Zak Smith Bio - Because he's a hippie with no PBnation account
First played paintball (pb) in Ö 1998 at Pevís in Virginia at the lovely age of 12 or 13. This was when they were still playing events on the weird pallet looking fields and in the woods. Of course this was for a birthday and then I went again for another birthday and was hooked. Didnít play pb again until 2001 after a move to the southern high desert of Arizona. It was fun but it didnít really have that vibe it did the first time I played. Then I found a bunch of Action Pursuit Magazines in my friendís locker. It was all over at that point.
Ft. Huachuca had a local paintball tourney one day it was 3-man and I played with my two buddies who would also later play on Phoenix United. We got fourth it sucked getting fourth. That feelingÖ isnít nice. More weekends went by and then one day Corey Hale let me shoot his autococker in a game and then bunkered me with my own gun. If it wasnít for Corey Hale and his love and passion for sharing just about everything in his life with the people he cares about I wouldnít be here writing this bio. Corey Hale took me under his wing and taught me everything about paintball and even let me shoot his angel for months and practice against his 10-man team Attitude out of Tucson. This was around 2002. At the end of that year we played the Vegas Pan-Am Young Guns with the puzzle piece bunkers inside of the facility that hosted it. We did alright I forget what place we got but it was fun, the first time I got to realize how big of a part reffing plays in paintball tournaments. Soon after played a PSP 5-man in Chicago (2003 I think) with what would be the core of Phoenix United, we did good made it out of prelims then lost I believe. This was the event they had inside the horse racing arena in Chicago somewhere. Needless to say it was one of the most amazing events I ever got to participate in. United was formed about a month after that. In between that event and the 2003 NPPL Miami event I attended the very first Dynasty clinic from which I returned and began a series of weekends with the team that were solely comprised of drills, 1v1s, 3v1s, snake drills, bunkering drills, running and gunning suicides, and end game situations.
We got 4th place at our first 7-man event in 2003 Miami, playing D3. Even though you learn so much about yourself whenever you lose, 4th place still sucks. From 2004 to 2009 Team United played every NPPL event. I donít remember when we made the jump but we played Semi-Pro in 2007 and 2008. We made Sunday practically every event but the highest place we ever got was 2nd in D2. The highest place we got in the Semi-Pro division was a 3rd place at the Buffalo event. Soon all the events began to blend together. We played X-ball a couple of times a year as we were primarily a 7-man team. We played D3 Pomona when it rained and was a crazy mud fest; we lost to Aftermath in the finals of that event. After that every X-ball event we played was either D1 or the highest below pro. We got smashed on to say the least but it was a fun learning experience.
From here, as a team wanted to get better and the only way to do this was to practice in California, against the best, practicing mostly at Eric Felixís field in Acton, CPP in Castiac, or the OG Raza field at Mr. Paintball. After about 2006 United made a decision not to play that much in Arizona unless it was local i.e. Sierra Vista which is the city everyone who originally started United is from. At least two practices in Cali before every NPPL event with a drill weekend in between. The town of Sierra Vista is an hour south of Tucson and three hours south of Phoenix, basically a military town in the middle of nowhere. We had our own private field in Sierra Vista where we drilled on off weekends or in between Cali practices. We were able to play local Arizona tournaments up until 2007 when the promoters of the local events changed the rules to not allow any player ranked higher then D1 to play. Needless to say this helped distance us from Arizona paintball greatly.
As the team grew older we began to space ourselves apart all over the state with the kids (Myself and two others) going to College. I went to ASU from 2005 to 2009. Playing paintball like that and going to college wasnít that hard you just missed every Friday either driving to California, driving to Sierra Vista, or playing locally when there were night games. Paintball was my life. At the end of 2008 when the NPPL went bottoms up due to a certain situation, I didnít know what was going on with the team or the league but I still wanted to play. So I played the 2009 PSP Phoenix with Free Train Rides in D2. Good times choo choo choooooooo!!!!!
After the storm cloud cleared with the NPPL, the USPL formed. Phoenix United purchased a pro spot for 2009 only to have half of our core leave before the year began. Making the jump to Pro was always the goal for United and its players but what happened at the beginning of 2009 was also the beginning of the end. Our team captain left to start a family, and Corey Hale was pushed out of the team by people undisclosed. At the end of 2008 United had 7 Arizona players and 2 California players. The new team captain for 2009 thought it was best to only have 5 Arizona based players with 2 Cali players and one or two random pros playing each event. If you play paintball competitively it is very fun to play with new players on who have been on the pro level for way longer then you but at the same time you know this isnít conducive to success, especially when you only get one full team practice before an event at this level. We didnít make Sunday all year and it was very brutal seeing a family die slowly. It all came crumbling down at USPL Vegas 2009. We had two California practices set up before this event and neither of them were full team practices. Phoenix United then shows up to Vegas decides to add another pro to the roster that didnít practice with us at all, and we get stepped on. The only game we won, which we didnít even win was because Explicit got a bad gun penalty. With that poor performance our main private sponsors Pinless.com and South Southwest Trading Company decided to end the team. So it was a bitter sweet ending to something that was so amazing for several years.
Massive respect to all the teams United has ever practiced with in Arizona and in California over the years. Big Ups! Thank you.
After 2009 didnít play paintball until 2012 at the PSP Phoenix with the Hellcats. Yes the D3 team you all think we are. I had so much fun at this event even though we lost all of our matches very convincingly, I realized I could still play and have fun and shoot people. After this I was pretty much done for the year. Maybe play rec-ball or an event here or there. No desire really. Then Phil Veatch asked me about actually joining a new team he was starting. At first I really didnít want to play because this was an Arizona based team and my mindset is still and always will be if you want to go anywhere with paintball move to California. Period. Norcal or Socal. Sac-town, San Diego or in between are your best bets. Find the three big fields spread out across the state and do a lot of work. Then something struck me, I could share the knowledge and experience I have with this luxury game to people who WANT to learn and get better. Bring the tools and routines of Phoenix United to Contact. Share my love of this sport/game whatever to a group of people that want paintball to succeed in Arizona. Honestly nothing feels better than being able to share something I love so much with my heart with other people that are slowly becoming family and are learning and getting better with each and every weekend. Then being asked to play in the professional division was not only surprising and unexpected but universally confirming for me. I look forward to the upcoming adventure that is Phoenix Contact and the dream that follows.