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Getting older has its benefits. Money, respect, authority and responsibility come with the territory. The drawback is that there are obligations to meet that you just can’t let go of without serious consequences. This past event I spent my time away from the grown ups (the professionals) and focused on photographing players on the divisional fields – fields 2 & 3. What struck me about watching them play is that the competitive fire burns in their souls just like the professionals. Those guys want to win every bit as badly at D3 as they do at D1. The difference is polish, and experience, and skills. In terms of dedication, they are basically the same.

So, while XSV is the toast of the town this past event after ripping through the competition in Huntington Beach, this post is for all the players grinding it out week after week without cushy industry jobs, big corporate sponsorships, or personal trainers. Many of the players in divisional play can only make it to one or two events each year, traveling to those closest to their homes. After an event they return home to ponder whether the smoking remains of their bank balances can be replenished in time for the next one. For some, it’s a once in a lifetime deal. For others, playing at a national event is the juice they needed to spur them on to the next level.

To all you who have sacrificed so much to play at a national event, who have dedicated yourselves to be the best you can at the sport we love, and who have played on despite the great challenge of playing the events in this challenging economy – we salute you. Keep rolling triggers and wrecking faces because it won’t always be possible to play at the highest levels. Before you know it, your tour of duty on the D block will come to an end. You’ll move on to make more money, accept different responsibilities, and your time here will be a pleasant memory of a simpler (and infinitely more fun) time. A time when you could Cadillac on the beaches of Southern California after a day of destroying the competition.