2018 LA Ironmen




2018 LA Ironmen, where to begin...?

How we let our fans down, or
how we “overhyped” ourselves?

How we were traitors?

It’s funny how it all played out because as a professional athlete in this sport you know how tough it is to win an event, or even be in the top 4. As individuals we knew that going into the creation of this new squad it was going to be a struggle. As a collective squad there has to be sharp confidence and the willingnesses to overcome obstacles. Any new team understands it's going to be a tough road in the beginning, but you're not going to come out and say you expect to play like shit until you have time to pull it together. I think a lot of players on other teams felt like we overhyped our predicted performance. Then on top of that we didn't live up to the expectations of our fans. But our intention wasn't to come out claiming some type of unearned respect.

There is a part of our sport just like any other sport that is built around marketing and sponsorship, as an individual as well as representing a brand. Its part of being an ambassador of the sport, you’re promoting yourself, the team, and the companies. I feel like this can easily be misconstrued for bragging or boasting.

As far as the individual mindsets, everyone obviously wants to come out and gel immediately, and win. I think in our minds, especially the veterans on this team knew it wasn't going to be handed over just because of the players on our roster. I want us to succeed for the legacy of everyone that has ever worn this jersey. I want to uphold the name and keep the recognition that they have built strong.

In those first two events it seemed that all the factors that we pulled together to win, were actually working in the opposite fashion. We had been utilized on other teams to flourish in our specific area of expertise, and as Ironmen it just wasn't working. We didn't know each other strengths, weakness, or in depth playing styles. I mean we knew each other through this small community we inhabit, but we didn't really know one another on a personal level.

I strongly believe at this level you have to care about the person next to you. I say this over and over. There needs to be something that holds deep value, past skill and ability. That comes from building a rapport off the field as well. Most of our guys are spread out all over the country and even further, Alan Goulding, lives in Europe. Getting together is something that we have very minimal time to work with; I think that this showed our first two events.

I wanted to stray off course here and touch on the coaching change that happened along with my 2018 move. Although I think many people have an understanding of Rusty as well as Todd, they don't have the true experience of being in the pit with either. I had been on Dynasty for 5 years under Rusty and he gave me an incredible outlook on the game. That guy is second to none on trying to find the most statistically efficient way to play each point. He’s a numbers guy, and that showed me the value in looking at our sport from more of an analytical standpoint. I don't mean solely from a scouting aspect, this mindset transitioned into my game and I was able to start making more proficient decisions. He showed me how to fix my weaknesses and helped me form better habits. I owe a lot to that guy. Then I come over to Ironmen and coach, Todd Martinez.

I've known Todd for probably as long as I have been in San Diego, but we never really talked paintball nor have had a chance to play together. To be honest I was pretty excited to play for him, as he is extremely passionate about the game. His drive and passion had me pumped about what we could do together. Some of my best moments as a player have been when I went into a full flow state, and I get there through immense energy by the individuals around me. Todd is hands down one of the best motivational speakers in the game and I noticed that even as a divisional kid watching paintball videos. He will definitely give you the boost you need to feel relentless when you step on the field. With that comes high passion in the other direction as well; Todd doesn't accept people slacking or making mistakes multiple times. I think thats the frustration side people see but may not understand as a player, and as a player, I thrive off this. I want to see what my mind and body are capable of, and what extreme I can push it to, Todd, helps me reach toward attaining this goal every time we are out there working together. I think the explosive side you see from him is what enables him to be that motivational rockstar. Todd has a lot of tricks and understands that in this game you have to be adaptable to change. Both very different coaches, and I'm fortunate enough that I have been given the opportunity to evolve my game through them.

Now as far as our team performance from a technical view I don't believe we had anything in the right place. I think I can speak for everyone on the team when I say that. To be honest it was a mess, everyone was trying to scramble and fix holes. We were running around doing everything as individual players. I think everyone was confused as if they should be playing their own game or helping someone else play theirs. It’s like in basketball when you have a breakaway and you either drive the ball or send up the assist… It didn't matter if we were up bodies or down, we were just having a massive brain fart and turning the ball over and over and over and over.

