Brandon's Back

by: Matty Marshall

First off, how’s your shoulder? When do you think you could be back in action?

Well, my shoulder has seen better days. I recently scheduled my surgery, which will take place August 13, so I will be playing with the Ironmen in the upcoming Virginia Open. Unfortunately, I will have to watch from the sidelines this year at the World Cup. My doctor said the recovery time varies for everyone, but I am looking at around 6+ months for a full recovery. I should able to start drilling again around 3-4 months with little to no slides. So if all goes as planned I will be 100% by the beginning of next season.


How bad was it the injury when it happened at Dallas? It looked bad. Didn’t they have to put your shoulder back in the socket at the hospital because it wouldn’t go back in at the field?

Yeah it was worse than it looked. That was by far the most painful experience I have encountered. As soon as I dove into the dorito I screamed to Marcello (who was next to me at the time) that I tore something in my shoulder. The feeling was indescribable. After the point ended and I was in the pit, a few people tried to help put my shoulder back into place but it locked up so quickly I was forced to take an ambulance to the hospital. Keep in mind I was drenched in mud and still wearing my paintball gear.

Once I got to the hospital I had to wait in a bed for what seemed a lifetime. Finally I was given large amounts of drugs to sedate me but nothing was working. (I believe it was because I accidently drank WAY too much pre-workout) Once I was unconscious, they had a difficult time setting my shoulder so they tied a sheet to my arm and pulled, while two people held me down. It was a very long 3 hours to say the least. Needless to say, I was pretty sore the next day.


Jesus, yeah, that sounds absolutely terrible. Wish you the best luck with it at the next event and with the upcoming surgery. So, when Marcello left for Dynasty, did you feel any extra pressure to perform? You are widely considered one of the best players on your team, and enroute to being one of the better players in the league. How do you manage those expectations, both from your own mind and other people’s expectations? 

When Marcello left it shocked everyone; he was the backbone of our team. With his absence it left a large gap that needed to be filled. His departure made everyone realize we have to perform to our potential if we want to win. We no longer have anyone to hold our hand. 

So yes, I think we all felt extra pressure to consistently play at a higher standard than what most people would expect from us. In order to play at this level, we all picked it up a notch. Not only did we practice every weekend but most of us started to play throughout the week to sharpen up on our fundamentals. For me, playing 3 times a week, and not the mention the hours spent in gym everyday, makes managing the expectations easier when you know you are doing everything in your power to be the best player you can be.


A lot of people don’t really know how young you are, you just graduated from high school. How much do you want paintball to play into you life moving forward?  Things change as you head into college. Do you plan in keeping paintball a priority in your life? 

Well, I am 18 and heading off to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in a few months to study Business, specifically Marketing. I realize a lot will change in the next four years but I plan on keeping paintball a priority in my life. After college I’m not sure what I want to do yet, but I see paintball being a large part of my future no matter what I end up doing.


How important is this game to you? Why do you love it as much as you do?

Paintball is such a unique game I could go on for hours about it but to give a concise answer, I love paintball because it allows you to escape your problems and just focus on the task at hand. It is my oasis. It also attracts people from all walks of life, which is awesome because you meet amazing individuals you may never would have talked to. Some of the relationships I have built through paintball are lifelong because of our shared interest in the game.


How do you feel the team played at the first NXL event? You guys definitely performed better than many people thought you would. A lot of people wrote you guys off after the big name stars left, thinking it would take the team some time to bootstrap your way up.

I think the team played well at the first NXL event, but not to our potential. We made small mistakes in both the X-Factor and Heat game that ended up costing us the event. I understand that there is no perfect paintball match, but in order for us to be a top team we have to limit our mistakes in crucial situations. That is why the big name players excel.

Players like Archie, Federov, Greenspan, Goldman etc. make very few mistakes in high pressure situations. They also have an extremely high paintball IQ, which only comes from years and years of experience. The Ironmen are one of the youngest teams (Paxson is young at heart) and I only see us scratching the surface of our potential. We still have a lot to learn, but we are confident in each other and are ready to work toward becoming the top team that we know we are capable of.


Who else do you feel on the Ironmen has really stepped up and performed well for the squad? Who are the guys the fans should watch closely at the next NXL webcast this weekend? 

Everyone on our team has stepped up in one way or another this year but I would say to keep your eyes out for Danny Ibarra, Jason Vitalich, Toke Hamil, and Al Fernandez. They are all stellar players and incredibly fun to watch. They have a little more experience than a few players on our team but I think the up and comer who will surprise everyone is Jerry Caro. He spent the past month living down here in San Diego and has a phenomenal work ethic. He will be a top player if he sticks with it. All Jerry needs is a little more experience along with Danny Nelan (who was just picked up last event) and they will be a force in the Pro brackets.


What’s the secret to getting good? A lot of younger players would love to be in your shoes, 18 years old, playing for a legendary pro team. What advice would you give to anyone who wants to go pro one day, and even just play on a high-level tournament team?

Honestly, there isn’t one secret that will turn you into a pro. The best advice I can give a young player trying to become pro would to play as much as you can, primarily against players who are better than you. I know it isn’t fun to get shot up but you learn more from losing than you do from winning. 

Also don’t be afraid to shoot at targets. I know it isn’t nearly as much fun as playing points but it will increase your skill level quicker than anything. Drilling with targets in my mind is the key to becoming a great paintball player. The thing about targets is that there is no doubt, you either hit the target or you didn’t. There isn’t any question if you bounced it or if it wiped the hit. If you set a time once a week to run a set of drills you will be well on your way toward becoming a professional player.

Lastly, I would say watch as much paintball as possible. Don’t just watch the game, key up on specific players. See what makes them successful in their position and try to replicate it. Building a high paintball IQ not only comes from playing the game but also watching it. I believe these are the three most important habits you must obtain if you want to become a professional or top player. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my questionnaire. I hope you enjoyed/benefited from this article. If you ever need any advice or have any questions feel free to reach out to me on any of my social media pages. Thank you again.