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Daniel Holliday, Tampa Bay Damage

It’s been a while now since we lost our title as World Champions. The sudden changes in emotions started as early as the 2nd point and have continued to rollercoaster over the last few months now. Okay, I’ll talk about the game. We lost the only game that mattered in 2012: Heat vs Damage. We met four times this year and won three of them by good margins, lost one game by one point. I felt confident.

I realized Heat wanted to play long technical games when I saw them play out a 20-something minute overtime point. I remember telling the guys that, “Heat is perfectly happy with shooting their guns the entire time, so be smart and make clean moves.” The game ended up exactly how I thought: a slow, very technical game where any advantage from one side or another was capitalized on. It also looked like their Sunday line-up was a 5-man roster, so they were playing the same five players every point: the three Russians, Sam Monville, and Chad George.

[pullquote_left]I do not love paintball. I love winning.[/pullquote_left]You’d think it would be easy to scout them but most of the top professional players are well rounded and deal with each situation differently. What was weird was a couple of their guys were only carrying three, maybe four, pods, which would usually indicates he wants to go far, but I saw the same players multiple times start out in the back and work their way into the game how they saw fit. What was different about this game was we were unable to sweet-spot players off the top even though we used the same paint as Heat and went just as far.

Sometimes the score shown on the board does not indicate how the match really went. I didn’t feel like it was a close game, I felt like they beat us straight up off the top and we had to figure a way to even out the bodies and break their crosses. In the end we all know how this story ends. The three Russians, Monville, and George beat us. These are the games that you run back over and over in your head to figure out what you would of done differently. I know what I would of done now and will be focusing on that in practice for the 2013 season. A season that could very well be my last.

2013, 2014… when is the right time to give this game up? I’m no longer a kid playing a game that I just so happen to be decent at. I’m a 29 year old, engaged to be married, father of two boys. One is four years old and the other ten. So the question I ask myself frequently is, “When is the right time to give this game up?” A game that has molded me into the man I am today. A game that has taught me valuable lessons in life,  allowed me to see the world, and opened my eyes to a wide array of possibilities in life. So, do you leave this game when you’re playing your best (ranked 3rd overall in 2012) or play until you can no longer keep up with the future pros?

I’ve admitted it in the past and still feel the same today: I do not love paintball. I love winning. I’m competitive in everything I do so I’m sure I will find something, but will it ever be equally as satisfying as winning World Cup in 2011? This sport creates a great deal of stress in my life emotionally. But every event I go to, every game I play, all real life stresses dissipate.

Regardless, I’ve dedicated myself to play the 2013 season. It’s sad to say that I know for a fact I have not given it my all. I have not trained in the gym as hard as my competition. At times, I’m not as focused as I should be and even though I know my weaknesses as a player, I lean on my strengths to mask them. Not exactly the easiest thing to admit but it takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong.

In 2013 you’ll see a more focused Holliday, a more fit Holliday, and a better overall skill level of Holliday. The bright side of all of this is the fact that I have not hit a plateau and have plenty of room to grow and, in a sense, writing this becomes a constant reminder to be a man of my word and do whatever it takes to be the best.

It’s time for all of our players on Damage to admit to the truth, we’re the best at what we do.