Barwick native to face changes on, off the ice

After racking up 438 penalty minutes during the 2002/03 campaign for the Fresno Falcons of California, Barwick native Brad Both said his toughness is what he offers most to the team.
“I like to think I stick up for teammates and make them feel safe when they’re on the ice,” said the 26-year-old.
But now, it might be time to make a few changes—both on and off the ice.
On the ice, Both said it might be time to calm things down a bit and try to score a few more goals. Off the ice, he’s preparing to be a first-time father.
Both’s child is due to arrive at the beginning of February. In fact, he’s recently taken a leave of absence from the team to be home for the final few weeks of the pregnancy.
Although Both admitted he wouldn’t mind having a baby boy, he said it really doesn’t matter—he’s just happy to be a father.
And when asked if his son or daughter would follow in dad’s footsteps and play hockey, Both seemed pretty confident they would.
“I already have his first pair of skates,” he noted.
After leaving Barwick when he was just 15 years old to play hockey in Kenora, Both remembered being a little homesick that first year. “But I ended up meeting lots of good guys on my team and it got easier every year after that,” he remarked.
He’s had plenty of time to get use to being away from home and now is sporting the Falcons’ sweater for the fourth season of his professional hockey career.
But he said it’s now getting close to the time when he will have to make some life-altering decisions.
“I’m getting older and soon I’ll have to make a decision,” Both remarked. “Honestly, I’m not too sure what I’m going to do later on. I would like to finish the year and hopefully have a chance to do something special—like raise a trophy.”
Both was able to raise a few trophies—and win a few tournaments—here in Fort Frances in his earlier years. He played on the local ‘AA’ Bantam team for three years before switching teams to play hockey in Emo.
However, out of all the coaches Both has had over the years, there is one who influenced him more than anyone else: George Oltsher—his first coach.
“I learned so much from him,” Both said. “Everything he taught me I still use when I play hockey today.”
For his part, Oltsher said from the first day he coached Both, he could tell he stood out over the rest.
“He was quite a bit superior to the rest of the boys,” Oltsher said. “He was a dominant goal scorer and player.”
Although Both plays both a leader and protector role for the Falcons, Oltsher said he was more of a doer rather than a leader back when he coached him.
“He was actually very shy until he got his skates on—and then he was a hockey player,” Oltsher recalled.
From the sound of it, Both had his skates on more than his shoes as a youngster.
“Every day, me and my buddies would be on the outdoor rink skating,” Both remarked, adding that was one of his fondest memories from living in a small town.
“I miss the outdoor rinks a lot.”
From the outdoor rinks to playing professional hockey in California to soon becoming a father, this humble young man has accomplished a lot.
Although Both has to make a few decisions in the next little while, there’s one thing he knows for sure.
“If I had it my way, I would play hockey for the rest of my life,” he said.