Michael Waring of Tampa Bay Damage
Interview By Te’Shawn Crenshaw for Splat Life Media
Photo by FAVA Photography
Michael Waring is a person who reminds me of that one friend in the group when no matter what he does he will be great at it. As we talked, we really got passionate in this interview, it was pure determination, something I thrive off of. Michael’s words are meaningful, his story is heartfelt, and he wanted his presence to be known by Tampa Bay Damage as a threat on the field. This IS the interview of Paintball Life that shows you little goals lead to bigger goals and it’s just simply up to you to achieve them.
Click Here to watch the Tampa Bay Damage Resurrection Series Season 2:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCMTaUuU0nU
Splat Life: Ok Mike, so before you got on Damage you played for Rack City Klutch correct?
Michael: Yes, I played for RCK all of 2014, and Dallas 2015 before having my tryout for Damage.
Splat Life: How did you get a tryout? I don’t remember you being in the first episode of the resurrection series.
Michael: I got my tryout by proving myself during the practices we would schedule with Damage when I was on RCK. We were the most competitive team in the state at the time and got the opportunity to play Damage a lot. I took those practices serious and put in my effort to make sure that the guys knew who I was on the other side of the field and that I could hang with the best of them. I’ve known most of the Damage guys for quite a few years previously though because I played divisional with Total Karnage back in 2010 when myself, Jacob, and Keith Brown were all in the same program. Jason coached us at the time so the guys have seen me play my national series from start to finish. Well, not finish, but up into the present (laughs).
Splat Life: That’s a pretty cool way to get in. What was the thought process leading up to that moment to going pro?
Michael: Ever since I got into the tournament scene I was a huge fan of the Philly Americans, with Jason specifically being my favorite player to watch. When he started coaching us on TK and then made the move to Damage I immediately became a huge fan of the team. Once Jake and Keith got the bump up to Damage as well, it made me want to make it to that level with some of my best friends. I had some real life situations prevent me from playing for a while as well as a couple surgeries, but I came back strong in 2013 and set my mind on getting on Damage no matter what it took. It took a lot longer than I hoped, insane sacrifices, and a whole lot of work and dedication, but I’m finally here and couldn’t be happier with life.
Splat Life: Would you be willing to share some of what those setbacks and sacrifices were? I think that’s the defining moment for most paintball players.
Michael: For me the biggest thing holding me back was finances. My parents split when I was getting into the sport and they were not supportive of me playing the sport at the time. So I had to find ways to play every weekend, whether it was odd jobs here and there, buying and selling gear on PBnation, or helping at the local field for paint. I did everything I could to play every weekend and make the events. My parents splitting hit me pretty hard because I thought my family was the last family that would ever split. My teammates and friends I met in paintball became my escape from real life, and it just felt like paintball is where I belonged. I put my heart and soul into the sport and am forever grateful that I never listened to everyone that told me that I could never make it, that I was wasting my time shooting paintballs at people every weekend and it would take me no where in life. I took that personally and used it as fuel to the fire to make it to the pro level. I missed many family birthdays, events, and even missed my moms small wedding when she married my step dad because of paintball. It takes a lot of hard decision making to make it to the top, but I feel it’s paid off for me. I made my dream come true to play for tampa bay damage and am fortunate enough to have a job in the industry as well at Exalt running the warehouse.
Splat Life: Amazing. It’s good to hear how driven you got to be in general, it’s all about sacrifice no matter what you do. My next question was going to be about working at Exalt, what’s that like?
Michael: Working at Exalt is amazing. Being able to be around paintball 7 days a week is a pleasure to me. I get to do a lot of awesome custom work for leagues, teams, and fields all over the world and just being able to be all paintball, all the time is what I strived for growing up. Working there doesn’t even feel like work. I wake up every day excited to go in and see what kind of cool things I get to do each day.
Splat Life: How did you land that job?
Michael: A friend of mine I’ve known for quite a while was the previous warehouse manager and he was offered another opportunity he couldn’t refuse. I had just quit my job as a head cook at an Italian restaurant of 3 years and was roofing for a few months to make ends meet while I figured things out. When Onell called me and told me he was leaving Exalt and felt I was the man that could fill his shoes at the warehouse he offered me to take his place and I couldn’t turn it down. He trained me for 2 weeks and ever since then I’ve been with Exalt.
Splat Life: So now you work for Exalt, play for Damage, what could be better than that? Maybe winning World Cup?
Michael: Winning World Cup in the pro division is definitely at the top of my to do list. I’ve won a lot of tournaments throughout various divisions, and I did win World Cup in 2009 in d5 at my first ever national tournament, but none of that could ever compare to the feeling of winning not only a pro event, but World Cup. Especially since it’s a home tournament for me, I live within 45 minutes of the event site. I was extremely excited last year when we made it to Sunday at my first ever World Cup in the pro division and had a chance to make it to the finals, but we fell short and lost a tough match to Dynasty in the quarters and ended 5th. I’m definitely coming for that trophy this year though.
Splat Life: Through all though highs and lows in life it leads up to this moment to who you are right now. Did believe when you first started you would ever make it this far?
Michael: I’m a firm believer in the cliche saying of you can do anything you put your mind to. Nothing can hold you back except yourself. I never once doubted myself that I couldn’t make it and I pushed myself, and pushed myself and made it happen. And now that it’s finally real and happening, my work ethic and drive towards the game has only grown immensely. Can’t stop, won’t stop
Splat Life: Michael it’s been an awesome having you involved in this interview to share with the next up and coming player. Is there anything you’d like to say to the people who read this and anyone you’d like to thank also?
Michael: I’d just like to say that nothing can stop you from accomplishing your dreams. Set goals and strive to achieve them no matter what they are in life. You only get one shot at life, so put others opinions to the side and make sure you enjoy your life the way you want to. No one else can tell you how to do it. I’d like to say a huge thank you to all the fans of myself and Tampa Bay Damage and hope you all continue to support us as we rebuild and put things together. And a huge thank you to our sponsors, Virtue, BunkerKings, Macdev, and Wicked Sports for making sure we’ve got everything we need to continue to do what we love. If it wasn’t for them and our owner CJ Botsolas, my dream would of never come true.