Soliai And Friends Paint The Town Red - And Green And Yellow

Posted May 6, 2013

Miami's DT arranges paint ball competition with teammates.

Golf courses, bowling alleys and the open water are the most common places you’ll find football players bonding away from the field. Miami Dolphins veteran defensive tackle chose a much different venue.

Last Friday, just hours before this year’s class of rookies practiced together for the first time in Davie, Soliai gathered some of his fellow defensive teammates and punter Brandon Fields together for some friendly combat. They met in the little town of Medley near Hialeah at Splat Paint Field for a few hours of paint ball battle.

“I did this a couple of times last year with my family but I thought it would be something fun to share with my teammates, especially the defense,” Soliai said. “It’s not just a bond we have on the field but we should do something off the field that brings us closer and I figured why not to see if it changes the way we interact on and off the field.”

Second-year linebacker Olivier Vernon showed up in full jungle gear expecting the battles to be taking place in the woods, so when he saw the netted in area serving as a field he changed his outfit. Most of the players came decked out in camouflage gear and the facility provided the protective vests and headgear complete with a clear facemask.

Each participant was given a chance to get used to the air powered paint guns over on the shooting range adjacent to he building. After some practice time and instruction on the use of the guns, loaded with different colored paint balls, it was time to do battle. Two teams of five players each took their positions behind the varying inflatable barriers and then the sound of rapidly fired paint balls hitting against the inflatables were all that could be heard.

“It’s really like a war out there, but you’ve got to stay calm, cool and collected,” said Vernon, who was eliminated early in the first game. “It stings a little bit but you’ve got to suck it up and it’s part of the game. Paul, he’s a great leader and he always does things like Bar-B-Qs and invites people over to his house for pool parties, so this was a no-brainer. He’s a great guy and tries to have everyone come together.”

The only other sound that was more prevalent than that of the paint balls being fired was the laughter coming from all sides. Cornerbacks Nolan Carroll and Jimmy Wilson showed off their athleticism as the clock ticked down by weaving in and out, dodging paint balls and choosing the right time to sprint and advance. Wilson had played once before as a kid in San Diego and this was the first time for Carroll, but he benefited from having two military parents.

Soliai took in the moment and was visibly pleased with how everything turned out, hinting that he hopes to invite more teammates out next time if he can get them off the golf course.

“It’s just like football. We’re all trying to compete and trying to survive,” he said. “This is all about competing and we’re off on Fridays so I figured we might as well do something that makes us sweat. It’s like a little workout for us and the most fun part about it is just moving around out there like soldiers. It’s like when you’re a kid playing army and we just wanted to have fun and enjoy ourselves until we’re tired. It was a productive day and we didn’t use the off day to just sleep.”

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