I would like to take the time to introduce our assistant coach Roddy MacDonald; a legend in his own right. In the interest of time and accuracy, I have taken an article from VelocityMag.ca, an older paintball magazine which in a 1998 edition featured our assistant coach and mentor. All credit for this writing goes to him and to VelocityMag. Enjoy.
Hi, my name is Roddy MacDonald, better known in the paintball world as “Rowdy”. This journey begins in 1989, the first time I ever played a new game called Paintball. Like most of you, I played the first time with a group of friends, but it was different for me. Paintball was me! I loved it! From that day on, my life has changed. Virtually everything I’ve done since revolves around paintball.
I Started by playing local tournaments in Atlantic Canada, this is where the seed of Spikes Paintball was first planted. I met a player named Gary Mackenzie, a bond was formed and we started a Spikes dynasty that would last for many, many years. Together we started playing in Quebec and Ontario with instant success. But we were in search of bigger goals; the United States was our next logical step.
In the early 1990′s, we began attending the Zap International Amateur Open in Pittsburgh. This is where destiny stepped in. I met Mike Carey from Calgary and began playing under his famed Personal Vendetta squad, the best team in Canada at the time. During my time with Personal Vendetta, we played many NPPL events and were the first amateur team to beat “Aftershock”, on of the best teams in Paintball.
At the Zap Open in Pittsburgh, I met my paintball idol, Bob Long, captain of the world famous Ironmen, the winningest team in paintball history. Bob who would eventually become my mentor, had a booth set up displaying his new autocockers. As I was standing in line at his booth, with all the other paintballers who wanted their chance to meet paintball’s legend, Bob noticed a Hoyt ball cap I was wearing. Bob Long has many talents, one of which is bow hunting, so he commented on my hat and asked if I was an archer. I told him that I was, so excited to have a conversation with “Father Paintball.” It was like a dream come true. During our chat, he asked if I would like to take his autococker down to the field and try it out. “Yes, I do!” was all I could say.
I played three games with his gun. It was like playing with the Holy Grail of paintball! It was so amazing, I will never forget that feeling. I took many pictures to show my friends back home, just in case they thought my story was exaggerated. To this day, those pictures hang on my wall. Bob was everything you could hope for in an idol, sociable, ready to lend a hand, and truly interested in people. He personified what paintball is to me, the game we love! After this meeting, I had my mind set on a new goal, to play with the Ironmen under Bob’s guidance.
On the way to his place, he said he didn’t know what little Canadian paintball field I cam from
In the summer of 1997, I called Bob Long and asked for a tryout, only to learn that he gets ten calls a day asking the same question. After talking to him for a while, he told me that they were holding a practice in Las Vegas and that if I could make it there, I could have my tryout. So I saved my pennies and off I went to Las Vegan to try out for the dream team. It was a great weekend, Bob and I had so much in common. At the end of the tryout, he asked if I would like to go spend a week at his house, shoot some bows and talk some paintball. On the way to his place, he said he didn’t know what little Canadian paintball field I cam from, but I wasn’t going back. I was the newest member of the Ironmen. WAHOO!
The following year, with Bob and the Ironmen, we placed third in the NPPL series title. In 1998, I won my first world championship. Bob Long has been my biggest influence in this sport. He has shown me how to win, lose and to achieve mush more than I ever dreamed possible. After three years under Bob’s guidance, I made one of the hardest decisions of my life: I left the Ironmen to join the All Americans.
So began the next chapter in my paintball career. It was here that I played with some of paintballs’ greatest players: Billy and Adam Gardner, George Davidson< Dan (Heavy D) Holmes. These guys were legends in the sport. The time spent with these great players helped form me as a paintball player. As I played alongside these legends, I watched, learned and was taught to perfect my paintball skills along with my game. With the All Americans, I was taught a different style of paintball, bringing my skills to a new lever of perfection.
The new game was strategic, accurate and very methodical; the excellence of execution. Throughout the world, we won many tournaments. It was a great time to be of the All Americans, when the team was at the peak of its career. During a tournament in England, as we walked on the field to play an amateur team, one of the players walked up to me and shook my hand. He said it was an honor for them to play against the All Americans. This made me very proud and as he walked away I thought to myself that it was an honor for me to be an All American.
The year 2003 saw the beginning of the NXL. This was the brainchild of Richmond Italia. His goal was to bring paintball to a new frontier, network TV. Richmond planned to form a leagued called the NXL with the eight best teams in the world. One of those teams was the All Americans. In Richmond’s new league, they would be known as the Philly Americans. The new games was fast paced, exciting and more demanding. We had to make changes to our playing styles as well as play with new set of rules. From the very stat, we embraced this new format of play and put all our efforts into perfecting our game. We began our season very strong. While other teams were struggling trying to fit the new game to their playing style, we were changing our style to fit the game. By season end, we were in second place. The first place team was my friend and mentor, Bob Long’s new team, the Oakland Assassins. Like the Philly Americans, the Oakland Assassins had adapted to the new format and were playing to perfection. It seemed only fitting that we met in the finals in Orlando. This was a much-anticipated event; players in both teams were pumped and ready to take the title. Our strategy was a mental one, we knew we had to beat the Oakland Assassins in the first game. This would make it clear to them that we were there to take the title and nothing was going to stand in our way.
I had many mixed feelings going into this match with Oakland. I had won a world championship in 1998 with at least half the players now on the Assassins team. Bob Long, Zack Long, Kevin Jones, Ron Nelson and Little John had been my team mates for three years. I knew that Oakland team as well as the Philly Americans. Bob would be their general, putting the soldiers to work. I don’t remember much about our first match, except it was very close and we won! I felt this win was the key to our NXL world title. The second match was not quite so close, but we controlled the game and took the title. Time seemed to stand still, the clock didn’t seem to move, the seconds didn’t click off fast enough, it was agonizing…When the clock finally hit zero, the celebration began.
I’ve won many events and titles over the years, but that one was different; much, much different. To be on the best team in the world and winning the NXL, the toughest league in the world, was amazing.
The first person I had to call was my brother Randy, back home running spikes paintball in little old Prince Edwards Island. Earlier in the week when we spoke, Randy asked how I thought we would do. I’d told him not to tell anyone, but I felt that we were unstoppable. Over the years, we’ve developed a little system when we’re away playing at tournaments. If we call, we’re doing well and if we don’t call, we’ve lost or are doing poorly. I dialed his number and he picked up the phone instantly. He’d been hoping for the call. Very few words were spoken. I remember when I hung up the phone tears were running down my face.
Going from my local field to the top of the world was a journey that I will never forget. I hope that all those paintball players out there with a dream of becoming world champions never give up on that dream because dreams really do come true. It doesn’t matter if you are a paintballer from York, PEI or Victoria, BC there is a road that will lead you to the top. I hope to show you this road.