The old veterans within the team have been playing together since 2000. It began as just a couple of friends running the woods with their Tippmann 98s, Phantoms, Talons, Titans, and Cockers, on various weekends throughout the year. Farm land and wooded ravines were our areas of choice. We were lucky enough to have a few friends who lived on such places. As the years went by, we began to take paintball a little more serious and traveled to scenarios in Lawrence, KS. From this point, MWB made the jump to Oklahoma DDay in 2004 and we decided it was time to become an official team. There were only five of us who made the initial DDay trip, but stories of airborne drops behind enemy lines, massive beach landings, and 4,000+ players soon drew more of our friends into scenario play. This began our journey as a team.
In 2005, our team size grew to 9 members. We continued our annual trip to DDay and Hoot began his leadership term within the 82nd Airborne at the massive scenario. Up until this point, MWB did not have a Team Captain. We were just friends playing together. Through DDay leadership, Hoot began to assimilate into the role. At this same time, by the generosity of a friend, the Muddy Water Boys were granted permission to play on 5 acres of private woodland on the northern edge of Omaha, which the team took up residence for a number of years. With their own “home field” established, the team really began to grow and our level of play increased exponentially.
In 2006, we added 3 members for a total of 12. Other members on the team also began to take up leadership roles at DDay: Wetch, Tick, etc. The Muddy Water Boys established themselves in the DDay community as a team with high character and good fighting spirit. They became the backbone of Dog Company and were highly regarded across the fields of play. It was in 2006 that the team made its first venture into tournament play and joined the SPPL (Scenario Paintball Players League). MWB took second at the Midwest Qualifier (losing to California Gridlock), and made the trip to the SPPL National Championship. After several hard fought games, the young team managed to secure 6th in the nation. Not too shabby for a 2 year old team.
In 2007, the roster grew to 17 members. The team continued to hit up local scenario games around the Midwest, and furthered their strong commitment at DDay. Car problems caused the team to arrive late for an SPPL Qualifer. MWB was not allowed to officially compete in the tournament, but were used a filler team. As a relatively poor team financially, this trip was Muddy’s only chance to make it to the SPPL Nationals. With that chance now gone for 2007, the team allowed many rookies and new faces to jump into the SPPL games.
During one of the games, MWB battled against Tom Cole’s BC Army and we were annihilated. This game was both frustrating and also an eye opening for the Boys. The skill, communication and team work demonstrated by BC Army was on a whole other level. While the loss was deflating, the lessons learned from it are what the team would use to spring forward in years to come.
In 2008, we grew to 19 members. However, the amount of members that could be considered active were less than a handful. Games were still being hosted at our field, but hardly any members were attending. We still made our DDay trip, and our reputation across the country was still very positive. At home though, team participation had hit an all time low and the team was on the brink of collapsing. This is usual for most paintball teams; the group runs its course for several years and then dissipates. What set the Muddy Water Boys apart from most teams though was our foundation. We were built on friendship, paintball was just an extension of that friendship. What we had accomplished over the past years, the memories we had stored and the brotherhood we had created were too good to let die. Over the course of the winter, we revamped the leadership structure, instituted the Council, and began promoting the team. Turkeyball, hosted the weekend after Thanksgiving and which was traditionally a great time for us to get together and play since guys were back in town for the holiday, became a huge promotional tool for us. We started inviting friends outside of the team and word spread to those we didn’t even know. People looking for a place to play before winter hit, found their way to our Outlaw field in late November.
In 2009, Muddy’s roster grew to 34 members. We hit the local woodsball scene with intensity once again, attending various local scenarios and events. With team passion now reaching all time highs, the boys decided it was time to re-enter Woodsball Competition. A new league had been created in 2009 and its owner/promoter was none other than Tom Cole. The man whose team made MWB look like a pack of newbies years before, now offered a league which tailored to Muddy’s style of play with mechanical marker restrictions and stealth oriented tactics.
