I'm Nick, 34 years old, player for Miami Venom, jersey #88, Miami, FL.
I'm the founder and owner of Grow The Sport Paintball, a new brand in the paintball community.
I've began playing paintball in 1999 at the age of 12.
I quickly fell in love with this sport.
I was terrified my first time on the field hearing all the paint hitting the bunkers and feeling like this is going to hurt.
I remember an older player came up to me because he saw I kept sitting out while staring at the field with all my gear.
He basically dragged me in a loving way onto my first game and told me he'd protect me.
He was encouraging me to face my fear.
The field was called Ruff N Tuff in Miami which is no longer in business.
I remember obsessing about upgrades and parts for my Spyder and saving all my money to ride my bike to a local shop to put all these useless pieces on my marker but loving every minute of seeing the creation I've been piecing together.
Over the next years I continued to pursue paintball and slowly upgraded to a few markers.
My first "high end" marker was a KAPP Autococker and I loved it... This thing was a new level of paintball for me.
I remember watching a video called Push and my life was inspired so deeply watching these pros and wanting so much to play like them.
All the young Dynasty kids, Avalanche, After Shock, Iron Men, and so many others I looked up to so much.
I would go to my local shop daily and at the age of 14 the owner said "you're literally here every single day, why don't you just work here?"
There began my first job at Splat Attack Paintball and these people became my family.
I was sponsored by the shop so now all my paint was free and Joel, the owner would rarely make me pay for any marker I fell in love with including my Dragon Intimidator fresh off the shelf back in 2001 when Dynasty was starting to make an impact in the sport and was shooting these.
We played many events and traveled a bit in Florida.
I remember playing World Cup NPPL 2003 and meeting some of the previously mentioned role models and just feeling so connected, so full, just so me.
But things in like change as we find ourselves.
Life continued to move forward for me but life presented me with many challenges along the way.
I began making some choices that would ultimately lead me down a difficult road and around the age of 17 my choices had lead me away from paintball.
Over the next 7 years paintball was no longer a part of my life but it was the one thing I always knew was the purest form of passion for me but I did not see myself ever having the capability to play again due to the position I had put my life in.
After some more years of consequences and a lot of low bottoms and bumping my life against a wall I had finally made a decision to change my life.
Yes, I'm talking about drug addiction and yes I am now in recovery since 2010.
When my life reached a place that I was finally able to see myself having the financial freedom to play paintball again I was all in.
Recovery had brought me back to life, a better life, and paintball is and has always been that early childhood good memory place for me.
I've been active now for the last 7 years or so between small breaks when each of my children were born now ages 7 and 3.
A couple of my teammates and myself started Miami Venom in 2020 in the midst of Covid and in 2022 I played my first event since NPPL World Cup 2003... 19 Years since my last event...
Paintball for me is so much more than a weekend activity or a hobby.
This sport is and has been the purest thing in my life, my go to, my happy place, my nostalgia, my heartbeat.
I'm free from it all on the field.
I'm no professional writer but this is my story.