New Iceinline Sports Complex Manager Brad Weiler has relocated to Central Otago from Oakville, Ontario. image central caught up with Brad this week at Iceinline in Alexandra.
image central: How did you come to be here?
Brad Weiler: I have always been intrigued by what New Zealand has to offer in regards to the countryside, mountains and wilderness. The raw adventurous side of things is what really pushed me to move here. I was in Wanaka and noticed an article in the Otago Daily Times that Ice line was looking for a manager, and having grown up around Ice Hockey rinks in Canada and being so passionate about it I called in … and now I am here.
image central: Tell us about your role at Iceinline?
Brad Weiler: So here at the Alexandra Ice Rink I am the Rink Manager so I run things day to day. I am here at 8:00 AM in the morning, I do the flooding of the rink to make sure the ice is in tip top shape. I do a lot of the cleaning as well as skate sharpening. Everything on the inside I pretty much handle.
This year I have taken it upon myself to teach all the new school ice hockey programs. With me having a coaching background I took it on and I think that it has had a really positive outcome. We’ve had a lot of students having a great time with it.
image central: What was appealing about coming to Central Otago?
Brad Weiler: I’ve always wanted to come to Central Otago from what I had heard about its beauty – places like Queenstown and Wanaka. And now I really get to impact on the community and help grow a sport in the area.
image central: What did you know about the area before you came?
Brad Weiler: I’d heard a lot about the adventure side of New Zealand. Things like the crazy Bungy jumping, swings, helicopter rides, hikes or tramping as they call it here. That’s what drew my partner to want to come to this area. After I arrived I heard that ice hockey and ice skating were also here so that was just an added bonus.
image central: How does your experience compare with your expectations?
Brad Weiler: It far exceeds it, I mean what I thought it was going to be like when coming here, I have had that. I’ve been out in the wilderness and doing things like that. But I never expected that I would be teaching sport whilst I was here and that to me is something that I am very passionate about so it’s just made it that much better for me. I really thought I would be just working in a job say in a ski field doing something any tourist would do. Instead I have found myself in a role that I am passionate about in a community of people that are really genuine and make me feel welcome. Being a tourist you don’t really expect that – to be welcomed into a community with open arms and have people who are happy to see you out there everyday. To me that is really cool.
image central: How did you first get involved in ice hockey?
Brad Weiler: I have been playing ice hockey my whole life. The first time I played I was three years old and I played my last game 3 days before I had left Canada.
My family is big into ice hockey. My Dad grew up playing and my Mum’s family grew up playing ice hockey. It’s a little bit more a way of life. When you are born in Canada you are pretty much given you first pair of skates as soon as you can walk. We have our first organised hockey when you are 4 years old and you can start playing. I got put in our local league then. I could barely skate at the time and didn’t know what I was doing but it was good fun… I enjoyed it and every year you get better as you go on. It’s just something that I will always do.
image central: What inspires your passion for the sport?
Brad Weiler: Growing up in the family that I am in … they are all very passionate about hockey as well and it’s something that I kind of grew up around. I love the athleticism as well as the passion you have for the game once you learn to play it; being part of a team, the camaraderie you get out of it …also the rush you get out of being on the ice… everything you learn about the game keeps your passion going for it.
image central: What position do you play?
Brad Weiler: I grew up playing centre. So I would be a forward, basically a player that was on attack taking the face offs and typically someone who is relied on to play both ends of the ice so I would have to get back and play defence as well as playing on the forward side of things as well.
image central: How does playing Ice Hockey in New Zealand compare to back home in Canada?
Brad Weiler: New Zealand has recently started to come around to Ice Hockey. I was surprised to see it, it’s a growing sport and the fitness levels of Kiwis is good enough to do it. Now it’s a matter of getting people here who can push the game forward and coach properly. I was lucky enough to be part of the Eron Cup this past weekend which is the South Island Championship and there were 8 teams across the South Island competing. There are really high quality players that coming out to these events – it’s really an eye opener.
There are also differences in the general skill levels and facilities. I was fortunate enough growing up in Canada to have a stick in my hand since I was three and I just felt like it was second nature. There are a lot of rinks in Canada, for example in my home town there were two within a 5 minute drive. One had a full size rink and an Olympic sized one, and the next one had a 4 rink complex and each one had seating around it and there was also a restaurant in the rink so people have a meal and watch their kid play … there are lots of multiplex facilities available with multiple sheets of ice.
image central: Where to next?
Brad Weiler: Right now I am on a working holiday visa in NZ until December at latest. After that backpacking – Aussie, SE Asia before back to Canada or NZ????