Here it is, Part Two of an in depth look at ATrain and Track21, what makes him tick? The Catshack puts to bed a number of misconceptions about ATrain, what he represents and who he is…. read on to get the low down
Tomcat: What do you want people to take from Track 21?
A-Train: I hope that they see a lot of the things we do. My team and I, my personal sphere of paintball friends. Some of the super cool small companies and great products and services, some of the stores and fields off-the-beaten-path, We do a lot for charities, for advocacy, for the positive promotion of this sport, for the growth of paintball, and for taking a vested role in OUR part to do that, in our unique way. Even if you don’t agree with it, I’d invite all to pay attention so you can get a different perspective. Paintball is fun, I hope we remind people of that. Oh, and the opportunities for advocacy, too! Especially with Team Defiant, Actiontrack Chair and Impact a Hero, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Erin’s Army the Wounded Warrior Project and so many more. I would probably make people angry for not mentioning them if you actually print this. I mean, we get to show those off. We are not here trying to sell t-shirts and headbands. It’s not us. [laugh]
Tomcat: TShirts are a hard sell I tried that once it didn’t work out so well.
A-Train: Well, we would rather give away the point that paintball is fun, no matter how much others may complain, we’re doing our thing. Laugh a little don’t take life so seriously. That’s just good for the rest of the world.
Tomcat: What do you say to the people that do have a clue of what it takes, and yet it seems that their only purpose or their only reason to discuss anything publicly about paintball is to disrespect all these brand names or all the people who are involved in some way shape or form?. I am referring to those that seem to target on a bigger scale, not just your average paintball player disrespecting brand names.
Tomcat: What are you going to do to those guys?
A-Train: Why is it my job to do something to them?! [laugh] Now there are those that have blogs that have been there since the late 80’s and early 90’s There are some of those that have had forums or websites and brands before I was in the media end of things, for sure. That’s part of paintball history and sometimes there are good points and opinions. Learn from the elders of the tribe, right? Times have changed, the game has changed and I feel there is a different culture. The culture is now an instant gratification feel. Get with it or get with some like minded individuals. Fields are fighting for players, the sport is fighting for players. Anything that distracts from the positive promotion of this sport, the protection of the intellectual properties and ideas of others within the sport and at least a ‘tip of the hat’, whether you agree or not, to the history and safety of this sport as well as the un-written rules of this sport. I will not co-sign it, I don’t endorse it. I think what we are doing is part of the solution and not the problem or at least a piece of it.
Tomcat: And to those that have a disdain for the “New Media” ?
A-Train: It would depend on the person or group. I know some better than others, some I have just met and am getting to know but my door is open. If you’re going to say something negative about me personally or someone in the “new media” or even “old media” I’ll always ask, “did you talk to them directly? Do you know what drives the person you are talking about?” the answer is most commonly NO. Anyone that uses someone else’s name out of context or without consent, or not knowing who they are is just a jackass in my book. But there’s a part of us that says “Thank you” to them because they drive a good deal of traffic our way and get people interacting. Chances are if they say stuff about me and my friends, they just haven’t met us. Long-running media sources are part of the history of paintball and Lord knows I get my news feeds with my morning coffee, but I participate in the present and am looking into the future. You only have so many minutes in a day to watch paintball videos or browse, forums, blogs or websites, manufacturers and fields are fighting for that time, too. They want as many people to see their products and services. I will not be hindering them, or facilitating others to. I just don’t subscribe to “hate” or co-sign bulls***. And I get some of the disdain as you say because some of the “new media” is portraying an image of themselves that doesn’t reflect the truth. But that’s a small slice of it, I’m sure.
A-Train: It’s interesting, for as much as I go on the websites and forums <and if you’ve banned me and are reading this. Hello! I’m still on your forums!> it is so sophomoric, I have been ‘banned’ just for things someone else has said about me. This is funny so I just change my user name and I am back on there. I have never realized how many un-truths there are about me and my friends and my retired mother until we got on a few internet sites. [laughter]
Tomcat: Okay, so let’s address the misconceptions and misinformation. What misinformation should we set straight here?
A-Train: Um…I don’t work as an employee for Crossfire. There’s one. I am a sponsored player and so is my team. We really like their products and the company, as well. Great people manufacturing great products in America! They’ve been really good to us and to the sport and having seen and being able to test things using some tools not readily available to the masses, I choose to power all my shots with Crossfire…. I am not an employee. Crossfire is most often supportive of a lot of the advocacy we do, especially the military advocacy and the growth of girls in paintball. I also consider them a company that gets excited and gets others pumped about paintball. My brother or family doesn’t own it either. The team at Crossfire have become good friends over the many years together. My brother is a mental-health professional and an avid paintballer. Please do not go telling him he owns a compressed gas bottle manufacturer.[laugh] But I’m younger, faster, taller, more handsome and I can outplay him. [laugh] There goes the holidays.
Tomcat: Someone said that? What other misinformation have we heard about A-Train? You’re not a Nazi?
A-Train: Correct. I am proudly an American and a socially tolerant Protestant christian.
Tomcat: American, not a white supremacist?
A-Train: No no, nor are my teammates and friends. I can’t believe you asked that, Tom. That is so 6 years ago. One of the great things I love about paintball is people from all walks of life, social, economic, religious, cultural and many different backgrounds. We have a common bond that we share at less than 300fps and .68 caliber. And we all agree on it and it is wonderful! Embrace the commonalities not the differences. That one is so five years ago Tom. I can’t believe you asked me that. I have heard that I am under the age of 30 though. [laugh]
Tomcat: Get out of here really??