Muddy entered the UWL and won its divisions at the Oklahoma Regional, defeating the Bob Long Assassin’s in the process, a squad which had never been defeated in UWL play. This victory cemented the realization that the Muddy Water Boys were back, both to themselves and the national woodsball community. Hoot continued his leadership at DDay as a Colonel within the 82nd. An added bonus on the year were various team leaders that reached out to MWB. These captains, ranging from California to the midwest, were inquiring about assistance in building paintball teams from the ground up. Being able to help in the development of young teams was a particular joy for Muddy.
In 2010, MWB began the year with a mission to win the UWL National Championship in the Skills Division (mechanical division). Muddy hosted a UWL Mock Tournament in the early spring, at their Outlaw field, and invited various local teams to attend. The event was a huge success. MWB won the tournament and the steep competition prepared the boys for the coming trials of UWL play in 2010. The team traveled the country in this pursuit of the Woodsball Crown, taking 1st place in Texas and Oklahoma, defeating teams such as Desert Edge, Blacklight Company, Cobra, Texas Roughnecks, Rita’s Aftermath and Addicted along the way. In September, the crew headed to SC Village in Chino, California for the UWL Finals. Muddy made it to the Championship Game but fell short to team GAT and ended the tournament year finishing 2nd in the country.
In 2011, interest within the team for woodsball tournaments continued to expand and there was almost a shift away from scenario play. For the first time MWB fielded TWO 10 man teams. 20+ Muddy Water Boys were competing in the UWL. The Skills Division, the all mechanical bracket, was disbanded at the start of the year. As a result, our veteran group entered the 10 man Open division and those new to tournament play entered 10 man Tactical. Practices were great with two full teams engaging on a regular basis, and there was a lot of individual growth among the players because of it. However, things did not go as planned once the tournament hit. Perhaps we entered 2011 with too much cockiness. We had good success in the past, we had beaten Open teams before, so our expectations were sky high. For whatever reasons, the Open team lost every single game at the Nebraska regional. MWB was systematically taken apart by local Pro team: Omaha Vicious. The UWL finally came to our home state, and we face planted big time. The Tactical lineup didn’t do much better, but they were able to secure a close win in their final game. We were devastated. We tried to stay positive about it, remind ourselves we are playing to have fun, but the absolute lack of success really hurt us.
After 7 years of participating in Oklahoma DDay, 2011 was the year we stopped attending. The UWL had left, going to Nebraska instead, and we were burnt out. The heat, rain, and repetition of it had worn on us. 2011 also saw the departure of Hoot as team captain. He too was worn out. Trek led a small expeditionary group up to the Living Legends scenario in Chicago at CPX Sports. This would lead to more trips in the years to come. All in all, the year started with great promise, but ended on a hard note.
In 2012, there were several new changes the team implemented. The first was a Co-Captain system. It was decided that two Council members would rotate every couple years as Captains. That way all of the leadership gained experience in that role, and hopefully the work load would be distributed more effectively. Alpha and Dark were the first Co-Captains of Muddy. Dark was there for us when the bottom dropped out in 2008. He stepped up big time back then, and he did again in 2012. The second involved our home. Our beloved Outlaw field was being sold. As a result, we began to scout out public fields nearby. To us, one field stood above all the rest: Mad Cow Paintball. We negotiated a deal with the owners, Bill and Teri Metzger, and picked up our 2nd major sponsorship. Ever since, we have called Mad Cow our home. They have been wonderful to us. More of the guys went up to Living Legends as well. It was becoming our new scenario spot.
Alpha still had great passion for woodsball competition, and he grabbed the tournie team by the bootstraps and pulled us up. He implemented a large number of practices at Mad Cow, far more than we had ever participated in throughout a year. With some fresh leadership, we pooled all of our focus into one 10 man Tactical team. Realizing our strengths and weaknesses, we dropped down a bracket. In Nebraska, we went 1-3, but the games were much closer. We took that little bit of momentum with us to the Pennsylvania regional and took first! The sweet feeling of victory was again upon us. We loved the Penn field and Alpha’s family was very accommodating to our team at their home. We ended the season at the Chicago Nationals, destroying our first opponent, then going down in flames the final 3. We crashed hard too. Feelings were hurt, things were said, this was not our shining moment as a team. Some guys left that event never wanting to play tournament ball again. Pennsylvania was a wonderful time for us and the high point of the season, but things ended rough in Chicago.
