10 Questions for James Creek, Virtue Sponsorship Director
James Creek not only plays professionally for Seattle Uprising, but he's the new sponsorship director for Virtue, taking over duties from coach Aaron Ormrod. You'll see James training every weekend at the local field KC Crusaders Paintball in Washington, and at NXL events, usually playing snake side for Uprising then running the Virtue flagship store when he's not on the field.
Of course, James now has one of the coolest jobs in the paintball industry -- being the man who gets to work directly with teams all around the world and help them use top products like Virtue Spires, VIOs, Breakout pads, pants, and packs, and Virtue custom jerseys.
What was it like the first time you stepped onto the pro field. Break it down for us what happened?
James: With anything new, there is a build up of nerves and emotions. In my situation emotions were high with the passing of my mother. I had the chance to tell her I made it Pro but she passed before my first event. Once I stepped on that field for my first point as a professional, I knew she was watching and all of the nerves washed away, and I did what I do best. To this day when I step out there, I pray and I do my best for her.
How about your first game in tournament paintball as a divisional player.
James: The level of excitement was almost too hard to contain. Time almost slowed down as I walked to the box for my first point. Once that horn went off it started the addiction to paintball I will never forget.
What are the most important things a team should look for in a sponsor?
James: Support, and reliability. Having sponsors that are there for you every event is huge, and can make a huge difference in how your team competes. The best gear in the game can fail, so to have your sponsor right there or available for spares, etc. to keep your team focused on the game and not worried about their gear is a huge component to the success of the team.
What are you looking for in a sponsored team? Do they have to play certain events?
James: I look for teams eager to excel, be it in the woods or on turf. Paintball teams are the most diverse compared to any other team sport. I am here to support them all. Scenario players and classic mechanical woods events players are just as important to promoting Virtue as Xball style play.
Tell us about the 2021 NXL Contingency program.
James: Earn rewards from your sponsor each event, to compete in NXL tournaments, how could you turn that down? Any teams that use our gear head to toe are eligible to earn money to support their team through the season. We're giving away a total of up to $55,000 in prizes throughout the year to the top teams using Virtue in the NXL. Just to be clear, it's the top Virtue teams that get the prizes (product value), not the top teams overall. So your team could place 7th or 20th and still get free gear depending on where the other Virtue teams place. It definitely pays to use Virtue and play in the NXL. Here's the link to the program and prizes.
How does the Virtue sponsorship program work?
James: It starts by submitting an application, then based on the division and level of gear you intend to use, will determine the level of sponsorship offered to your team.
From there, we set each player up with their own account so they can place orders any time they want to at their sponsored team pricing. As a bonus, each player will get reward points on their purchases, that be be used to get even better deals on the next order.
Once a team does get sponsored, what should they do?
James: Play as much paintball as possible. Support us on social media. Roster that new player sitting alone waiting for their chance to play. We must all work together at our local fields to grow the sport.
Now, what we need in return for discounted team pricing is your promotional support. Review our products on the website with your honest opinion. We don't need hype. Virtue is the real deal and our customers appreciate the truth. Post photos of you using Virtue gear online, and absolutely make sure your team takes a team photo in your gear EVERY time you guys get together to play, both practices and tournaments.
First of all, you're a team - show it off with pride. Second, you'll be happy for all the memories years later. And of course, it not only helps promote your sponsors, but promotes paintball in general.
Finally, play fair and be approachable to other players. Represent the brand and Virtue products well. Don't hype up your own deals but refer the players to the local store where they can buy Virtue.
What about local fields and stores. How does this help them?
James: When we support you, we support your fields and stores also. We continue to support local paintball and urge you to do the same. If your team goes all-in with Virtue products we'll actually give your field and store free goggles as well. That's a real sponsorship that helps out paintball in your local area.
The whole point of our sponsorship program is to support the players who are dedicating so much of their life to the game and help drive awareness and sales for Virtue at every level. This starts with local fields and stores. We've tracked the results and have years of data that proves when more teams use our gear, paintball stores all around the world are more successful.
Does a team need to have matching gear? Custom jerseys?
James: Matching gear is a huge component in team sports. Nothing worse than shooting your teammate cause he looked like your opponent. I've always been behind the statement “If you look good, you play good.” We have an awesome custom team program here. It's not really any different in price to buy your whole team off-the-shelf jerseys as it is to get a custom one designed by Virtue. Our pricing on custom jerseys is one of the best kept secrets in paintball.
Bonus, 11th question - if you just got elected as the NXL Commissioner and could make any changes you want to tournament paintball -- what would you do?
James: I would Separate the Pro events from the Divisional Tournaments. A few Professional matches every weekend for everyone to follow their favorite teams leading up to the Paintball “Superbowl”. This would motivate local fields to build their own Pro teams, with the proper Stadiums, spectating, food vendors, the works. NFL stadiums are their own entity. They run the ticket sales, media equipment, food and merchandise sales, to support their Pro team. To push our sport to the level of any other sport we need more Professional matches every weekend, not just all the matches every few months. Dividing the current Pro teams based on their location and even adding more into the mix would be my goal as the Commissioner.
Awesome answers. Thanks for your time. If you've got any more questions for James, reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram at jamescreek85