A-Train: I am 37! Amazing what a hat, sunglasses and some earrings will get you. [laugh] A lot of people think that I am a speedballer, I play speedball, I play scenario, and I play recreational paintball.
A-Train: Yes, paintball, I mean when I could play pump. I play pump, you know somebody invited me to play mag fed.
Tomcat: I just don’t think that would be my thing
A-Train: …and it’s not my thing but I am going to go and try it. I am going to go and try it with some really good mag fed players and I will make my mistakes and will be fumbling with clips I’m sure and will be yelling constantly “where is my ammo?” It will be fun. I want the experience. I have an opportunity to play with some of the most notorious mag feeders around and I am taking it. The condition was that we trade markers and they get to play with my Pinokio and my “paint sprayer”. I’m sure we will all get a laugh out of it. Or at least me.
Tomcat: That should be fun.
A-Train: Another big misconception is that I dislike Canadians.
Tomcat: Oh, [laugh] Okay. Meanwhile, you have a fella that does some of your camera work.
A-Train: I have many people that help. And I have no employees in paintball just great friends.[laugh]
Tomcat: That runs with you, too. On the field.
A-Train: One of my very best friends is Chris Hazard, The Canadian Honey Badger. He’s a trip We went back and forth all weekend at EMR against each other once. It was brutal. He’s the steadiest shot I’ve ever seen and class-act. Some of the shots he makes in play are crazy. “Cyclopsed” me with one ball – three separate times and he called it! I think he has it on his marker cam somewhere online. [laugh] Only guy I’ve seen call his shots. Pretty bad ass! [laugh]
Tomcat: Yeah, I get to go and chill out with him in about a half an hour.
A-Train: Yes! And if you needed help, you could just ask. Right?
Tomcat: He is a great guy, that is for sure.
A-Train: It is fun for us to watch everyone else get very upset. You know? We have so much fun. If you actually looked one of my very best friends that I have made through paintball is very proudly Canadian and we joke with each other we have a laugh. Another misconception that is very hilarious to me. I have even been called out publically at an event, “I don’t want pictures with you” and “I don’t like what you say about Canadians” We talked liked adults and agreed to disagree and by the end of the event this person had flipped their opinion because they actually watched and listened. [laugh]. We say ‘hello’ and help each other out now. Life is too short.
Tomcat: Would you say that you are just an average guy and average American paintballer?
A-Train: Maybe a little more “awesome”[laugh] No, the real facts are that I am a single Dad and have been a single Dad for eleven years. I own a business. I am civically active. I contribute to my community civically, I am a part of my community here. I am actually one of the most viable candidates for city commission in the next election cycle. I mean there are a lot of things. I play 14 musical instruments, I am educated, I love to go backpacking and outdoors. My son and I get out and we try to put more into this world than we take out. In all essence of those people that say “I hate that guy”.. they would probably let me date their sister. But who cares? Ask anyone you’ll find out something interesting about people if you take the time to get to know them.
Tomcat: What is your education?
A-Train: Uh, secondary education I wanted to be a high school music teacher with a minor in music. I’m not going to tell you what or from where though.
A-Train: There is a point where I ask people to respect my personal life. Tom, I am normal. I laugh. I joke. I don’t lose my cool about things. I try to inspire others and I try to inspire good stewardship and patriotism and fellowship.
Tomcat: As part of my interview with Bob (Gurnsey), we addressed “haters” and his response was… he likes to politely antagonize them cause in so doing they will respond, they will get angry and it in turn shows the real them.
A-Train: Correct. Oscar Wilde said “Sometimes people actions will speak so loudly that it matters not what they say” I don’t care who you think you are… I’ll just pay attention and you’ll show us who you are.
Tomcat: In cases some of these same people don’t even play paintball.
A- Train: Well, and that is the thing you will be measured by ultimately. The world is paying attention. I play paintball you will find me in front or behind the camera or recording the event. But I play paintball. I am a paintballer and anyone that would like to ever question that you can meet me at the ’50. I have no problem with that nor do my friends. Do not threaten me with a good time or a gun fight. About the “haters” and the drama that surrounds things. I have my opinion. I do not pick sides because that would mean I would draw a line. And if I draw a line, I make it clear and things get real. [laugh]
Tomcat: My personal opinion if you care to hear it.
A-Train: Yeah. Absolutely.
Tomcat: They capitalize on the drama. My media is founded on principles, I have often been asked. “Tomcat. How come you don’t publish the negatives about paintball?” My thought on it is: there is enough of that out there already and why would you do that to potentially ruin someone’s business? Yes it might have been a bad event this time, lets give them a chance to improve it for next time as one example of what I mean.
A-Train: Of course, and if you talked about the negatives…what would the ranter’s have to discuss [laugh] I may try ranting once. [laugh]
Tomcat: They go to the “Asshat Folder”?
A-Train: [laugh] It is on standby, yeah. There is another misconception! That the “Asshat Award” is completely me. The misconception that the decider of who goes into ‘paintballs biggest jerk of the moment’ is me. It’s actually a lot of people that wanted to get involved with that because of how effective it is, so it is very private it is like the Illuminati, [laugh] If you actually knew who was in there you would be amazed! Manufacturers, media types, and more. You would be very surprised if you knew who was supportive to the point of silent participation, and that we collectively try everything we can to never have it awarded.
Tomcat: So it’s used as a “last resort” to change behavior then? Another misconception, maybe?
A-Train: Right! [laugh] If I never had to put it out again, I would be content. But I make no promises. I just do it to protect the identities of the rest of those involved and I ain’t squealing on them either so don’t ask. [laugh]
Be sure to tune in tomorrow for the last and final segment of our interview with ATrain and Track21
Photos courtesy of ATrain and Track21 and The Catshack Reports