After two seasons as the General Manager of the Okanagan Rockets, Braeden Pistawka has decided to step down to focus on his career as a teacher at Aberdeen Hall Academy and to spend some time away from the rink.
Pistawka was named the 2nd General Manager of the Okanagan Rockets in 2015 when David Michaud stepped down to join the Penticton Vees of the BCHL. In his two seasons as General Manager, Pistawka saw the Okanagan Rockets finish the 2015-16 season with a 23-12-5 record (4th place in the regular season), and the 2016-17 season with a record of 27-10-0-3 (3rd place in the regular season). In the playoffs, Pistawka saw the Okanagan Rockets reach the semi-finals in 2015-16, and the quarterfinals in 2016-17.
"It's been a tough decision for me over the last couple weeks” said Pistawka. “Ultimately with my teaching career I felt I wasn't able to give [the Okanagan Rockets] program what it deserves in terms of commitment, which isn't fair to the players and parents."
During his time as General Manager, Pistawka was instrumental in forming a partnership with Okanagan Mission Secondary School (OKM) and the Hockey Canada Skills Academy, which greatly enhanced the Okanagan Rockets program. Pistawka also worked hard to increase the Okanagan Rockets presence in the community, getting the team involved in off-ice events such as reading to children at the Okanagan Regional Library and volunteering at the Hungry Hungry Half Marathon. In addition, Pistawka was instrumental in establishing the 1st Annual Okanagan Rockets Alumni Hockey Game in 2016.
Okanagan Rockets head coach Eric Blais coached Pistawka as a player and had him as an assistant coach in Kelowna Minor Hockey before coming together with the Okanagan Rockets in 2016. Blais had the following to say about Pistawka:
“I have known Braeden since he was 14 years old. I had the pleasure of coaching him in Bantam and Midget. He is a young man of incredible passion and energy. He wore the ‘C’ both years on the team I coached, so that should tell you a little of his character and personality. I also had the opportunity to mentor and work with Braeden in his first years of coaching and realized that he was truly a young man who soaked up knowledge, in all aspects of life. Braeden brought all those qualities – passion, energy, character, integrity and love of the game – to the Okanagan Rockets program. He has left this program in excellent shape, continuing to build on the tradition that was here before him. He put in countless hours and sweat to move this program forward. I, personally will miss Braeden, but I also realize that it is time for him to move forward in his life and put forth all his energy and passion to his new love as an Educator at Aberdeen Prep. I wish him all the best and want to thank Braeden personally for bringing me into this program.”
In addition to his time as General Manager, Pistawka was a member of the Okanagan Rockets coaching staff for the 2013-14 season which saw the team claim a BCMML championship, a Pacific Regional championship, and ultimately a national bronze at the 2014 Telus Cup in Moose Jaw. Pistawka previously coached in Kelowna Minor Hockey Association for 3 years at the Midget Tier 1 and Tier 2 levels. Pistawka also worked as a Director of Hockey Operations with the BC Hockey High Performance program at the U15 level.
In closing, Pistawka adds: "I'd like to thank all members of the program for their continued support over my last 7 years in hockey."
The Okanagan Rockets wish Pistawka nothing but the best in his future endeavours.