Another factor we were dealing with as a squad was understanding the new bunker kits. Every time the fields get changed there is a small reassessment of how the gameplay will unfold. These new layouts are more complex then they were with the Wall. In the last few years it was either you made a skillful shot and you were playing Up 5v4 otherwise typically it would quickly be a 4v4 game. Now there is a whole new collection of variables that have been added to our game. To be efficient and competitive you have to understand your job as well as what the other 4 guys are doing at all times. The teams that are making the correct split second decisions are typically the ones that prevail on the specific point.

We are starting to understand what it takes to be successful and I think everyone saw that last event. I don't want to leave you with some cheesy cliche statements on how we will be better. We’re past that.

At this point I’m just ready to let our actions and future performance take it from here.

Kyle Spicka #05 | LA Ironmen

Oliver Lang


6 Questions for Oliver Lang

(originally published in issue 11 : chicago)

1. FITN: Is there a single moment you can remember that made you say, "I want to dedicate everything to paintball"?

OL: I knew at a young age that I was going to dedicate my life to this sport. But no specific clear moment. In fact I think that moment is still coming, so standby for the real importance of why.

2. FITN: What was your greatest moment on the field, and what was your greatest moment off the field?

OL: Greatest moment must have been in 2000, when I won the World Cup with the Ironmen, beating the World Cup goliaths, Aftershock. I was just a kid and I had no clue what was happening. I was just in a pure flow state and everything was working so easily. 

I shot a bunch of them like I was some sort of master but really I was clueless, just following my heart.

Off the field...I have to say that practice has become one of my favorite all around things. It's just a time when we could rejoice in all that we are doing with no stress and step outside of the real world and help each other learn.

I enjoy a solid practice over a tournament any day. Much more fun and rewarding.

3. FITN: In 2006 you left Dynasty and signed a deal with Dye to play for the Ironmen. Many people thought that moment represented a sea change for paintball and deals like yours would become the norm. But 10 years later, growth in paintball seems stagnant. What do you think is the cause of the slowdown, and what do you think paintball needs to do to reach the masses? Where do you see paintball in the next 5-10 years?

OL: I’m not an economic strategist by any means, but I believe the biggest factor in terms of growth is the simple fact that the big industry guys run the show. They are all locked in a push and shove, tug of war game. They’re all trying to say they know how to solve the problem. They want to change this format to that format and make the game like this and that. They all have their own agenda. It’s a power struggle, who gets to run the show.

Most people in paintball think the sport won’t reach its highest potential, for a very simple reason: politics.

No one wants to work together and not many people at the top want to take advice from the players. It's all about making money and controlling the industry.

This attitude gets you nowhere in life. In fact it weakens everyone at all levels, hence the standstill for over a decade.

The only way we will reach the mainstream public is when the current players, who actually have ethics and who care about the game, with no hidden agendas, retire and create a new league for the players by the players, when players on all levels realize they must support the big picture, not just their one sponsor. The biggest problem is that teams and players are aligned with a certain company, and they have to respect that company because, well, that's who pays the bills.

But an organization must be formed by people who have the same dream and vision and who can work together to grow a unified format and league that's played around the world, that’s easy to understand and shows true athletic ability of the players, who are compensated at a fair rate for their wins. And then the sacrifice of time and money required to play the game can be justified.

4. FITN: Why did you leave paintball?

OL: I left everyone and everything, not just paintball. I left my life and everything I know. You will never understand what this is like until you actually do it.

The question “Why?” is for me to answer, for my own personal development.

When I was a kid people laughed at me when I told them I wanted to be the greatest paintball player in the world, and they laugh at me now when I tell them

I want to be the greatest person I can be in the world.

And I haven’t exactly left paintball--I’m planning the next phase. How can I help? How can I give back? How can I inspire more? How can I help you achieve your highest potential?

I need time and space to figure this out.

It's taxing, running around airports and flying around the world. It's nice to move, but I have found that the true secrets come when you stay still.

5. FITN: A lot of people are curious about your pursuit for peace and happiness.

OL: Well, I'm glad that people are interested in this. I'll share something I learned with you: everything you do every day, every movement and every desire, is brilliantly camouflaged.

See, we are so blinded and so confused about why we do the things we do. Why do you want to be the greatest in your field? Why do you seek that fancy car or prestigious job?

We are all looking for peace, and it's camouflaged in every sport and every thing we do because we are ultimately waiting for that day when we can look back on our success and say, “I did that, thank God that's over,” and sit back and put our feet up and relax.

