Former Brandon Wheat King Brad Twordik has traded in his hockey stick for a whistle and is coaching the Vincent Massey high school hockey team this year.
Twordik, who turns 30 in November, was known for his robust style of play and spent four complete seasons with the Wheat Kings during the mid-to-late 1990s that consisted of four 20-goal seasons and a few penalty minutes here and there.
Now, he's on the ice coaching hockey and loving every minute of it.
"I've had great coaches over the years and now I get to pass that knowledge on to other individuals," said Twordik. "I think that is more rewarding than playing the game. That's what I'm looking forward to most of all."
Twordik, from Saskatoon, spent three seasons in the minor pro ranks and one season with the University of Saskatchewan. After the 2003/04-hockey season, Twordik moved on from the ultra competitive style of hockey, opting to instead try his hand in education. He moved back to Brandon and enrolled in Brandon University. After graduating from the program a few years ago, Twordik spent two years teaching in Deloraine and has since taken a position at Vincent Massey high school.
Quinton Grindle was the long-time coach of the Vincent Massey team and decided it was time to spend a bit more time with his family this year, opening the door for Twordik.
"I was coaching for nine years and I talked to administration and needed a little bit of a break," said Grindle. "I have two daughters that are involved in a lot of things in the community here and I wanted to spend more time with them.
"Brad (Twordik) volunteered to coach and I think it's great for the kids because they're going to get coached by a guy who has a lot of experience playing the game. They're definitely going to learn a lot."
"It's something I've wanted to do for quite a while," said Twordik. "I've always wanted to coach. Being a teacher now at Vincent Massey, it just seemed like the right fit."
Twordik coached high school volleyball and fastball while in Deloraine but this will be his first time coaching hockey. He says it's a little different behind the bench instead of on the ice.
"You're able to contribute when you're on the ice. You can't do anything from behind the bench," said Twordik with a smile. "You just have to do it in other ways. It's definitely going to be a challenge for me."
Grindle will remain with the team in a managerial capacity. The Vincent Massey team went 13-3 in league play a year ago, advancing to the league final where they lost to Killarney in a best-of-three series.
"We've only have a few returning players," said Twordik. "It's going to be tough shoes to fill for a lot of those guys. We have a lot of Grade 10s on our roster, but in saying that, these guys are going to develop and we'll see what happens in a couple of years. We're certainly not writing this year off. We have a really good team."