June 26, 2017

Bye Week Team Building | Splatters Paintball

Jamaal Westerman recreated the scene in vivid detail, reliving the moment when Ian Wild, his Winnipeg Blue Bombers teammate, was unmercifully covered in paint.

The Bombers had made their annual pilgrimage to Splatters Paintball in New Bothwell last week when Westerman and Wild found themselves together, trying to hold their position.

“He and I were in the helicopter picking off guys here and there,” began the Bombers’ defensive end, a giant grin dominating his face. “Ian got shot once and he put his hands up with ‘All right… mercy, you got me’ and they were firing on him. He got smoked. He got annihilated. Bad.

“It was just like in a movie… he went to put out his gun and he got hit in the hand and it was like ‘noooooo!!’ He got something like 12 straight shots while being pinned down.”


Now officially, the Bombers keep coming back to the 30 acres at Splatters for the team building aspect the afternoon provides. After all, Canadian Football League squads – all organizations, be they pro sports or amateur clubs – have seen the benefit from these types of outings.

There are the classic team building get-togethers – slo-pitch, golf, barbecues, etc. – as well as the stereotypical exercises meant to build trust, such as an employee closing his or her eyes and then falling backward into the arms of colleagues.

There has to be a trust on the football field, of course, but the Bombers find the biggest benefits of visiting Splatters is to just break away from the regular routing of practices, meetings, the weight room, and games.

“It’s great to see the guys’ different personalities outside of football and you can bond with them a lot better other than those times on the field or around here,” said Bombers offensive lineman Travis Bond.

“When someone gets hit with a paintball, you can see their reactions and really see them as a person. Plus, you get to act like a child every once in a while. It’s fun.

“I only got hit twice, so it wasn’t too bad. Most times I get lit up. I’m a big target, you know?”

The Bombers split up into offence vs. defence for a series of battles, with Westerman reporting his side emerging victorious in three of the four contests.

The club visited New Bothwell once last year, but also went to Grand Beach, camped at Bird’s Hill, and – naturally – have frequent get-togethers either as a team or position group that revolve around eating.

“We have a great team,” said receiver Darvin Adams.

“It’s not just about the quality of football players, but the people. We care about each other and so when we are brought together for a team function like that, we’re not doing it just because we were asked, but because it’s fun and we enjoy being in each other’s presence.”

“I loved the paintball. I got a chance to put some paint on a few guys and it was offence vs. defence so it was competitive. It was just so much fun.

“Different characters come out in these situations and the guys that play all the video games like Call of Duty and Halo… it was like they were bringing it to real life out there.”

Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea signed off on the Splatters event and has encouraged his squad to do more of these away-from-the-facility events. He’s been there, done that during a hall-of-fame career and has seen the value from teammates having a few laughs together.

Westerman has seen it too.

“These things are great because it brings the team together in a different atmosphere other than on the field or in the locker room, outside of the day-to-day activities,” he said.

“But it’s also important because we’ve got a lot of guys who are away from home and away from their families. We all become each other’s extended families and this give us something to do instead of sitting in your apartment or at the facility all day.

“These things also allow us to see a bit of Winnipeg. We go to movies together, we go out to eat, we’ve been camping. There’s a lot of different things to do in this city. We’ve done the paintball, we’ve done camping, we went up to Grand Beach last year, about 12 guys and their families.

“Most of the time it’s football, football, football and so this just gives us something different to do,” added Westerman. “It allows you to get out with different guys from the team and learn a bit about some of the guys you might not be around all the time.

“It’s so important to have that chemistry on the field and a lot of that is built by what you do off the field.”