaining. Some of the Windsor players even admitted that the Recon squad just wasn’t allowing them to make those necessary bumps required to close a point. 

                Lockdown is a team made up of seasoned CXBL veterans and when players are as talented and experienced as these guys, they generally are able to adapt and make serious comebacks. Windsor did manage a comeback here but it came too little, too late. They clinched 5 points with Recon earning 1 more in the last 15 minutes of the match bringing the final score to a surprising 8-8 finish. Tying this match was Kitchener’s achievement of the season considering they won’t have the chance to battle for rings at NAX this year. 

 Lockdown's Sam Noddle
Photo Credit - Sheldon Carless

I won’t waste your time talking about which teams were the strongest and the weakest after the last event considering the standings speak for themselves. Montreal Heat (not so surprisingly) finished the season waving from the top of the ranks while Kitchener Recon was the only elite team to be left out of this year’s NAX championships. Oh and let’s be honest, Rockstar is the team to most surpass expectations! The underdogs found themselves with a second chance – the question is, will they make the most of it? 

With all that being said, you may be wondering who my choices are for the NAX championship match this year. I’m sure many of you agree that it would be an absolute thrill to see Windsor Lockdown and Montreal Heat face off again and this is honestly what I expect to see happen this coming weekend at NAX. In a league such as this where professional talent is harder to come by, these players add an unarguable edge and it becomes a real challenge for up-and-coming talent to compete. Montreal is a widely known team filled with extremely skilled professional paintball athletes who know how to work a field. Windsor on the other hand is a widely known team filled with gifted and experienced xball athletes paired with some handpicked professional goodness. Both of these teams have the necessary components for a championship win. So who will it be? I guess we will have to wait and see! Did you really think I'd jinx it by putting my prediction in writing?

Signing off,

The Paintball Wife

P.S. My prediction is that the final match will be between Heat and Lockdown. What are your thoughts? Which teams have what it takes to compete for the championship?


Thursday, August 22, 2013

It's a Rhythm Revival and you don't want to miss it!

As tryouts draw near for the exciting new Syracuse Rhythm camp, I thought you may be interested in a few details about the brilliant minds behind this sparkly new gem. Experienced paintballer, Buddy Baur has a history of playing and coaching that suggests this camp will be built for success under his direction. He has also been a familiar face around the CXBL playing for past Windsor Lockdown and Toronto Rage, and Cambridge Raiders squads. 

Buddy got his introduction to the world of paintball in the same way as many of you! He played recreational paintball for the first time at age 11 at an organized field owned by his step brother. From that day forward, paintball took priority in his life – over soccer, hockey, and basically everything else! He even played while in college in North Carolina – developing many great friendships through a shared love of the sport. Baur was eventually scouted and picked up by Lockout – an old Pro team that many of you will not be familiar with since, as Buddy explains, “the team has not lived on nor been recreated.” After his time with Lockout, Baur played for a variety of teams including: Detroit Thunder, Tippman Effect, Shockwave Canada, and of course – what most know him for – Rhythm! 

Rhythm was started in 2003 consisting of 3 thirteen and fourteen year old kids – Chris Lawler, Clay Munnings, and Mike Freitas (RIP). Later they picked up more players though it was hard on the original members who were protective of their team. Their first national event was in March 2004 when they played NPPL Huntington Beach. They entered the Novice division instead of Rookie because Buddy wanted them to get the experience of playing a Pro team. The Rhythm team ended up facing London Nexus for their first match of the tournament which in Baur’s eyes was the moment that made everything – all the coaching, drills, and basic skills - worthwhile. Rhythm managed a win over London Nexus hanging the flag with two alive!

I had the pleasure of chatting with Buddy about the brand new Syracuse Rhythm! Read on to find out more about this exciting new camp!

Niki – “You have developed an exciting new camp focused on the PSP under the name Syracuse Rhythm. Can you tell me a little bit about the camp?”

Buddy - “This camp will be run like nothing else I have done. The best way to picture it is that 30 players will make RHYTHM. No two players will have the same jersey number. This allows for the most flexibility. If one guy can’t make an event, I will bump one guy up from the nearest division. He will already have all of the equipment and gear and it will not conflict with anyone else.” 

Niki – “What inspired this endeavor?”

