The young sport of Professional Paintball is still defining itself and Nicky Cuba is at the front of this daily grind into the unknown, carrying a fast gun and a bright torch, leading the way for the next wave of up and coming paintball players. Born in New York and raised next door to a paintball store, Nicky quickly advanced up the tournament ranks, and by the late 90’s had becoming the marquee player for Ground Zero, one of the best teams to ever come out of the east coast.
Height: 6' 1"
Hometown: West Islip, New York
Pro Experience:11 yrs.
Total years playing:17 yrs.
Nicky had been one the first young players to take old school Woodsball creativity and toughness, and meld it with new school aggressive play style needed to win on concept fields. By the time Airball had cemented itself as the tournament field of choice in early 00’s, Nicky had become one of the top players in the league, seamlessly making the transition out of the woods. Nicky was a household name on the pro circuit, playing in the Nations Cup, the first Xball game ever held, helping the all stars of Team USA defeat Sweden.
The 2003 season was a time of change and chaos in tournament paintball. The sport had split into two formats, seven-man and Xball, and the NXL had been created. Entering his 20’s and trying to find his living in the paintball world, Nicky left Ground Zero in the wake of the program’s change into New York Xtreme. After trying out with the top teams in paintball he decided on Chicago Aftershock. He chose ‘Shock because they were closer to home than the other big pro team on the west coast and because his brash aggressive play style fit with the five time world champs, who had come to define aggressive paintball play.
The team was rife with problems and his stint in on the Chi-town squad was short lived. In late 2003 Nicky moved to San Diego to become part of Team XSV, which was made up of pro players from the NXL looking to break away from the constrictive rules of the league, which banned their players and teams from competing in other formats and leagues. The NXL transitioned into the PSP PRO in ‘09, and had changed those rules in ‘04, but the first year of the NXL was hectic, and the top players had become disenfranchised with the direction of the sport and their teams at that time.
The film Heroes for a Day documents XSV’s rise to the top, and Nicky’s life is one of the main story lines. In the film, we see him mature from a talented, experienced, yet headstrong free agent, to one of the most dominant, dynamic, and versatile team players in the league today. Nicky has become a fan favorite since the release of the film, because of its honest look into his struggle and life. He has also appeared in numerous Der Der films and will be featured in the highly anticipated Cerial killers 2.
After major financial hits to the XSV program during 2006, Nicky was forced to seek greener pastures in order to continue to play the game of paintball at the highest level and to seek a world championship– the ultimate goal of all professional paintball players. He now plays with Los Angeles Ironmen, one of the most successful and legendary teams in paintball history.
He made an instant impact for the team, helping pull off a 2 on 5 in a crucial point against the Russian Legion in his first tournament, which they went on to win. Coach Shane Pestana awarded him MVP 07 for his constant clutch play that year. In two short years Nicky has helped the Ironmen win five events and two world titles, with numerous second place finishes.
Though he has found the success on the Ironmen that eluded him early in his career, he is not stopping his drive or resting on his past success. In fact, with the retirement of coach Shane Pestana, Nicky will have to step up his involvement in the organizations.
No other paintball player has come to embody the lifestyle, the mental toughness, and the resiliency need to survive the harsh world of pro paintball. Entering the prime of his physical conditioning and skill, Cuba is poised to make his impact felt on the field and in the minds of paintball fans everywhere, well into the next decade.