We recently broke a story that was arguably the biggest move of the 2022 Professional Paintball preseason, with the Latin Saints signing of Alex Rodriguez. Alex joins a Latin Saints program that has been rapidly building and refining their roster as they prepare for their 2022 rookie campaign in the pro division as the NXL's newest franchise.
Alex has always been one of the hardest working professional players in the league, and his level of preparation is evident in his play. Often tasked with playing the highly demanding center of the field, Alex has found great success over his 11 years in the pro division with dozens of wins and multiple World Championships during that time. We sat down with "ARod" to discuss his move to the Latin Saints after playing last season with Edmonton Impact, and his thoughts on the 2022 season.
His approach to the upcoming year as both a leader and teacher of the young Latin Saints roster is a bit of a new role for Alex, but with his undeniable talent as one of the best paintball players in the World, he should help boost the Latin Saints into contention in 2022 and beyond.
Q: What role do you see yourself playing on the Latin Saints this season?
Alex: "I feel my role will be very similar to the role that I played on the Ironmen in 2020. Being that this will be my 11th season playing professionally, I feel that the amount of organizations, different coaches and players I’ve gotten to be around has really helped hone my knowledge for the game. I feel it’s something that can be advantageous to share with a team that is open to develop an identity and hungry to win. You can’t teach drive, but you can help steer someone who’s driven. It’s a very unique and special opportunity to have a roster, coach and owner that is on the same page. I’m excited to be a part of the journey."
Q) The Saints are currently building a solid roster for their rookie campaign; do you see yourself as taking on a bit of a leadership role in teaching the younger pros how to win?
Alex: "I feel it’s my role to assist Brandon and Diego to steer the ship and bring the vision to life. The biggest thing to understand before you learn how to win is dealing with hardships and setbacks that may occur. I feel that I’ll be able to provide valuable insight as situations occur to help move the process along smoothly and get these players in Championship form. It’s all a process and things work within their own unique timing."
Q) You have played alongside the Saints new head coach, Brandon Short, and won World Titles with him. Will that past chemistry help expedite the process in finding success for you and the Saints this year?
Alex: "I’ve always respected Brandon as a player, but until recently I didn’t realize how developed his mind was for the game and how passionate he is going into this. You can tell a lot about a player's IQ by the decisions they make on the field, but it’s a much different ball game to be able to communicate it to other people and different types of personalities."
Brandon knows how to speak to people and articulate a point very well. He’s also hyper creative and open minded which will lead to some great possibilities and options moving forward. I think he is going to thrive as a head coach and really evolve into this new role. It’s going to be exciting to watch and be apart of."
Q) The Saints owner, Diego, has mentioned he wants to see all pro paintball players be paid well and build a career in this sport, I think he is showing that. Do you feel paintball is moving in a direction that will see the pro athletes become true “professionals” in the sense that all pro players make an income from this sport?
Alex: "I think it’s amazing what Diego is looking to provide for his players monetarily. For me, it helps justify taking the game more seriously because I can invest my time into improving my craft because someone is investing in me. I’m 30 years old now and I have to pay real bills and set up for my future. Bart, Randy, and now Diego are definitely steps in the right direction as far as the “professional” aspect is concerned.
As far as paintball in general, I feel that we are still behind the curve. Until the day comes where the teams are a part of an entity that’s similar to the NFL, NBA etc. We will still continue to be a hobbyist sport with certain outlier individuals that are able to make 40k + salaries.
That requires money and viewership which we don’t have. I have ideas, but no real concrete plan on how to achieve that. Fortunately we have some amazing minds in this sport that are starting to come of age that they can make a difference collectively. I feel if we stay the course, we could be headed towards a new renaissance period for paintball. But it’s gonna take change and the right group or individual to lead the charge."
Q) What would you say to the, in my opinion; unfair and uninformed, criticism some have given you over moving between teams?
Alex: "I am a private person as well, so I don’t give people much to work with except for the actions I make and the light that I’m painted in by others. For better or for worse. At the end of the day, it’s not my job or responsibility to try and win over people that don’t have a true care for my well being. People align in your life and you end up figuring out who you should be sharing your life with."