28 Dec 2005 14:39:42
Tony Sr.
pb

A kids' game grows up
Edmonton team newest addition to league competing for big prize money



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PRO PAINTBALLERS COLOUR THE SPORT GREEN: Josh Davey of Edmonton spends three
weeks a month out of the country competing in professional paintball
tournaments. "That's what I do. I travel around the United States and Europe
to shoot people," Davey says.
Photograph by : Rick MacWilliam, The Journal
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Curtis Stock, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Wednesday, December 28, 2005
EDMONTON - OK, everyone on their feet. Let's hear it for Edmonton's newest
professional sports team: the Impact.

Please, don't get up all at once.

These guys are working hard to get ready. Six-hour practices, going over
game plans, making plays.

Sorry, what's that? Oh, the sport?

Paintball.

While the regular season is still a few months away, when you are a
professional sports team there never seems to be quite enough time.

Training sessions are getting longer and more strenuous for the Impact's
first season of competition next year in tournaments around Western Canada
and the United States, especially with the World Cup drawing closer.

The Impact also just signed a prize-catch free agent.

None of this is made up, honest. Professional paintball, World Cups, free
agents -- true, true, true. All of it.

"I'm a professional paintball player," said Josh Davey, the free agent the
Impact just inked to play next year in the Impact's premiere season in the
National Players Paintball League (NPPL). "That's what I do. I travel around
the United States and Europe to shoot people."

Splat. Take that.

"Three out of every four weeks I'm flying somewhere -- California, Texas,
France, Spain.

"I'm a millwright by trade, but my life is paintball. It's another reason
why I'm coming to Edmonton," said Davey, who left his job in Grande Prairie.
"I was told I had to choose between work and paintball. I said paintball.

"I've been playing for nine years and when I look back to when I got started
as a kid, it is insane what has been happening," continued Davey, who is all
of 23 years old.

How insane? Well if the mere fact that paintball and either "sport" or
"professional" are in the same sentence, you'll love the rest.

The NPPL's World Cup, which gives $50,000 to the winner, drew more than 350
teams.

Not only did teams cross over to compete from the other pro paintball
league, the National XBall League (NXL), teams from England, Sweden, France
and even Yugoslavia came to sites in California and Florida.

"One team is the Red Legion," Davey said. "They list their home base as
Boston, but they are all from Russia. They are just like their Russian
hockey teams. They all get paid. They train and play five, six days a week,
film every game, study video."

Oliver Lang, who plays for the NXL's San Diego Dynasty, is the sport's Wayne
Gretzky.

"He is the man. He probably makes over $100,000 a year," said Davey, who
recently rejected a $15,000 offer from another team.

"Oliver does clinics -- $1,000 per session -- sells instructional video DVDs
and with his teammates has turned Dynasty into a corporation, marketing and
selling paintball merchandise."

You still think we're kidding don't you? But just wait. ESPN will show eight
hours of paintball, and Superstation WGN is carrying pro paintball on
satellite Saturday evenings. Hockey didn't work for them; why not paintball?
Talk about your colour commentary....

"Rage in The Cage is what WGN calls it. ... Twenty-two episodes filmed in
Las Vegas," Davey said.

There are also half a dozen glossy monthly paintball magazines. Some even
have swimsuit issues. Hmm, paintball and swim suits. Ouch.