In 2013, we all knew we needed a break. No tournaments. Just fun. We have never recruited players based on skill, we look for good, honest people. Down to earth. Winning is not our primary focus as a team. And yet, without it, after having tasted it, it really put a downer on things. That’s not who we are, at least, that’s not who we started out as, and it’s not who we want to be. There is so much more to this game than winning, even in tournaments. So 2013 was a year to re-focus. We played a lot of rec ball at Mad Cow. Mixing it up with new players and supporting local scenarios. This time, we went up to Living Legends in force. 20+ Muddy and friends made the trip. It was great getting so many of the group together again. We still had around 35 guys on the roster, but it takes trips like Living Legends to rally the troops. Lots of laughs and memories. Good eating too. Dirty and Uncle Nasty know how to cook. Turkeyball was also a good time for us. We had around 100 people attend. A big difference from the old days with just 10 of us. Uncle Nasty made his legendary turkey costume, and wore it. This was a bright year for us.
In 2014, we felt re-energized in some ways. We still had competition in our blood, but it was tempered a bit. Subdued and focused properly in our minds. The leadership desired to re-enter the UWL, while trying to maintain the relaxed fun we had in the previous year. A difficult task when trying to compete on a national level. But as the season progressed, we did just that. Perhaps “gun-shy”, “snake bit”, whatever the reason, very few MWB wanted to try tournaments again. As a result, the boys dropped down to 5 man, but up to the Open division. We felt our core vets were strong enough to compete at the higher level, and we were right. We went 5-1-1 at the Nebraska regional, and snagging 1st place in the process! Quite the welcome back for us. On top of that, we had never won at home. We’ve won in OK, TX, PA, but never in our home state, in the good ole’ Nebraska woods. So this was special to us. On top of that, we had a blast. No negativity. Winning helps cure that, but it was more than that. That was proven at Nationals. We went 2-2, made it to the Championship game once again, but fell short again. And we were okay with that.
I suppose the Pros will tell you that you can’t be. Never be satisfied until you’re the champ. And there is some great motivational wisdom in that. But that road, that process, chews up friendships. Its result driven. To us, it’s more important to play this game we love with our friends. Would being National Champs be great? Hecks yeah! But we’re okay with 2nd. Shoot, as long as we get a few wins sprinkled in here or there, to show it’s not all in vain, well that’d be all right. One thing is certain, we had a lot of fun this year. It was just a joy being able to take the field with each other, and spend time together off. Meanwhile, Trek was moving up the ranks at Living Legends, commanding his own Legion with 200+ men, and representing us well.
In 2015, our numbers dropped a little to 29 men. But the guys had a great time returning to Oklahoma DDay! After 5 years away, MWB re-visited the old stomping grounds. Hoot was given command of Dog Company in the 82nd, with Trek at his side as XO. Twenty of us rented a 30’x40′ circus tent for shade and Dirt and Bagel brought the smoker and served up some pulled pork, beans, coleslaw, etc. There was good food and good friends hanging together all week and slinging some paint. In the UWL we dropped to 5 man Tactical. We did well the previous year in Open, but agreed our best chance to win that National title was starting back at Step 1. Our Tactical crew went 3-1 and took 1st at the Oklahoma event. We then ventured to Chicago for Nationals. With a few old Muddy vets rejoining us on the tournament scene, we had a tremendous time in Chi-town. And what do you know…we came home as National Champs. Finally.
The boys went 5-1 in the tournament and won the UWL Masters for 5 man Tac! We collectively outscored our opponents 143 to 30 points, and played some of our best ball yet. Every game we were in sync and strong. Even after our first loss, the boys stayed positive and were confident we could win the rest. They were right. Teams from all over the country came to battle it out. National teams from Central and South America also sent their best. Along the way MWB knocked out Florida, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Oregon, Alabama and Mexico. It was a great year for a lot of reasons. On to 2016…