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