Exclusive Interview:Danny Ibarra
by: Matty Marshall
Danny, you’ve been a highly touted up and coming player for a while and I was wondering where you think you are in the progression of your game? What do you feel you’re good at and what do you feel you need to improve on?
-My 2014 season with the Los Angeles Ironmen was a dream come true. I became teammates with players I’ve idolized since the beginning of my paintball career. It was my first season in the professional ranks and I was able to grasp a considerable amount of knowledge from the veterans on the team. During the offseason, we lost many of these veterans to other teams.
Many of last year’s rookies on the squad are now seen as leaders going into the 2015 season. I believe that I am one of these leaders who can provide valuable knowledge for our recent pickups. My field awareness, timing, and ability to communicate definitely reflect my strengths. Learning to mesh with the playing styles of our newer pickups is something I need to improve on.
Where do you feel the most comfortable? Where do you like to play?
-I definitely feel most comfortable playing a front Dorito, the D-side, position. There’s nothing more pleasing than executing sneaky and crafty moves in front of your competitor’s pits. The dorito side of the field is perfect for this.
What does this team mean to you? You’ve been with these guys on your way up the ranks and it would be interesting to know how you look at the Ironmen, and the guys on the squad.
-I’ve been playing with most of the current core players on the Ironmen since early 2006. We’ve all spent nearly half of our lives together. The experiences we’ve shared are equivalent to the dreams we envisioned when we first met. I see the “Ironmen” as a lifelong journey that my best friends and I have worked towards since the beginning of our friendship.
What does the game of paintball mean to you? Why do you play this sport?
-I’ve always been drawn towards the mental acuteness that the sport requires. Each point is a mind game that can be uniquely solved. I view paintball as an outlet for creative expression. The sport allows me to release a considerable amount of physical and emotional energy in a creative fashion. The paintball field is my sanctuary.
How did you get started in paintball? Talk me through your paintball story.
-I started playing paintball in 2004 with my friends from middle school in the Salinas Valley. One of my good friends had his own hyperball field in his backyard. I eventually started competing divisionally with a team called Inflict from Central California. We competed in the XPSL tournament series. Toke Hamil, Jason Vitalich, and Jerry Caro all played for this team.
Team Inflict eventually evolved into Team Royalty. Under this name, our team competed in the NPPL and XPSL tournament series. We competed as a team from 2006 to 2008. In 2009, our team took a hiatus. However, I continued to consistently play with a team called Edge from the Bay Area.
In 2010, my original teammates and I put the Royalty band back together. We formed a strong relationship with Shane Pestana and Jonathan Kolkmann during this year. These two were huge assets to our team. We competed in various WCPPL and PSP tournaments until our team was eventually accepted into the PSP Challenger Division in 2013.
At the end of the 2013 season, we were confronted with the proposition of merging with the Los Angeles Ironmen. This decision was very controversial among our team because half of our members would not make the cut. The merger eventually became a reality. I played the entire 2014 PSP season with the Los Angeles Ironmen and we finished 3rd overall. I’m now into my second season with the team.
Talk to me a bit about the Ironmen’s performance at the first NXL event. You guys made into the quarter finals, which was farther than a lot of people thought you guys would get. It was a great performance for your young team, you only lost to Houston Heat by one point in a low scoring game that knocked you guys out of the tournament on Sunday.
-The Great Lakes Open was a true test for the young talent on our team. Leading up to the event, many of our practices consisted of down-body situational drills and pocket plays. These drilling techniques greatly benefited our team on the Cleveland layout. We were all excited to make Sunday, but being knocked out in the quarterfinals did not deliver us any satisfaction. All of the team seeks improvement.
How has it been to come up under Shane Pestana, who is arguably the most successful player/coach in the game over the past twenty plus years?
-I have an immense amount of respect for Shane. He took me under his wing in 2011. Since then, my paintball career has only gone uphill. Shane is more than just an admirable coach. He is a true role model on and off the field. Strong work ethic is his number one attribute.
What should people expect when they are about to watch an Ironmen game? Why should people care about your team’s story?
-During an Ironmen match, fans should expect to see our team working as a single unit. A winning team looks like a machine from an outside perspective. The Ironmen aspire to appear this way at every event. Our story proves that any young player’s dreams can become a reality in the blink of an eye.