Even Ironmen have fathers, Happy Fathers Day!
Written by Steve Humphreys
Playing paintball with my 11 year old son ( Eric Humphreys ) and his friends was always something we looked forward to for weekend fun. The first time he asked if he could play I was concerned that he would not be able to take getting shot. So before investing in the cost of a gun, gear and the 45 minute drive up to the paintball field. I took him out back to shoot at him. Three layers of clothes at about a 50ft range. I was pretty uneasy about shooting my son and I knew it was going to sting. My first shot went right by him, I missed. My second shot got him and he hopped around a little bit. When he was done he said it was not that bad and asked if we could play on the upcoming weekend.
Our first day playing together was in woods in San Diego. For the most part we hung in the back, but I think he was having fun just shooting the gun and wearing the gear. He pretty much shot a case of paint at trees and rocks. We talked about how much fun the day was and it was non-stop paintball talk all the way home. I do not even know if he shot anyone that day but he had a blast and I enjoyed playing along side of him.
Velocity Paintball field owners, also friends of mine called me a month later. They had seen us out playing and asked me to put a young guns team together to enter their annual tournament, “Velocity Summer Series”. At the time hockey was the only sport our family focused on. Two teammates and friends from hockey had a paintball party in the woods, we recruited them and “Wrecking Crew” was born. The day of the event was exciting for the team. I kept it cool but my stomach was full of butterflies. They put in some “hard work” and won 2 or 3 games that day. Win or lose you couldn’t take the smiles off their faces all day. From that day forward my son was hooked on tournament paintball.
He worked his way up through the young guns and divisional tournaments for the next few years playing on Wrecking Crew. In 2010 he was offered a tryout to play for Mike Hinman and Aftermath. I knew this was a great opportunity for him, to play for one of the best coaches at recognizing and developing young talent. Aftermath came to an end right before World Cup of the same year. SK and Ironmen offered him a spot for World Cup in 2011. He had always looked up to the players on Ironmen especially Billy Wing, and it was another great opportunity for him. He has played for Ironmen the last 2 years. Working his way from a 1 or 2 point a match player to getting regular playing time and even leading the league in points played in 2012.
I have had the pleasure of coaching my son in sports for 12 years. It has been an amazing experience watching him grow as a player. I know it hasn’t been easy for him. After all who wants a coach who is your dad. I’m glad I have been there with him, going through the same highs and lows of wins and losses, teams falling apart and rebuilding, the loss of friends and teammates. As a coach I have never been easy on him, as a matter of fact I was always toughest on him over the years. It was always my hope to challenge him and have him challenge himself to take his game to the next level. As a dad I couldn’t be any more proud of the player he is becoming. I truly love watching him compete in paintball tournaments.
My memories are fond ones; Chasing alligators in Florida, practicing in pouring rain or blistering heat, South Carolina fireworks war, and endless practical jokes and pranks. But my fondest memory will always be looking out on the paintball field seeing him walking the field, analyzing the bunkers and just taking it all in.
Thank you Eric for letting me tag along on your paintball journey.