COVID-19 had a life-changing impact for Braeden Ostepchuk.
The former Kimberley Dynamiters goalie was preparing to transition from playing minor pro hockey to becoming an engineer. Through a contact, he had a job lined up in Philadelphia that he was excited about. The then 26-year-old was playing in his final season with the Evansville Thunderbolts in the Southern Professional Hockey League when the coronavirus put an end to his season. In 20 games, he was 13-5-0-2 with a 3.18 goals against average and a .902 save percentage.
“I’m down in the U.S on a temporary visa, I no longer have a job, I no longer have any health insurance. I no longer have a place to live. I don’t have any income,” says Ostepchuk, 27. “I have $70,000 in student debt left over. There was talk about what would happen with the border, but I decided I had to go home so I drove back to Alberta. The job I was going to do in the summer got pushed back. It kept getting delayed further.”
For the first time in a long time, he didn’t have anything going on. Ostepchuk got antsy though after two weeks and started reading a lot of books and listening to podcasts. Initially it was mostly on health and fitness.
“I was basically a binge learner,” says Ostepchuk, who got sick with the coronavirus during his travels to Philadelphia, but recovered.
Among the books he read was Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor from 161 to 180 AD when something struck him mentally.
“It just hit me. I felt the way I had been approaching my life previously – everything from playing minor pro hockey and trying to make it professionally and working so hard as an engineer at school – I kind of felt like I wasn’t really aligned with what I cared about most,” says Ostepchuk. “I wasn’t necessarily happy or fulfilled with what I was doing. I was just doing it to please my ego.”
From meditating more, he started enjoying nature and made lifestyle changes, which included his diet and worked on his life purpose.
“After a month or two, I was the happiest I had been in my life,” says Ostepchuk. “I just felt incredible.”
His change influenced his best friend to do the same, but it also gave him an idea suggesting Ostepchuk start a podcast, which he has calling it, Learn II Perform with Braeden Ostepchuk. Ostepchuk’s friend felt his knowledge could help others.
Ostepchuk played four years of Division III hockey with the Norwich University Cadets, a military school. He was a civilian there and says the whole idea at the university is serving a greater good.
“I felt there was a gap where I wasn’t really doing that.”
The podcast will change that.
“I just really loved sharing and helping people, and educating and teaching, coaching if you will,” says Ostepchuk, who has studied German, French, Spanish and Italian. “It’s a new purpose, and a new direction that I was super excited to do.”
He has recorded 13 podcasts averaging 20 minutes each. The first five will launch this week and he has completed enough to the end of January 2021. The information he discusses is based on his knowledge and experiences, along with information he has researched.
Ostepchuk, who is working full-time in retail, says he starts every episode with a quick gratitude expression.
“That’s one of the big values about my philosophical ship,” says Ostepchuk. “Express gratitude to someone that has helped me in my life in some way or another.”
When it comes to being grateful, Ostepchuk says the one year (2011-12) he spent in the KIJHL with the Dynamiters was a make or break year in his career.
“I wouldn’t have known it at the time, but without that year, I wouldn’t be where I ended up,” he says. “When I was playing minor hockey in Lethbridge, I was playing house league my 17-year-old year. I got cut from all the AA and AAA bantam and midget teams. I was on the outside looking in.”
He put his name out there to teams and the Dynamiters responded and he earned a spot. He helped the Dynamiters be among the best teams in the KIJHL, and was named the Goalie of the Year.
“If I didn’t end up in Kimberley, and played that year, my career would have ended at the age of 18 or 19 instead of 26 when I retired,” says Ostepchuk. “It was good for my development. It was a huge jump from where I was playing house league. I highly recommend the KIJHL.”
You can listen to his first podcast here.