Monday, 9 April 2018

Coming Together for Humboldt

There is a special bond that can be built on the team bus.

In the beginning, it’s a motoring couch for players to build friendships and banter mindlessly about the places you have been, the people you have met, and the road you have taken to make it this far in your sporting journey. A movie might be on, a few players might have their cellphones out, but it’s a chance to get to know one another.

By the playoffs, you’re family. Everyone knows everyone. You’re sharing stories of the season, but you’re also into your routines. The mindset has changed from kid-like curiousity about one another to adult-like preparation. Every stop has the potential to see the season continue on victoriously or come to an end in bitter defeat.

Anyone in the sports world will tell you about riding the bus. The stories are endless and will always bring a smile to the faces of those telling them. They were getting to play the game they love and travel with the people they learned to love, all the way from the coaches and trainers to the announcers and drivers. We all know someone who has lived that life.

And I think that’s why it’s been so hard to put into words the grief everyone is feeling after the bus crash in rural Saskatchewan that claimed the lives of 15 members of the Humboldt Broncos hockey family.

Tears have been welled up in my eyes since I first started seeing the emails, tweets and messages. The knot in my stomach and lump in my throat won’t be going away any time soon. It’s a feeling that many Canadians are dealing with.

Many of us didn’t know anyone on the bus or any of the families now dealing with the tragedy. But we all know someone who did. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time in junior hockey, it’s that the hockey world is a small one. In Lethbridge, for example, current Hurricane Logan Barlage hails from the tiny community of 5,900, while local product Logan Boulet has been the focal point of many stories for donating his organs before his death. The sports world, in general, is also pretty small.

That world will undoubtedly struggle to come to grips with what happened. Looking at the pictures of those who have left us and those who are still fighting for their lives makes us feel helpless. Yet, it’s in this time of need when the hockey world and our country have come together.

It has been absolutely heartwarming to see the love and support shown from coast to coast. We’ve come together in the darkest of times to show solidarity, whether it be on the ice in tributes or off the ice with donations and, more importantly, shoulders to cry on.

Sometimes, I think we forget that we are all family. We forget to stop and realize that we’re all just human, whether it’s trying to make our dreams come true or simply trying to make ends meet. In the heat of battle, whether in hockey or in life, we forget that we’re all in this together.

On the team bus, a lot of strategizing is done. There is talk about how to beat the opponent. But there’s also talk about why. It might be for a family member, an injured teammate or another noble cause.

As we mourn the lives of the Broncos’ players and staff lost and think about those who are still fighting for their lives, let’s also remember to thank those who came upon the scene and tried to help them. From the first responders and passersby to the doctors and nurses at the hospital. Let’s also keep the families and friends of those involved in our thoughts, as their journey through this has only just begun. And let us keep coming together, not just in death, but in life, look out for each other and love each other, as we’ll just never know what’s coming down the road.

Let’s do it for the Broncos.

If you wish to donate the GoFundMe campaign set up for them, click here.

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