The Ironmen are the oldest team in the PSP Pro Division, but only in legacy, not age. They have one of the youngest rosters in the league and their Coach Kevin “SK” Bredthauer, who won championships as a player for Dynasty, is trying to whip his young team into Championship form as quick as possible. SK talks with Paintball Access about his struggle to mold this young squad in the aftermath of the Chicago Open, where they took 4th, and about his experience coaching some of the best players and teams in paintball over the past 5 years.
This is Part 2 of his interview. Read Part 1 here.
Yeah, learning the tendencies of the guys playing for you and how to handle them is a difficult task.
Like when I coached Dynasty, that’s a good example. Some of them I could believe more than others. They would say, “this move isn’t possible”, and some would say, “Ok, I don’t think that’s right move, but I‘ll do it anyway”. But who’s actually telling you the truth, or just what you want to hear? I’m still learning that with some of my mid guys, especially, like Raney (Stanczak) and Arod (Alex Rodriguez). And Ryan Martin too.
You were a top-level player with Dynasty ten years ago, and then you coached multiple teams. The roll of a coach in this sport has, and still is, evolving, and there are different strategies. There are only a handful of guys who can do this, who have the level of respect, and experience, to deal with the pro players. It’s really tough. Top teams are always trying to find someone to play the coach role because you really need it now to succeed. There aren’t a lot of good paintball coaches out there. What are your thoughts on your roll and the evolution of things?
Well, there are different types of coaches, a lot of different ways to do it. There are motivational coaches, which I’m not very good at. Like Shane Pestana, Mike Hinman, very emotional coaches. Which helps for some people. Then there are very analytical coaches, they watch all the plays.
Like Paul Richards
Yeah, guys who watch the percentages. Paul Richards is sort of like that but not exactly. It’s more of Russian thing. But Dan Wake does a lot of that too. He’s a very percentage, math-centered coach. Then there are coaches who are in between. And then there are the coaches who have been there before, and there are not a lot of those.
Well, that’s you for sure. You’ve most definitely been there before.
Luckily, I’ve done everything and been in every spot too. I’ve been the player who never had to worry about sitting, ‘till the end, when I did have to worry about sitting. So, I know where those guys are at, the guys on the low end of the totem pole. So that’s important too. Some coaches don’t understand that, they’ll say, ”He’ll just sit”. Well, (laughs) it’s not that easy. There is a lot more involved than that. There’s not a best coach because different teams win all the time, but some handle their teams better than others.
How do you feel about the different teams and programs you’ve been involved with? You tried to coach Dynasty and that was hard, because they’re kind of un-coachable. Well, maybe not un-coachable, but they’ve been through so much, won so much, defined paintball for ten years or so. But now you need a coach because there are so many moving parts. It’s so entertaining to watch a Dynasty practice, because they bicker like brothers so much. But that’s their relationship, it’s the way they communicate with each other during paintball, and it has obviously worked over the years. Now you have Mike Hinman, who has been coaching them for two seasons, and doing well with the program. But they’ve always kind of struggled with having a coach.
I don’t think they do at all.
You don’t think they bicker?
Oh yeah, but they’ve always done that, that normal operating procedure for them.
It’s just fun to watch. I like going to practices to just watch that.
I think this is how they work: They go through cycles. They get real good, then they either slack off, or it’s a mental thing, and then they start sucking. And then say, “Oh we need someone to help us get things together.” The first time that happened it was Darrel Trent (former old school Ironmen legend, former coach of the Philly Americans, when they won a championship) and he helped. Then they get to a point when they think that guy sucks, he’s terrible at coaching. I think they had another coach in-between. Then I started helping them, and I changed some things and brought some new guys on, instead of old guys. They’re a big fan of picking up old, experienced guys, which I think is a terrible idea.
Which is the opposite of what you’re doing right now with the Ironmen. You’re picking up new blood instead of established pros.
