"The first US NXL event of the year has come and gone, and after a few days of catching up on sleep and recovering from red eye flights, I can finally organize my thoughts about the tournament for us as a team.
In addition to having a lot of changes to the roster for Team Ironmen, we were also faced with some other challenges that we had to overcome. Dan Norcross broke his hand at the first team practice of the year, and Corey Hall had his wedding during the first event (congrats, brother). This means that we went into the tournament with a very new and very thin roster. Most would see this as adversity, but I can proudly say that we took it as opportunity. A thinner roster meant more reps for the players and this allowed everyone to develop a groove and rhythm.
I am thoroughly impressed with how quickly the team came together - as a group we had played a total of 9 days of paintball together. The biggest asset that teams can have at our level is an evolved level of communication, ie. body language cues, learning one another's tendencies, knowing how different personalities react to situations throughout days of competition, etc. These are things that you can only learn with time and time alone. I feel like with the limited amount of time that we have had together, we absolutely made the most of it. This can be attributed to everyone’s willingness to buy into our team's system and ethos. We are a very ego-free team, and from our sophomores all the way up to the vets, we talk through situations and scenarios from an even level. This showed the most at the event in our ability to win low body situations, and keep matches tight in point margin when it mattered. The biggest factor to this quickly growing cohesion has without a doubt been the “off time” that we spend together. Nights out together getting drinks, team dinners, craps table marathons, and the list goes on and on. These moments are what bring teams closer together and that ultimately is what reduces the learning curve of one another's styles and thought processes. I couldn’t be more excited to see where this year takes us. As we rapidly approach the next training days for the Dallas event, we get closer and closer to being full strength as a roster.
We can't talk about Vegas without mentioning a few names on the roster. Alan Goulding had the best event I’ve ever seen him play. He played with a newfound confidence, and his game on a technical level has reached new heights. I watched him one-ball countless people, and creatively put himself in positions to close games out like I have never seen out of him before. In addition, Al Fernandez also played out of his mind this event. He communicated well, hit his shots on the break, played quarterback when needed and capped it all off with a “move of the day” against Heat on Saturday. I couldn’t be more proud of these two and what they brought to the table for the team. They have been busting their asses and it really shows.
Our team is a threat to anyone that lines up against us. As time goes on and we gel more and more, you can expect big things out of The Shield this season."