I started playing paintball when I was 9 years old. Since then it has been the most familiar and comfortable thing in my life. If I wasn’t playing on the weekends I was thinking about it during the week. Replaying game moves and situations over and over in my head battling back and forth and putting together my own perfect match.

The sport of paintball has been my best friend growing up and is something I have been apart of for more than half my life. I can truly say I am in love with the sport, so losing the ability to be on the field has been pretty devastating. The doctor performed a Micro-fracture surgery along with the ACL reconstruction which had disabled me from walking for 6 weeks. I just recently got off the crutches and have been attacking physical therapy as aggressively as I can. I don’t look at this as a set back, in fact I’m confident that it has been a blessing in disguise. This past season was not one of my better years and I did not find myself connected to a trophy all year long. To me that is unacceptable and this injury has given me time to really think about myself as an individual.

There are many changes I have been making and will continue to make on and off the field to be a more complete team player. In order to be the best you must first know what it takes to be the best and figure out how you are going to do it. For me it seems easy, hard work, athleticism, the right attitude and leadership, and knowledge of the game. This injury has made me work harder than ever before on my athleticism. I can either put the hard work in therapy on the back burner and never return to my full potential or I can work hard every day making sure that I come back ten times stronger. To me its no choice, I like to work hard.

The right attitude and leadership comes from recognizing my wrong and rights, which I have. You must first know there is a problem before you can fix a problem and I know everything I need to do to help myself and my teammates excel to the top.

Last but not least knowledge for the game. I have been playing for 11 years and still have much to learn. Knowing that I have much to learn allows myself to accept learning new things to improve myself as a paintball player and individual. These are all things that have gone through my mind over and over during this tough time in my life. No matter what had ever gotten taken away from me I would always say at least I have paintball. Now that paintball was taken from me I really gained a whole new appreciation and hunger for the sport. It’s easy to get comfortable with who you are and what your doing when you have done it long enough. A true champion is always trying to find a way to be better, is always hungry for another win, and never has a closed mind. A true champion doesn’t believe there is a top of the game because in every sport the skill level evolves and people are constantly coming up with new and better ways to win.

It’s like anything in life really. Any successful individual will have a similar mindset to that of the greatest athletes to play any of your favorite sports. It’s about hunger and the competitive drive to not take no for an answer. Not letting anybody tell you that something is not possible. I’m sure everyone told the Wright brothers there is no way they could fly.. now look, because of their belief in their own imagination there are more than 5 million people that fly every single day in the US as a way of transportation.

I just can’t wait to get on the field and play paintball next season, I can’t wait to go to practice, I can’t wait to play paintball every weekend, I can’t wait to travel with my best friends to these remote places where we only have each other, I can’t wait to be with my brothers and join the adventures that paintball brings but most of all, I can’t wait to win.

I’m hungrier than ever.

Photo Courtesy of Jeff Stinson, jeffyphoto.com