But we get so confused. In fact peace is a simple mindset. You don't need to go to the extremes to achieve peace, you can have it right now.

But most people don't believe that.

So what happens when you actually achieve true peace? Well, everything is wonderful, there is fulfillment in every corner and every aspect of your life. In the peace you have freedom, which is the goal, what we all actually seek.

But we seek it in superficial things and accolades in order to justify ourselves to others. If you just put the ego aside, you can stop competing against others and most importantly against yourself.

In this space you can start creating, and this is the ultimate success.

For I believe I am brand new and my life is just beginning. I couldn't be more happy and my renouncement of the sport was the most difficult divorce I have ever had, but absolutely necessary to make room for what's next.

6. FITN: What does life after paintball look like for you?

OL: I live the most blessed life imaginable right now and it's all because I am living in total faith of what the grand plan has in store for me. I am spawning many creative projects. Film, poetry, pottery, photography, clothing design, dance, and I will start writing a fictional book soon.

I am in the process of building an organic garden in Bali where you can come and enjoy nature and good food.

I will be launching some online training courses for the sport, and I’m working on hosting an invitational event in Southeast Asia.

We will see. Many ideas are flowing but my main focus is taking care of my health and expanding my consciousness.

For the true purpose is just beginning to surface, and I'm excited to discover what it entails.

Oliver Lang


The Aftermath


The Aftermath


When I was asked to write an article reflecting on the Atlantic City, I was hesitant. I didn’t want to write this article, because I didn’t want to think about the fact that a team with a win-loss ratio of 90-18 point over 3 events managed to place 5th. But it’s something I needed to think about. 

Aftermath is defined as the consequences or aftereffects of a significant unpleasant event. People talk about the aftermath of an earthquake; the aftermath of a tornado. Today I’m writing about the aftermath of our performance at Atlantic City.

San Diego Aftermath is a Semi-Pro team with a proven track record. Coach Mike Hinman is known for building championship teams that have produced the likes of Dalton Vanderbyl, Alex Goldman, Marcello Margott, and Raney Stanczak; some of the best players in the game right now. Our goal, like many other teams in our division, is to earn our spot in the Pro division. Going into Atlantic City having won the two events prior, our guys felt well on our way were to achieving this goal.

Whenever we go up against a team, we are confident knowing that we have prepared more than anyone else. We are confident knowing that as players we have received the best possible preparation for every point, match and tournament, and I am confident that every player on my team is capable of greatness. 

In Vegas, a combination of hard work, calls that went in our favor, and an eagerness to prove that we are deserving of wearing the SDA jersey landed  us a first place. In Dallas, very similar circumstances led us to take first place. The conditions of the season had been ripe for success. We became confident that things were going to go exactly how we expected for the rest of the season. That was a mistake. 

Enter Atlantic City. Throw in a slow, bounce shot ridden layout. A marker malfunction.  A sick player.  Multiple penalties.  Adversity. Throw in adversity, and the game changes. On Sunday morning we ended up losing our first match against Colorado Blitz 3-2. The worst part about the loss was how close the game was, and knowing that on a personal level, I could have done more to help change that outcome. Not making it to finals at AC was a reality check; we felt like we belonged on that finals field. So why weren’t we on it? In this game, for every factor you can control, there are two factors you can’t. When faced with something you can’t control, you can either react or respond. A reaction and a response might look exactly the same, but they aren’t. A reaction is impulsive and sloppy. A response is intentional and well thought out.

On a personal level, my confidence that the Colorado match would go how we expected it to meant that I wasn’t prepared to respond appropriately when it didn’t. I also feel like there were points where my confidence in my team led to the diffusion of responsibility; the assumption that if I don’t respond, someone else would. When people talk about the aftermath of an unfortunate event, they often talk about the resilience required to overcome it. Successful teams are resilient teams; teams that can bounce back in the face of adversity. Prior to Atlantic City, we hadn’t experienced much hardship. Going into Chicago, things will change in the Aftermath camp. We are not a losing team; that isn’t what Aftermath is about. We owe it to ourselves, Mike Hinman, our fans, and to every player who has ever contributed to the SDA name to be better. We’re expecting the unexpected. We’re coming back. 

