Friday, October 19, 2012

Introducing Toronto Force: A Force to be Reckoned With

      Many of you have heard rumblings that something exciting has been brewing in the aftermath of NAX. We all know that the Canadian paintball scene is full of talent albeit spread amongst a variety of CXBL teams. Well, not for long! Ron Guy, owner and coach of the new Toronto Force, with help from sponsors has brought together many of the CXBL’s best and is seeking to bring new opportunities to our homegrown talent! In just a few days we will get to bear witness as the faces of Toronto Force take to the D1 field of PSP’s World Cup.

     Ron Guy and two of the proud bearers of the Force jersey have graciously taken the time to answer some of my questions. Read on to learn more about this team and their exciting future.
  • Ron, What inspired you to put this team together? How did you choose the players for the roster?
“I have been wanting to delve back into PSP for a couple of years now. With having a team playing in the CXBL, and coming up through the ranks with RXL and MXL, I have listened to countless players talk about wanting to put a "Canadian Team" into the PSP series. Having watched the Elite league this season, I noticed how competitive our CXBL bred players can be against top American Pros and felt now was the time to introduce  players back into PSP on a regular basis but, include all CXBL players and not just Canadian. My hope is that, with consistent performances by individuals, they will get a chance at a fair tryout opportunity with a PSP Pro team. As for choosing players, that was TOUGH, TOUGH, TOUGH! That has been the most difficult part of the process. There are so many talented players in the CXBL, and all the guys bring intangible assets that pull the team together even if they do not have the stats or the skill set of some of their teammates. I spoke with several guys from the team in the preliminary stages about different characteristics of the player and how it may hinder or help the team. Next I compiled a huge list, in a tiered format and slotted players into where I felt they were on my depth Chart. After that it was a matter of begging, and groveling with them to come play on a team which I had no idea would get off the ground. Our final roster is made up of players who bring the components of what I think a team should possess. I guess we'll find out in a week!"
  •  What is your vision for Toronto Force? Is this simply a competitive team for PSP World Cup or do you hope to carry this group of players into the coming 2013 PSP season?

“My goal for this team is to provide a stepping stone for players to move into the Pro ranks of PSP and, also a competitive outlet for those who wish to compete at a high level, without the travel associated by Pro practicing in the States. Force plans to run a full D1 schedule next season, provided we can fulfill all the financial obligations required.”
“I have been involved in sport long enough to know the roster for 2013 it will be different. As with any team sport, commitments change, goals are altered, opportunities arise, and sometimes life just gets in the way so, I can safely say, Force will have a different look by the time we get to the first event next season. One of the things I see happening a lot, is teams become stagnant with players that are friends more than teammates, and that stalls the development of the team.”

  • Who are the faces of the first ever Toronto Force roster? What positions do they play?

“Our World Cup Team for Toronto Force is made up from players on 5 different teams in CXBL:
Gerry Harris-Matticks from 2012 Richmond Cup Champion, Mont Tremblant Cowboys, Back Middle
Chris Tarquinio- Toronto Rockstar, Doritos
Travis Kropf- Cambridge Raiders, Snake
Jesse Benoit- Windsor Lockdown, Doritos
Dan Szypka- Windsor Lockdown, Doritos, Back Middle, Snake
Ryan Dowling- Windsor Lockdown, Snake
Stefan Herda- Windsor Lockdown, Doritos
Justin Ing- Windsor Lockdown, Doritos
Buddy Baur- Windsor Lockdown, Back Middle
Josh Dempsey- Rochester Rythym, Snake
Tom Guest- Medonte N2 Factor, Snake
Grayden Guy- Medonte N2 Factor, Back Middle”

We originally had Bryan McKenna from Mont Tremblant Cowboys on the roster. He was given an opportunity with Chicago Aftershock, took full advantage of it, and is now heading into his second event with Aftershock. Congratulations Bryan!

I have been in contact with other players from the league, and Force is hoping to work them into our roster in the near future.”

  • What do you deem to be your tools for success? What does this team need to do in order to accomplish their goals? What challenges do they face?

“Without question, our greatest asset is experience. We have players that have won Richmond Cups, PSP World Cups, International Tournaments and who have played in every type of paintball event imaginable. That is what I am going to be calling on at this year’s World Cup event. Force players should only need to focus on, primary bunkers, secondary bunkers, closing out, and all things that are instinctual for these guys, as they look at the field. My job is to remove all the distractions that they allow to creep into the game such as missed assignments, calls, opposition, or anything else that forces them to think and question their next shot and move, in essence, just let them play! If they can be prevented from over-analyzing the match, I believe we will be successful.”

  • Who are the sponsors that stand behind this team?

“Toronto Force is fortunate enough to be involved with GI Sportz, Louie D'alesio and BuyPBL, RAZA Life, and Chris Tarquinio - who did all the design work for our jerseys and logos. It is amazing the support they have provided, considering 2012 budgets have been used yet they still found the resources and energy to support our program. Without them, we would never have put Toronto Force together in such a short period of time.”

  • Are there any plans to make this team into a CXBL team for the 2013 season?