Yeah, when I was coaching Dynasty I brought out Ryan Martin (who plays on the Ironmen now), Mark Lak, and the old Arod. Then the next year the rosters dropped to 8, so people didn’t have to worry about their spots. Then it got very hard to coach, because people are very opinionated and always think they’re right. Which is really hard to do when you’re playing.
Yes it is.
When bad things happened, it was normally one guy’s fault, and not the team’s fault. That’s just part of their dynamic.
Then you coached Infamous for a while.
I coached them for 3 tournaments.
How did that come about?
That was just LB (Brian Fow) and JR (John Richardson) asking, ”Hey, can you come out, help coach us?” And they were the biggest joy to coach, they were extremely reasonable, just the nicest people I’ve ever had to coach. They were my friends, but they were also very coachable, more so than you could imagine. Even JR, who at the time was one of the best players in the league, was just like, “Ok, what do you want me to do? Go here? Ok, sure.”
What challenges confront you right now, in your current job coaching the Ironmen, trying to build them into a winning team again?
The hardest part is the mental edge. That’s it. They just have to believe they’re better than everybody else. That’s what separates the really good players from players who are just technically good.
Yeah, look at how Nicky Cuba has been able to stay at the top for so long. He started the year not playing up to his potential, but he played great the last tournament, he played great the event before that. He’s not a midget; he’s 205 pounds, 6’1’, 30 years old, and not all that fast either. And look at Mike Paxson, bigger guy, not the fastest player in the world, but he’s amazing with his gun and he’s tenacious. Those guys have been able to stay at the top for along time.
Yeah, I almost think you have to be, well, this is the wrong word for it, but you almost have to be dumb (laughs), you have to think, “I am still better than everyone”.
Stubborn. I think you have to be stubborn.
Yeah, stubborn (laughs) that’s the right word. The really intellectual people have a hard time with that, they think, “Crap, I watched this guy and he’s really good” where as Nicky and Mike will just say, “Whatever, he just got lucky”. And it works, because they never give in.
So if you had to put a starting five out, for an Overtime point, right now, based on this year’s performance, who would it be?
Ryan Martin, Justin Schwarz, Paxson, Eric Humphries, and then… Toke Hamil, at this point.
(Mikko Huttunen yells) You’d have to pull me out of retirement!
Yeah, and I guess Mikko, sometimes.
Mikko, are you coming out of retirement for World Cup or what?
Mikko: Oh, you have no idea!
Stop teasing man, you keep saying that!
Mikko: Dude, it’s going to be amazing!
So SK, who‘s the best team in the league right now, not including your team?
I don’t think there is one. Hmmm, no, there isn’t one.
Ok justify your answer, because three teams have won this year.
Obviously Infamous won the last one, so..
Yeah, but they didn’t play great before that. And Heat played really well the first two events, but didn’t play all that great last event.
You could also make the argument Heat just had a really good weekend, when then took second and first at Phoenix (Galveston was rained out, so two events were played in one weekend.)
That’s true, maybe they were just good on that field, because both those events were on the same layout. Teams haven’t really switched players either, and we have, that’s not something I’m scared to do and some teams are. Well, I guess Dynasty has, but Infamous hasn’t, Heat hasn’t, and the Russian’s haven’t really either.
So you’re not scared to try new players?
Yeah, Toke is a great example of that. I didn’t really play him too much in the first events, because he was new.
Did he stand out in practice, or was it one of those things where Spicka wasn’t getting it done on the snake side and you just threw Toke in there and he started to perform, so you just kept running him? He did have some good points before Chicago.
Yeah, he did. Both. But I bet Toke could count all the points he’s played. He’s only played 3 pro events.
Well, you guys look strong in the long run, good luck the rest of the year. I can’t wait to see how the story plays out.
Thanks, neither can I.
Make sure to mark your calendars for August 10th-12th, when you can watch the free, live webcast on Paintball Access and find out how the Ironmen do during the 4th event of the year, the PSP Mid Atlantic Open.