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It’s Friday and the team is starting to get together for the first weekend of practice on the NXL Philadelphia Open layout. Jacob Edwards drives all the way from Texas where he was working and makes it to my house sometime in the morning. Elias Rodriguez heads over during the day to hang out with Jake & I even though Jake is still asleep from his long drive. Tim Montressor and Keith Brown fly in later in the evening. The other guys will all meet us at practice early in the morning at Central Florida Paintball in Lakeland Florida.
For those of you that know my parents, know that they are amazing people. When my wife and I found out we were having a child last year, we were lucky enough to renovate our house and sell it to buy a new house large enough to support us, my parents, and the team when they come in. The fly in guys and others who choose to stay at my house on practice weekends are all finally at the house and we get to enjoy a nice healthy meal cooked by mom! Knowing this weekend is going to be brutally hot and humid we all do our best to hydrate, while also kicking back a few beers and talking about past paintball events and upcoming challenges.
We all seem to go to bed at different times but knowing the alarm is going to go off at 6am is the only reminder we need to make sure we get some reasonable rest. The morning is upon us and we head out to CFP, of course after our normal WAWA stop before we make it to the highway. Everyone has their normal go-to items energy drinks, water, five hours, protein bars, and lunch for later in the day.
It’s hot and humid to start off the day and we get to CFP to check out the field. This is our first practice with Joey Blute as head coach and Bryan Smith back on the team. The day starts off great with 1on1, 2on2, and island drills. Then we move onto rotational breakout drills with the TBD Jits. After a ton of reps, we break and load up to play 5on5 points. The end of the day approaches everyone is hot and exhausted from a full day of drills and points, so we end the practice studying bounce shots and safe zones.
Some of the guys leave practice and head straight home while the guys that are crashing at my house all want to go to eat. We head to Chilis and feast like we’ve been starved for days. After dinner, we get home around 7pm and everyone is sore and beat up from all of the running and diving. Not practicing on turf has its advantages, but the one big disadvantage is the strain on your body. The guys hang by the pool and watch TV. Little by little, we all make our ways to bed again after making sure our sweaty gross sweat dripping gear is clean and dry for tomorrows 6am wake up call!
Sunday morning is no different, we rush out of the house and head to WAWA. We get to the field and without wasting any time we load the truck with paint head to our staging area and start loading up. We start off with 1on1, island drills, and then go straight into playing the TBD Jits in 4on5 penalty points. After the 4on5’s we move into goal-oriented 5on5 points focusing on specific goals the whole time. Sunday practices end around 3-4 typically so the guys that have planes to catch can clean up and get to the airport in time.
This weekend felt great, and we asked Joey Blute some questions about the team now that he has spent a weekend back with us. Check out what he had to say.
- What do you think was the biggest factor in Damages poor performance in the last two events?
“Damages biggest issue first 2 events. Lack of leadership and direction. Damage is an interesting team that takes a certain type of person that all the players will follow and listen to. With the lack of leadership a lot of the little things where being passed over with paintball being a game of percentage those little things add up fast.”
What are your top 3 goals as the coach for Tampa Bay Damage?
“Top 3 goals
1. To help all the players on Damage remember what it takes to win.
2. To remove the small percent shit that was hurting Damage in my absence
3. Win Win Win”