2012 ROTY Interviews: Nick Leival

This week on PBA we have interviews with the Rookie of the Year candidates. Upton 187 cRew’s Captain Nick Leival has a few interesting things to say about his rookie year and his thoughts on the game. Read his profile here. And check out his stats here. Remember to vote!

Tell me a little about your road getting here. How did you get to this stage of your career?

I can attribute my progression to the pro ranks with three contributing factors– support, hard work, and a little luck. Starting off like many players previous to me, I began playing in the woods, with my friends and at my local field, at the time Friendly Fire Paintball in Upton, Mass.

This is where the beginning of my luck and support came from. After being noticed playing in some of their rookie 3-man tournaments I was recruited by the captain, Bert Gibson (who I really attribute for the reasons I got anywhere in paintball) and was given the opportunity to play for the field team.

Together “Friendly Fire Factory” (This I when “factory” teams where the rage) had a few VERY successful seasons. We worked our way up to the top of the New England paintball scene. There was a point where a divide grew in the team, where some players were being pulled away by life (Shout out time: guys I really miss playing with and hanging out with like Greg, Chad, Mark, Aaron and Chuck) and the others were looking to get some bigger shoes to grow into by playing national events.

This is when our good captain, Bert, found us a great opportunity to join with another successful local team who had a little more grow room. This is where I became a player for 187 cRew, and introduced to X-Ball.

We played a few successful seasons in different leagues like AXBL but ended up finding a home in PSP. With such great backing from our sponsors, our team owners (Dave Painter and Curt Janson) and much of our families, I know without mine it was a dream that would have never been achieved, we put in the hard work together to make our way though each division.

I have now made it to the division that I truly want to play in.

How did you feel about your first year playing in the PSP pro division, about playing big league paintball?

What is more exciting than being shot at and cheered for at the same time? No other place in the world can you combine that combination of stimulations. So in a word, thrilled.

Paintball has always been something I have enjoyed to do. The feeling of outwitting or outmaneuvering an opponent, the self-discipline it takes to keep your thoughts rational and moves crisp when your back is against the wall and everything inside of you wants to give into the fear.

Now do it in front of fans that expect the best from you, cameras that never forget, and against some of the players you have tried to emulate when it comes to how paintball should be played?

I dig it.

What was your best on-field moment in 2012?

My best on-field moment in 2012 is kind of a personal moment. It came in Galveston in the rain after a few back and fourth points with Infamous. They ended up getting a lead on us and for the end of a point that was basically for the win, one of them bunkered me (borderline unnecessarily) with more severity than I think would have been used in a grudge match.

In the moment when the foam on my earpieces was being torn apart and pushed into my bloodstream, I had a strange reaction– I smiled. My thoughts were, “What would make him want to do this? What point was being proved?

I then realized… at some point in this game, he had felt fear. At some point in this game, us, 187 cRew, the team from nowhere, had (if only briefly) scared a monster. This was an action of a giant trying to kill the fear in itself, to send a statement, to make sure I would hesitate in the future.

This moment really sparked a motivation in me to become a monster too.

How would you say you played this year?

I played decently this year. I really wish I had played with the confidence I play with in practice. I found myself hesitating a lot. Hopefully with the first season jitters out of the way, I can play how I know I can next year.

What was your best move or best game in this year?

This is going to seem like a cop out answer. But I don’t care. I am always looking for the next move and next game, not looking back at the previous ones. Paintball is a sport where you need to have a short memory. I never want to get caught up in good things I have done, and focus on fixing mistakes I make.

Describe your playing style?

My playing style is reverse fear. I always try to imagine myself in my opponent’s shoes. I imagine what move or time to gun-battle would frighten me if I was in their position…and then I do it.

What are your weakness and your strengths as player?

My weaknesses as a player are the rushed midgame plans I make. Sometimes I come up with really complicated moves that would work, but I often I’m thinking too far ahead and take for granted the moment I am in. For example, I will see a route to bunker 2 guys, but mid bunkering the first, I will be thinking about the second, and miss my first shot. I need to work more on succeeding in these moments.

How do you feel about being named a candidate for “Rookie of the Year”?

Such a great feeling! It is an honor to be listed with these other players, whose talent I have grown much respect for. I have not been recognized for anything like this before, and it really makes this season feel like the right start.

What is 2013 looking like for you?

2013 is looking like a year where 187 will move out of the bottom bracket. I think now we know our competition, we can raise our own playing abilities, just as we have done every year before.

Anything additional you want to say?

I would like to thank all the people who had their hand in helping me get to where I am, my teammates, my friends, my sponsors, and mostly my family.

Finally, to all of those paintball players who have the dream of playing pro, I have never seen size, shape, color, or gender inhibit someone from being a great paintball player, only doubts. Don’t doubt yourself if you want to be a pro paintball player…it’s a bad way to get shot.

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If you have an interesting paintball story you feel absolutely must be told, contact us at yourstory@paintballaccess.com.

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