Tom Guest #07 | San Diego Aftermath

The First


The First


Looking back, I sink into a moment that I have been envisioning since the day I picked up that Tippmann 98 custom. That green colored nation name. That black labeled ranking. I am here. I am playing Pro. The dream has been seen and transformed into reality, the goal to reset goals has been achieved. Now, time to clock in. To me, to be honest, it was just another event; another event to win. They say have fun, fuck that! To me, winning is fun. It didn’t sink in, the moment we were in, until the beast man said “…have fun, you only get one first event.” The same man that helped turn my mind into understanding how to win, brings me back to earth. 

Just like that, the event was over. We didn’t make Sunday, for the first time in a couple years, we fell short. We got together and reflected on what mistakes we made, and how to be better come

Now, looking back, growing up that pedestal that we put Professional Paintball on is both elegantly postured upon it, as well as smashed into pieces down the steps of the pyramid. What I mean by that is, yes the division is more talented and athletic, much quicker, and less forgiving. However, it didn’t feel any different. To me at least, it didn’t feel harder or more complicated, it felt simple, it felt right; to me, it felt like home. I felt as though I could do whatever my mind envisioned. Some moves I got caught, but I was able to trace the root of the problem in which I got caught. Other moves, well lets just say the risk was definitely rewarded. I look forward to my career in this crazy sport we all love. Just remember, if you don’t give up, if you dedicate your entire effort into your goal, you can achieve anything you mind desires.

Thomas Kim #09 | Sacramento DMG





To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure if I was going to write this article. This topic delves into some of my toughest moments growing up. After considerable thought, I believe it could be beneficial to anyone who may have gone through or is currently going through difficult times. My goal is to show what obstacles I encountered and how I used them to propel myself in my endeavors. In doing so, I hope you can take pieces away that can relate to whatever situation you may have in mind. 

I began playing paintball when I was eleven years old at Camp Pendleton Paintball Park. Like many of you, I was instantly hooked. I would prepare all week watching videos, cleaning my gear, and even practicing in the house. When the weekend finally hit, we would load up my mom’s van and head to the field. During this period, my parents were in the early stages of a divorce, so I couldn’t have discovered paintball at a better time. I was able to use paintball as an outlet but as I became more intrigued in the game it quickly evolved into my priority.

After two years in the game, at the age of thirteen, the biggest tragedy of all happened. My father was killed in an accident. Prior to this, I hadn’t let my turbulent family life affect my personal motives but this was different. The grief engulfed me and it was hard to place importance on anything, when all I could fixate on was my loss.

I was able to find solace in paintball. It became my meditation and frankly my life. It was a place I could go to not only release all of the pepped up emotion I had inside, but also to forget about the outside world. Paintball was my greatest teacher during these times. It taught me that steadfast determination, attention to details, and preparation are fundamental in achieving any goal. I was able to see this as I rose through the ranks, eventually turning “pro” at the age of sixteen. 

After a few years in, playing for the Los Angeles Ironmen, I faced repeat shoulder injuries. Throughout the 2016 season, I dislocated it before every event. It was an injury that was keeping me from performing at my highest potential, but I was able to play the year out. More than anything, that year testing me physically and mentally beyond measure. I was unwilling to give up in our team’s pursuit in succeeding. 

One of the most rewarding times came at the end of the year, when my German team, Comin at Ya, finished third at the Millennium series. It was a hell of a year, and we podiumed at the Paris event. It was the best the team has done since its inception.   

I feel that being able to seek out the light, even in the darkest of times is what allowed me to excel. People who know me are always surprised that I never let these tragedies affect me and steer me down the wrong path. But the truth is, the tragedy did in fact affect me but only by equipping me with maturity, positivity, and grit.

Without knowing every adversity, I have faced, you can’t understand who I am and what drives me today. Every setback I faced made me stronger and gave me the mental tenacity to tap into a part of myself that I didn’t know existed. It enabled me to challenge myself beyond my comfort limit.

I believe difficult times, if channeled properly, can be used as a catalyst. Refusing to compromise, coupled with taping into a deeper part of yourself as motivation, will be the catapult to your success. If you are in a trying period, keep going. Live in the moment and continue to grow.

Thank you for reading,

Brandon Cornell #20 | Edmonton Impact