Photo credit to Verbhal Photo @verbhal
AC Dallas has been a top program in professional paintball since its Pro debut in 2015.
They’ve had 7 NXL podiums and countless top 10 finishes. Over the years we have seen a lot of talent come up through the program, yet end up on other teams.
After the short 2020 season, the team disbanded entirely. The Jackson brothers, who were arguably the glue that held the squad together on a player level parted ways to Impact and the Ironmen, Ryan Hall to LA Infamous, and TJ Danner to X-Factor.
This caused some shock in the pro paintball world. How could such a dominant team, with so many top finishes be left without a single player? What did the future hold for the AC Dallas franchise?
During the off season, we got our answer. A group of young players who were dominant in the divisional level for years stepped up to the plate. Augmented with this new blood, Coach Greg Pauley has begun the process of rebuilding the team from the ground up. For those of you unfamiliar, the new AC Dallas players previously played for Paintball FIT (the team). For the last few seasons these same players trained together at the same Paintball FIT facility that the AC Dallas and AC Diesel pro teams call home.
Here is a snapshot of their divisional record in 2019:
2 Series wins
4 NXL Wins
161-40 Points Record
36-2 Record for Matches
24 Mercy Rule Wins
19-1 Prelim Record
17-1 Sunday Record
As you can see from the above, these guys can play paintball. They have demonstrated to the world that they are a group of young hungry lions, and they want to make a name for themselves in the pro division. Where have we seen this before? A few places actually — San Diego Dynasty, Omaha Vicious, Docs Raiders, the New England Hurricanes, etc.
A point that we find especially unique is that this is the same group of guys who have been playing together. No one jumped ship, they stayed together, they won together, and they went Pro together. In a day and age of everyone thinking of themselves first, and the team second, their collective history speaks volumes.
The new AC Dallas squad is living every divisional player’s paintball dream. Come up in the ranks with your friends and ultimately compete at the highest level together.
Today we have the opportunity to sit down with Johnny and Colt Luckau to talk about the rebuild, and how it all happened.
Guys, thank you for sitting down with me and taking the time, we are glad to have this discussion.
- I think we all want to know how this all went down? When the original AC roster broke up and the rebuild was imminent, how did yall get the opportunity to step up to the plate? Tell us the story.
Our plan for this year was to apply ourselves more to playing and getting better as a team so we could put our stamp on the D2 division. Then we would do the same in Semi-pro until we won the pro spot together. A few weeks after World Cup, Greg approached us at Paintball FIT and explained the situation AC Dallas was in and offered us the challenge of stepping up to the plate right now free of charge. We told Greg we would sit down as a family and discuss it. At first we were hesitant to accept it as we were in love with the idea of winning it. However, bumping up now helps both sides and saves some time. We have always had the support of Greg/AC and for him to grant us the opportunity to play under AC Dallas and keep the pro spot at FIT means a lot to us.
Photo Credit to Nick Sonsini @sonsinimeda
- Tell us a little bit about the rebuild process. Are you looking for additional pro talent to add to the roster? Maybe a solid veteran or two who have the pro level experience to be a guiding hand?
No we aren’t really looking for any existing pro talent or veterans. We aren’t against adding players like that, we just believe in our core and giving everyone the maximum amount of reps and experience to learn and grow from.
- What were some of the key takeaways from your first Pro NXL event in Florida? How did the speed of the game compare to the divisional level? Did anything stand out as a “oh man” this is a totally different playing field?
Pro teams have better fundamentals across the board and good instincts/situational processing.There is much less room for error. When you have opportunities you have to take them immediately and make your shots count. Most of the pro players don’t make the same mistake twice and adapt to patterns quicker.
- How does it feel to take this journey with your friends and family? It’s very rare that you get to see the same group of guys climb this high together.
There honestly is nothing better.
The four of us brothers (Colt, Brody, Trenton, Johnny) have all done a lot together and overcome challenges as a family. From running the field, playing paintball and starting a metal manufacturing business to have money to play. Jonathan Chavez is also right there with us and is basically our brother from another mother. We all do everything together.All five of us work together every day on the metal business, are roommates and practice on the weekends. Chavez, Logan Dyer, Michael Diaz, Danny Morales and us brothers have all played together not only on FIT but countless local USXBL events both together and against each other. We have all overcome obstacles together on and off the field, so to be able to have this opportunity to play pro and challenge each other to be better and grow together in order to have success is exciting to say the least.
Photo Credit: Colt Luckau
- With two major events now in the books, what is the squad focusing on ahead of the next event?
The biggest thing is progression over everything. We have to keep a Hydra mindset throughout the practices and the event itself by forcing ourselves out of our comfort zones, trying new concepts, attacking more and making mistakes. Just how a Hydra gets stronger every time one of its heads gets cut off and grows back two, every mistake we make while attacking gives ourselves an opportunity to learn how to do it better. We know in order to win events at the pro level we can’t just rely on our textbook play, we need to add more dynamic layers.
- How involved is Coach Pauley in the development of the AC Dallas roster?
Greg has been really awesome over the years being able to watch all of us from a birds eye view and give us valuable nuggets of knowledge as we need them. I’m pretty sure he has watched almost every event we have all played from USXBL to NXL outside of Scott Stewart because he was in Colorado until recently. Event layout weekends is where we learn the most from him. He is very good with layout specific situations. He is especially involved with snake end game. As a whole, it is a combined effort for all of us to brainstorm and learn/practice the layout.
- Anything yall would like to touch on, clear the air on, talk about etc.
Our Dad didn’t buy us a field.
We started and built this together from the ground up as equals and a Family Integrated Team or FIT.
It’s a common misconception but I get it. We are blessed with the best parents in the world, Sarah and JD Luckau, and we wouldn’t be here without them. To simply say our dad JD just bought the field, undermines not only his blood sweat and tears put into this place but our awesome mother as well. Every ounce of manual labor put into this place has been done by all of us and close paintball friends within the community. Each family member has played an integral part in making sure things run smoothly not only for practice weekends, but events and marketing/branding as well. We collectively built and continue to build/own a field together, not purchased one. We don’t come from money but have amazing family, friends and work ethic to drive us to be successful.
Uncle Scott Belshner
We had success in divisional’s and had no intention on skipping any divisions on the way up. Playing pro was just an opportunity that came to us, we did not pay for it nor ask. Just accepted the challenge.
Photo Credit JD Luckau
Last but not least, a shout out to AC: Dallas team sponsors: