It was a tragic day for hockey. Today our our hockey community mourned the loss of fifteen lives in a horrific crash involving the Humboldt Broncos team bus and a semi. For many of us hockey parents, we’ve been on the proverbial bus trip with our youth hockey player or sent our kids/billet kids off on the junior bus. In fact, this morning I sent my youngest on a bus up to Epcot. I was a nervous wreck the whole time he was on the road.
For the uninitiated, junior hockey is available to players 16-20 years old and a great stepping stone into NCAA hockey or professional hockey. My boys have played in a program that went from mites (U8) to juniors for several seasons. Unequivocally, the youth players revered their junior counterparts and were devoted fans of our junior teams. Similarly, the junior players gave back a lot to our youth players. They spent time at practices, watching their games and cheering them on. It is an amazing relationship that exists between these players.
During Jake’s first U16 year (Goalielocks Squirt AA, The Mayor Mites), we had a billet. Biebs had been with the Hawks the previous season and really bonded with our boys. If he was going to come back to Palm Beach, he wanted to stay with us. Fortunately, Biebs is an awesome kid and we enjoyed having him here. It really allowed us to see the level of commitment and effort it takes to play junior hockey.
Throughout his season with us, Biebs would jump on the Hawks bus almost every weekend for games. Every time he was on that bus, I would worry. I worried that something would happen on those Florida back roads that span our state east to west. Or I worried that they’d get hit if the bus broke down. When you billet a player, they become a part of your family. This morning my heart sank for the Broncos community particularly for the families and billet families. I can’t imagine their despair as their worsts fears came to fruition.
The thing about tragedy is that it tells you a lot about the character and gumption of a community. Our hockey community is tight knit, strong, generous and supportive. Regardless of where we are from or what level of hockey we played or our kids play, we stand with Humboldt. They say there is no crying in hockey and for the most part it’s true. A hockey player could lose teeth, take a clapper to the face or have their bone broken by a shot. Not only would they not cry, they’d try to keep playing. Today, as we mourn the loss in our community, there’s crying in hockey.
I love our hockey community. The Gofundme campaign is already over $2 million. Moreover, tonight as I scan Facebook, the pictures of the Jets (Winnipeg) and Blackhawks (Chicago) game popped into my feed. In a show of solidarity with Humboldt, both NHL teams wore jerseys with Broncos on the back instead of their own names. Before the puck dropped, they met at center ice in an incredible show up support to Humboldt. Many of the players that have made the show, cut their teeth in junior hockey. For these players, they’ve been on hundreds of bus trips.
Lastly, hockey is an incredibly expensive sport. This is especially true at the junior level where many players are playing away from home. After the tragedy of yesterday’s crash, many of these families are faced with unexpected bills and loss of income. A Gofundme has been setup to help these families offset these unexpected costs, please consider donating. Tonight I’ll hold my boys a little closer tonight as life is precious and not promised. #prayersforhumboldt
Here’s the link to the fundraiser: Funds For Humboldt Broncos