“We have no plans to use this as a CXBL team in 2013. I think it's healthy for players to go back to their individual Elite teams or move around. The guys need space to re-generate goals and take in new ideas and philosophies from other coaches, owners and teammates. I have encouraged all of the guys to play as much as possible regardless of format. I personally, still believe CXBL is the true show of skill and perseverance in speedball.”
  • Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

“Toronto Force hopes to build an ongoing program, that works with the CXBL, in giving an opportunity for players to excel at a different format. Thank you to GI Sportz, BuyPBL, RAZA Life and Chris Tarquinio for giving this program a chance! Thank you Niki for creating this blog! I believe that those that have been interviewed, have given heartfelt explanations to what has gone on, in their eyes, throughout the CXBL season.”

  • Jesse and Travis, what (if any) challenges do you as players face as you work to go from competition to teammates? Has the transition been an easy one?
“I think the most challenging obstacle we have had to overcome has already been accomplished; we got the roster we wanted. It's never an easy thing to get players to part from their family to join the creation of a new one. I think in everyone's mind they want to believe that the guys they have played with over the years are going to be the ones that they'll go all the way with. Unfortunately that's not always the case and it becomes a ‘best player for the job’ type of scenario. If we ever want to be professionals, we have to act like it. You don't see professional sports teams being given the option to pick their team and have their buddy's because that's who they have the most fun with, are closest with, etc. We all agreed to put everything aside and take the best player for the job, regardless of what team they came from. The mutual respect we all have for each other is second to none, and we all hit it off very well this past weekend in NY, at our first ever practice as a full unit. Take that and the great leadership and experience of our coach and owner (Ron Guy), you have one scary, well-oiled machine. Speaking of having ‘the right guy for the job,’ Ron is that guy when it comes to the Coaching aspect. We all have 100% faith that he's the guy that will take us where we want to be.” – Jesse Benoit

“There are certainly challenges that come with creating a team like this. You see it in pro teams as well like Dynasty and Imfamous where they have amazing players but it takes a while to learn how to win. One of the biggest challenges we have is buying into the same system of how we train and how we play on the field. The skill level on this team is amazing and everyone on the roster knows how to win and be a great player. The challenge is doing it as a team and not as individuals. So far the transition has been an easy one. We have a great coach and leader who keeps us focused and lets us players worry about playing and that’s it. Almost all of us have played with each other for a year or 2 at various times along the way so we have a good idea for how we each work and think. After a 2 day practice in New York last weekend it feels like we have been teammates for a long time so it’s a good feeling!”- Travis Kropf

  • What was your thought process when the idea of this team was first presented to you? What made you want to be a part of this venture?
“When Ron approached me about the idea,  I was immediately interested. I always wanted to have an all-star team made up of the best CXBL players, and that was exactly what he was striving to accomplish. I believe I am a very good judge of character and I knew right away that he wasn't the type of person to ‘blow smoke’ so to speak. We all believed in him and the idea off the bat, and that's why it all came together. There was no way I was going to miss being a part of something so big. The talent in the CXBL is incredible (I'm speaking about the local talent) and it would be a shame to have never put that to the test. Not a single person on the team wanted to take the easy road. We want a chance to put our local scene on the map and compete at the highest level possible. Each and every player on this team is a competitor and we all share one common trait; the love for winning. Whether we come 1st or last, I know deep down that I won't regret anything, because I'm going down this road with 12 other guys that want it as bad as I do.” – Benoit

“This is something I have wanted for many years and I instantly jumped at the opportunity. The chance to train with and play with some of the best players in the CXBL is something we have been wanting to do for years. We did it in the past with Shockwave and had great results. Now it’s our time to do it in division 1.”-Kropf

  • What else would you like people to know about Toronto Force?
“Toronto Force is a team that will be around for years to come. World Cup is the start of that journey. We want to take this team to the top and earn a pro spot in the future. We will always field the best available roster and represent our scene to the fullest. When I was coming up it was rare to have a local team competing at a high level. I think this will open a lot of doors for everyone and give the local scene a much needed kick. We want and need the support of everyone. As much as we are there to represent ourselves, we're there to represent all of you too! Wish us luck and we'll keep you all updated as the Cup adventure continues. The morning after we arrive in Florida we have a practice with the Pirates. They won a D1 event this season so it will be a good test. Thanks to everyone that made this happen. Ron, Bryan Mckenna, GI Sports, PBL, Flag Raiders, and all of the players that came together to make this a reality, and of course to you Niki for the interview!” -Benoit

“I think everyone should know that this team is built for the long haul. We won’t be a one hit wonder. This team has been built for a long term run to make this the next Pro team. The dedication of the players and the amazing support from the coaching staff and sponsors will prove to be an amazing asset as we work hard to represent Canada and the CXBL.”-Kropf

Well gentlemen, I believe that the roster you have put together is built for success! I wish you all of the best at World Cup and I trust that you will represent Canadian paintball incredibly well and prove that the CXBL-bred players are a “force” to be reckoned with! Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and to share with us about your newest endeavour! I look forward to hearing about your experiences at cup! 

Signing off, 

The Paintball Wife

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