Blue & Gold Team Building

It’s one of those scorching Manitoba summer afternoons when the sun is baking and the wind is but a whisper.

It’s also a rare in-season day off for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the perfect opportunity to rest both their minds and their bodies.

Funny, then, to see most of the team gathered together near New Bothwell, about a 20-minute drive southeast of the city, dripping in sweat while diving for cover behind old school buses and cars and sprinting through 40 acres of field on a converted hog facility.

Welcome to Splatters Paintball and the Blue Bombers’ second trip out here for a team building session.


“It’s just good to get out here and get your mind off football and just have fun with the guys,” began receiver Rory Kohlert.  “It’s good to be focused and that stuff, but it’s also good to get away and get your mind off it a little bit so that when you come back, your mind is fresh and you’re ready to work again.

“You get to shoot each other, too,” added Kohlert with a grin, “and inflict some pain on the defence or whoever you are playing against.

“I play Call of Duty and games like that, but for people who may think it would help you out here, they’re wrong. Once the paint starts flying… it’s just so much fun. It’s hot out here, everyone is sweating, but it’s great.”

The Bombers are hardly the first team to use paintball, and Splatters in particular, for this kind of function. It’s also worth noting that the club’s recent visit pre-dates the current three-game win streak they took into the bye week.

Read into that what you will, but Splatters general manager Evan Schroeder insists it’s not a coincidence. His reservation list, after all, not only includes the Bombers and teams from across various sports, but corporations who see the power in this kind of team building.


“When companies go golfing it’s in groups of fours and so you don’t get to know as many people,” said Schroeder. “Here, you’re mixing with up to 30-40 players on your team and you’re shooting at the other team so you get to know them, too. After the game is when the magic happens when they’re chatting and talking about who shot who and it’s an instant connection that leads back to wherever their workplace may be.

“You can see it in their eyes when they come off the field. They’ve got lots to share with each other. The best reaction from people who play is when they say they are coming back next year or on their own or when the boss comes back with his family.”

Schroeder, a long-time Bomber fan who became a season ticket holder, worked his family’s dairy farm for years before finding paintball as a passion as a teenager.




His parents suggested he run a paintball business on the side to learn how to deal with staff, payroll, etc. before taking over the farm. But Schroeder’s wife suffers from asthma and the idea of taking over a farm just wasn’t going to work.

Instead, they bought this current chunk of land and began building this unique setting that includes, among other things, abandoned vehicles, a makeshift castle, house trailers and a 1967 Sikorsky helicopter.

Wait… what?


“We were looking for an airplane for a long time,” said Schroeder. “And then somebody from Saskatchewan called and asked us if we were interested in a helicopter. I was thinking it was an old traffic helicopter or a four-seater. He sent me a picture and I fell in love with it instantly.

“It’s a great piece.”

The helicopter is part of the bus field that can be used for a particular game. There are also 12 acres of ‘urban field’ and a six-acre ‘castle field’ that will be expanded from three to four levels in September.

And the Bombers got to explore almost every inch of it.

“It’s just such a blast to get out together and do something that isn’t football related,” said linebacker Sam Hurl. “It’s good to get out and see the boys in a different light than when you’re on the football field and in the meeting rooms all day.

“We all have a lot to us outside of football, so it’s good to get to know that about each other and let out some anger on each other.

“I grew up playing those kind of games, but when you’re out here doing it and getting a sweat… it’s a lot more fun.”