Brandon Switzer got a chance to move up to Junior A hockey in the Alberta Junior Hockey League before he actually stepped on the bench of the Creston Valley Thunder Cats for his first game as Head Coach.
Switzer, 26, was promoted to Head Coach and GM by the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League club in the spring, but was offered an Assistant Coaching position by the Spruce Grove Saints recently, which was announced by the club late last week.
For Switzer it’s a great opportunity to move up at his age, “and to be in an organization like Spruce Grove. It’s a great step in my career.”
Switzer credits his lone season with the Thunder Cats and being in the KIJHL for this opportunity.
“It’s really the root of it all. I’m very grateful to have been given an opportunity by former Head Coach Bill Rotheisler and the Creston Valley Thunder Cats as an organization last summer,” said Switzer.
The organization then showed trust in him by offering the head coaching position in the spring.
“With Larry Binks and Shannon Veitch, giving me that opportunity to recruit and develop my own team, I’m very lucky to have been given that opportunity by Creston,” he said. “Without Creston, there is no moving up for me into Junior A. Creston is an amazing place for young players to play in and to develop. So is the KIJHL.”
This past season was a huge learning curve for Switzer as he coached in minor hockey before. Working alongside Rotheisler to gain valuable experience helped the Brandon, Manitoba native immensely. Switzer said he was able to figure out what it takes to be a coach at the junior level.
In the Saints’ announcement announcing his hiring, GM Rob Sklaruk spoke about Switzer.
“Brandon comes to us as a motivated, detail oriented professional. We feel he can successfully transition into a Head Coach one day,” said Sklaruk. “I’m looking forward to seeing him behind our bench this season.”
While playing, Switzer’s leadership ability was evident with a plethora of personal awards and accomplishments. Beyond being named SJHL Playoff MVP, he also received a Fan Favorite Award, a Humanitarian Award, an SJHL Leadership Scholarship, and was an alternate captain throughout his career.
“We are very pleased to have Brandon join our coaching staff this year,” said Saints Head Coach Bram Stephen. “He has excellent leadership and communication skills, along with his knowledge of the game, which has allowed him to become a Head Coach/GM at the junior level in such a short time. These skills will greatly benefit our players and we are excited that he is joining the Saints organization.”