Buddy - “Mitch Karn of NVP Paintball called me one day and wanted to talk. He runs the most immaculate paintball organization I have ever seen –with 3 locations across central and western NY. He even has a beautiful store in a major shopping mall in Rochester, NY. Mitch expressed that he wants to have a PRO team within the next few seasons. But more so, he wants to build the talent level and inspire the younger generation of tournament players in Western NY. The goal is to build the Rhythm organization and work up to PRO caliber.” 

Niki – “What is the biggest thing that will set this camp apart from other local PSP teams and camps?”

Buddy – “The difference in this camp and others will first and foremost be organization. No decision is just made. There is an Owner (Mitch Karn,) a Coach (Buddy Baur,) an assistant Coach (Chris Tarquinio - to primarily help with the divisional teams development), and a team manager / equipment technician (Erik Fleischer). All decisions from minor to major will go through all of us. Every one of these people brings something valuable to the table and they each have their strengths. We are attempting to build this team as a PROFESSIONAL  team. For example, for events starting in 2014, players will have color restrictions on gear. Cleats must be either green, black, grey, or white. Head wear must be green, black, grey, or white. When players are practicing, they must be in their sponsored equipment and sponsored colors - just like NFL, NBA, and NHL teams. Many practices will also be filmed. I have some unique ideas for practices to increase productivity and effectiveness as well but those details will be kept between myself and those who make the roster.” 

Niki – “You have organized tryouts to take place Sunday August 25th. What will these tryouts look like/ consist of? What are the main things you are looking for in potential players?”

Buddy - “Tryouts are on the 25th! It’s very soon! There will be a written test, a video interview, a head shot photo, a 40 yard dash time, drills, games, photographers, videographers, and more! I am looking for the BEST players around- but the BEST isn’t based only on talent. It’s based on commitment level, skill, attendance, and the ability to bring out the best in one’s teammates - in other words, create a "rhythm" within the camp.”

Niki – “I understand that the division 1 team will debut at World Cup in October. What are your goals and/or expectations for the D1 team this fall?”

Buddy - “The world cup team will be mainly used as a gauge. I want to see what division(s) the teams should be competing in. With such short notice before World Cup, I will be looking to take some of the more experienced players that show up to the tryout.”

Niki – “Can you tell me about the sponsors whom the Syracuse Rhythm teams will have the opportunity to represent?”

Buddy - “Sponsors have been amazing! For the 2014 season, they will consist of NVP Paintball, GI Sportz, Planet Eclipse, Virtue, and Bob Johnson Chevrolet (which is the #1 volume Chevrolet dealership in the World)! It is great to have an outside sponsor step in as well and give the team greater opportunities.” 

Niki – “What will be your biggest challenge in running 3 different divisional teams in the PSP?”

Buddy - “I don’t think the number of teams will be a challenge. When the AXBL was around, I coached 75 players (5 teams of 15). The challenge will be making sure that all 3 teams are associated with the one thing RHYTHM has always been associated with.....WINNING!”

Niki – “Is there anything else that you would like to add?”

Buddy - “I am looking forward to getting back into paintball full swing. This year has been a busy one! I have worked hard at my amazing job, got married to my beautiful wife who loves that I play and supports me through and through (you can understand that Niki), also working on starting a family so there can be "little Buddy Baurs" running around torturing everyone. Now throw golfing, hunting, and a new paintball camp in there and I have pretty much consumed every waking hour of every day of the year! I am excited to meet new people and build the Rhythm family up again. See you on the 25th!”

Niki – “Buddy, thanks so much for your dedication to the sport of paintball! It is people like you, the Rhythm owner, and the sponsors who help the sport we love to grow and develop! Thanks for taking the time to share about your passion! I am excited to visit with and observe the many players who attend tryouts THIS Sunday!”

Signing off,

The Paintball Wife

Friday, July 26, 2013

Reflections on Border Battle 2K13 - Part 4


 Outbreak's Klayton Morris
Photo Credit- Sheldon Carless
                The RT5 division certainly saw some changes in the standings following the Border Battle event! Perhaps most notably, Petrolia Pirates lost their match against Keswick Bombers causing them to drop from their 1st place position. Pirates will have the opportunity to redeem themselves next event as they face Ajax Lockdown and Churchill Venom. Also point-worthy, Vanier Outbreak developed a winning streak which they maintained throughout the entire second event, allowing them to steal into the coveted lead. With their hard work and vigorous practices, I won’t be surprised to see this streak continue. It will not be an easy feat though as they have yet to face the 3rd and 5th place teams (Codrington Chaos and Mount Hope Bedlam) who both have some wins under their belts as well! Keswick Bombers’ successful matches allowed them to match Codrington Chaos in wins, losses, and ties, as well as in +/- meaning the two teams are currently tied for 3rd in the season standings. It will be interesting to see who pulls out ahead in their match against one another at Event 3!

