April 8th, 2020 ~ Vol. 90 No. 14
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#HumboldtStrong
Simply Selles by David Selles
 
David Selles
Pass Herald Reporter
Two years ago on Monday, April 6, the small Saskatchewan community of Humboldt was rocked by a tragic accident.

16 people lost their lives in the accident and 13 others had their lives changed forever.

The Humboldt Broncos were travelling to a playoff game when their bus was hit by a semi, shattering lives and a community in a split second.
As I write this on the two-year anniversary of the accident, I look back to the moments and days following the news that shifted the hockey world.

I was a college student at that time and was able to capture my immediate thoughts through an assignment.

This is what I wrote a few days after the accident.

#HumboldtStrong

As a young athlete in high school, trips out of town with my teammates were always one of the highlights of the season. Cramming together in a bus or a van was all part of the sports experience. It was those long trips on the roads where I didn’t have a worry in the world. It was just me, my coaches and my friends ready to go out and do something we all loved.

We never think that something like what happened to the Humboldt Broncos will ever happen to us. So we go about our trips and are oblivious to the possibilities in front of us.
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That’s why what happened to the Humboldt Broncos hockey team hits so close to home for me. Knowing that I could’ve been in the same situation as that team shakes me to the core.

I can’t even begin to fathom what the parents and family members of the players and staff are going through right now.

Even as I sit here on the verge of tears writing this, I know what I’m feeling can’t compare to those who are tied so much closer to this than I am. Parents wondering and waiting to hear if their child is one of the dead, or is still alive. Players who have survived and feel guilt that they’re still here while their close friends and teammates aren’t.

They say the world of sports is a special one; that it brings people together. Sports is said to give everyone common ground. Those sentiments ring no truer then right now. After watching the weekend unfold with tweets from all over the world, people donating time and money and complete strangers checking in on the community, the sports community once again shows how special it is. One of the latest showings of support is people leaving hockey sticks with Humboldt Strong on the blades outside their doors or near the outdoor rinks with captions like “Leaving it out on the porch tonight. The boys might need it, wherever they are.” Or how about a father, who takes a picture of his boy and two teammates holding hands while they lie in hospital beds with uncertainties swirling around them, but just knowing that they still have each other to cling to. That photo has now been liked by over 100,000 people all over the world who don’t even know these players but just want to show love. How about the innocence of a young hockey fan? A five-year old’s response to hearing the captain passed away, “Maybe Heaven needs a Captain?” His dad with a tearful response, “You’re absolutely right pal, you’re absolutely right.”
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The sports world is, and will continue to be here for you, Humboldt. We stand with you and for you and will comfort you as long as you need.

But there is another side of this story that still needs to be heard.

I have wanted to remain in the world of sports ever since I first started watching and playing them. The idea of covering everything sports had interested me my whole life…until Sunday night.

After watching Ryan Rishaug of TSN choking back tears when recapping the vigil Sunday night, I’m not so sure I have the strength to cover EVERYTHING sports.

This aspect of the tragedy is something that is often overlooked. People remember the first responders, the athletes, the parents and members of the community, but nobody is ever there to relay how painful it must be for the reporters to relay the emotions, information and shock that these journalists face covering an event like this. Just watching Rishaug struggle to piece together words during his live interview makes me realize what these journalists do takes an insane amount of strength.

These journalists are the ones relaying how a player was going to turn 17 just 6 days after the accident and was prepared to take his next hockey step in the WHL next year, but will no longer have that chance. Or how a 29-year-old radio host with passion for football and who had dreams of making it big won’t be able to fulfill them. Journalists live through the pain of these events too, but for some reason, no one is checking if they’re OK. We need to not only stand with those directly affected by the accident, but those who go to cover it.
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Many of us can’t grasp what it would be like to cover a story like this with emotions running high and uncertainty swirling in the air. Without fail, journalists manage to hold it together to tell the world what is happening.

So let us not only stand with the first responders, family, friends and community, let’s stand with the broadcasters, cameramen and reporters who witnessed and delivered this heartbreak too.

Let us all stay #HumboldtStrong.

Two years later and I still fight to hold back tears at the thoughts of what everyone went through.

Even this year as a coach, travelling with my players by bus to different games and tournaments.

I never think that something like that could ever happen to me and in all honesty, I’m very naive for thinking that way.

I’m not saying we need to scare ourselves into not doing these types of trips but I am saying that we need to be thankful for the many trips we’ve made from point a to point b safely.

The families who lost loved ones, the reporters who had to keep it together for their on-air update.

There were so many affected by this tragedy and I hope we can all keep them in our thoughts at this time.

While we can’t be there physically, we can keep them in our thoughts and prayers as they continue to navigate their new lives.

We are forever #HumboldtStrong.
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April 8th, 2020 ~ Vol. 90 No. 14
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