The Western Hockey League holds its annual draft in May, selecting fourteen and fifteen-year-old players, with the intention that the best draft picks will join the roster a year later. Quinton “Q” Waitzner had circled the date, May 8th, 2015, knowing that it would be an important moment in his hockey career.
Throughout the season, potential draft picks are subjected to scouting, rankings, provincial teams, and tournaments, all of which could ultimately dictate their draft position. Projections showed Quinton being drafted anywhere from the late first round to the mid-rounds of the draft. As the day progressed, like money draft hopefuls, Q sat in class while frequently checking his phone for updates. It wasn’t until the ninth round, 186th overall, that the Swift Current Broncos drafted the physical and speedy forward.
With pride came disappointment, Quinton had hoped to be drafted sooner. At Quest, we understand that whether an athlete is drafted in the 1st round, the 9th round, or not at all, the journey is only just beginning. Predicting potential at such a young age is difficult and it is often why things can change so quickly at the WHL level. As part of his support system, alongside Quinton’s father Ernie, mother Melinda, and brother Ethan, Quest reiterated the importance of focusing on player development and proving the naysayers wrong.
As a fifteen-year-old ninth round pick, Quinton knew that his work ethic and skill at the Broncos rookie camp needed to exceed expectations. He did exactly that. It didn’t take long for coach at the time Mark Lamb, and Jamie Porter, Director of Hockey Operations, to take notice. The organization was surprised to see Quinton’s physical presence, his puck pursuit, and his ability to skate with older players surpassed their expectations.
Less than four months after the draft, Quinton’s hard work paid off with a contract offer to join the Broncos lineup. Having dreamt of becoming a WHL player, Quinton had no difficulties making the decision. He was joining a phenomenal organization, where the likes of Trottier and Sakic developed years earlier.
After a year at Shawnigan Lake School, Q’s game improved thanks to the support of talented coaches and he also excelled in the classroom. As a sixteen-year-old, Quinton returned to Swift Current. The coaching staff decided that, similar to other young draft picks, Quinton would best develop with a year at the Junior B level.
Quinton is currently playing with the Saanich Braves. His first two goals of the season came November 25th as he helped the Braves to a 6-2 win. For Quinton, the game had added significance having just attended a service for his late grandfather. Despite a heavy heart, while playing in honour of his Grandpa, Quinton was a dominant force throughout the game with his speed and tenacity. He was named First Star and for the entire Waitzner family, it will be a day they do not soon forget.
Quinton Waitzner, #25, currently has 7 points and 68 PIM in 23 games for the Saanich Braves.