                Hamilton Havoc won Event 2 bringing their point total up to 96 which also means they are now the CX4 leaders heading into Event 3. Brantford Painting Crew finished toward the middle of the pack this event, knocking them out of 1st and into 3rd overall. North York Thrash has demonstrated consistency this season, finishing both Events 1 and 2 in 3rd place which has allowed them to lock down the 2nd spot in the rankings. As for the lower end of the CX4 ranks, Barrhaven Hustle Ninjas failed to field a team this event which may have been a pleasant surprise for Wawa Warthogs who were able to move up a spot in the ranks. 

Signing off,
The Paintball Wife

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Reflections on Border Battle 2K13 - Part 3

                The RXL division switched things up a bit at Border Battle with an exciting mix of close matches and stomp shows. The top teams have maintained their positions while the bottom teams have shifted slightly. It will be interesting to see if there are any upsets at Event 3 as the season draws to a close and teams look forward to NAX. 

Most Surprising Game – Essex Distortion VS. Guelph Silence

                After last event, Essex was tied for the lead in the RXL division with Silence rounding out the bottom of the pack. While I thought for certain that Guelph would come out strong this event, I didn’t expect this match to be such a close one. Silence is after all the only team to have lost to Vaughn in the 2013 season. Additionally, Distortion had already had one tight match against Rampage earlier in the day which should have added fuel to their fire. Either way, this game was surprisingly close with a final score of 8-7 for distortion. 

Strongest Team at this Event – Joyceville Hustlers

  Hustler's Chris America
Photo Credit - Sheldon Carless
     I wouldn’t say that Hustlers came out overwhelmingly strong this event, stomping teams like they did at Event 1. However, they pulled out wins against Demolition and Beast Mode, proving they still belong at the top of the RXL standings. Joyceville will have the absolute pleasure of facing off against 420 Army and Vaughn Vipers at Event 3 where I suspect we will see them stepping up their game just for the fun of boosting their +/- to secure their position as 1st in the central division before heading into NAX!

Weakest Team at this Event – Vaughn Vipers

  Vipers' Billy Jones
Photo Credit- Sheldon Carless
        It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that Vipers have found their way to the bottom of the RXL barrel as this was their position throughout the entire 2012 season. However, I did expect more from them this year – especially considering the amount of experienced players added to their roster this year. It seems the ridiculous amount of penalties Vipers have taken is a little counter-productive to winning. Who would’ve guessed?  

Team to watch out for at Event 3 – Niagara Rampage and Brockville BeastMode

   Niagara's James Kraft
Photo Credit - Sheldon Carless
     Ahem. Can I take a second to give myself a little pat on the back? I told you all that Rampage would be your team to watch at Border Battle and these boys did not disappoint! First of all, they didn’t just win against Vaughn Vipers, they squashed them like a little bug with an 11-0 win! Then they proceeded to give Distortion a run for their money coming out of that match down by 1 point in Essex’s tight 6-5 win. Niagara is on what I’d like to call…wait for it…a RAMPAGE! 

   BeastMode VS. Vipers
Photo Credit: Sheldon Carless
             BeastMode has been quietly sitting on the bubble all season long. These guys have only lost to the top two teams in the RXL division and have taken some close wins over Silence and 420 Army. It looks like they are getting bored of being quiet though as they certainly made some noise when they beat the King City Royals 12-4 at Border Battle. I won’t be surprised to see them feast on Vipers at Event 3 but their match against Niagara will be worth the watch!

Team to Most Surpass Expectations – Guelph Silence

                Guelph’s losses at Event 1 were not enough to leave this team feeling defeated and ready to give up. Instead, Silence came back at Border Battle and brought with them their a-game. In their match over the King City Royals, Silence was silent no more! The Guelph group gave the Royals a good old fashioned beating with a 13-4 win and then went on to put up a solid fight against Distortion. I expected Guelph to bring a little more gusto to Event 2, but they truly outdid themselves! I do suspect that they will be playing for a win against 420 Army at Event 3 but Niagara will be a very challenging match for them. Who knows, maybe they will continue to surpass expectation! 

Signing off, 
The Paintball Wife

P.S.  My RXL predictions were pretty accurate. 8 for 8 in terms of wins and losses - although, the point spreads were not quite what I imagined!