Pete Utschig about his last trip to Ecuador
Every time I make my transformation from NYC firefighter to pro paintball player my heart starts to race with excitement of not knowing what kind of adventure might lay ahead of me. This time the adventure took me to down to Ecuador for my annual migration to South America. I traveled there to teach a team clinic in Manta with the Dye sponsored team Manta Marines, then off to Quito for a skills clinic at Adrenaline Paintball and a tactical clinic at CQB paintball. The trip would conclude with the CSP event where I played with my South American Dye Team Zurikatas and LA Ironman Justin “LJ” Schwartz. Sounds like a lot for 9 days, but no trip to South America is complete without trying to get a full plate of culture and adventure, and trust me, this continent is full it.
My first stop was the city of Manta, which is known as the fishing capital of South America. I decided to take full advantage and add in some night fishing the jetties for Corvina and then a deep sea adventure to the majestic Silver Island in search of Marlin, Wahoo and Mahi Mahi. The guys from the Manta Marines picked me up from the airport and we toured the Coast of Ecuador. The coast line is breathtaking full of small fishing towns and of course the party town of Montinita, which is known for being frequented by European backpackers, American travelers and hippies.
After the amazing coastal scenic trip it was time to start grinding. The next few days we spent 8 hours a day practicing hard to be ready for the CSP event in Quito. First day we concentrated sharpening the Marines individual skills and the second day we concentrated on team skills. The Marines like most other South American teams are young, fast and very athletic. They all have been close friends for a long time, so with a little hard work and a lot of practice their future is looking bright. The guys were great and treated me like family. I feasted on the freshest ceviche this world has to offer and got to see the port of Manta where the majority of the worlds tuna gets imported in and out of. After the conclusion of the clinic the guys took me out for two days of fishing adventures. Even though I didn’t catch any of the real monsters, that lurked in the depths of the Manta waters, I did get to keep the line tight with a couple of 5 foot needle fish and of course have a famous “the one that got away story “(actually two).
Next stop was Quito, the capital city of Ecuador. When I got there Team Zurikatas was in full swing getting everything ready for the event. Gazzu and the rest of the guys threw a world class event, and I really mean that. You never would guess that the guys behind the curtain are really a bunch 20-something- year-old college students. After arriving to Quito I got to visit the Equator and I can tell that sun is incredibly strong at the middle of the Earth. It is very cool being able to visit these magnificent places. I know I always go back to this in my recaps, but if you are a young player dreaming about becoming a pro, traveling the world in search of adventure and paintball glory, it really does happen. Its not a easy road, but if you believe with all your heart, grind your ass off and stay loyal to the people who support you, it can happen. The next thing you know is that Matty Marshal will be calling your name and you”ll be jumping on flights to amazing places meeting ballers just like yourself asking: How did you get there?
Justin (Schwartz) arrived on Thursday so we took time as a team to set up the field for the event and then do some practicing. We also had bunch of interviews lined up, what seemed like World Cup soccer media coverage for me. Its nice to feel like a super star sometimes. Friday it was back to the grind with two clinics. A tournament style clinic taught by Justin at Adrenaline paintball and then a tactical clinic at CQB paintball by me. This was my first tactical clinic so I was a little nervous, but as always everything fell into place. I had about 30 players and a perfect venue at my disposal. CQB paintball is a huge facility with a bunch of woods ball fields and two city tactical fields. For the first half of the clinic I went over a bunch sneaky skills that are needed to succeed in woods ball, I really enjoy playing/teaching tactical paintball as it is new and fresh again. It is so much fun to teach guys all the ways I have learned over the years of playing paintball how to become a shadow in the woods. Next part of the clinic we moved indoors to CQB’s two level city field, where we talked about gun skills, team coordination, communication, movements and then followed that with gun drills. We concluded the clinic with a 4 on 4 tournament. The guys were great and I cant wait for the next one in November.
Six hours of sleep later it was time to grab a red bull, lace up the cleats and bloody the knuckles as the event started. The event had 32 international teams and was held right at the biggest mall chain in Ecuador. Tons of people off all ages got a chance to be introduced to paintball for the first time. The CSP and PSP are now affiliated, which has lots of advantages such as player tracking and referee training. I have to mention the great job the David Baker of the PSP and George Bolivia from South America did training the new refs and controlling the event. The ref clinic they gave on Friday really payed off all weekend. This was hands down the best officiated event I have ever been in South America and all of the other American players in attendance agreed. We all know that reffing is a thankless job, but add in the punishing climate of Quito and it can be torture. All the refs should be proud of the job they did. The other big thing I noticed and kept hearing from all the other international players was the over abundance of outside sponsors. The event had sponsors from all walks of the cooperate world ranging from computer brands to the national TV stations. Gazzu really knows how to market his events. This was the second year in a row that the event looked like I was at a national sporting event, the way paintball should be seen.
Team Tsunami from Columbia with guest star Ryan Greenspan from Dynasty made it straight to the finals with the best record in the open division prelims, which left us to battle it out for the last finals spot. The team played great and we matched up with Tsunami for the championship game. The finals game was a 7 minute race to four match. We took the first point and Tsunami came back and scored the second. The time almost ran out in the third point, but unfortunately for us, we received a coaching penalty in the final seconds and Tsunami was awarded the point and the win of the Tournament. It was not the way we wanted to end the event, but rules are rules. Tsunami played excellent all weekend and were crowned the CSP 2012 Open Class Champions. In the amateur division, Zurikatas Silver played flawless paintball and went undefeated all weekend long earning the tittle of Amateur Champions.
It was a pleasure to come back to Ecuador and the CSP Quito Event. I only see positive growth for the whole paintball community in Ecuador. If the rest of South America follows their example, paintball will continue to explode in the Wild Wild South.
See you at the next event!
Pete “Mr.U” Utschig