It's hard to believe but next month will mark five years since the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, a tragic event that took the lives of 16 people in the blink of an eye.
In the five years that have passed the 13 survivors have mostly moved on with their lives while paying tribute to their lost friends and teammates along the way. Former Broncos defenseman Ryan Straschnitzki was paralyzed from the chest down during the accident and you wouldn't blame him if he chose to live a quiet life somewhere far away from the public eye. But, that's not the way 'Straz' wants to live his life. Incredibly, he sees his tragedy as an opportunity to reach other people and to inspire them to be better in their own lives.
The now 23 year old does public speaking events and this past weekend while speaking to the Yorkton Secon Maulers sportsman dinner he announced his plans to break through his struggle mindset and earn a spot on team Canada's 2026 Paralympic sledge hockey (Para Hockey) team.
“It’s not falling into a fixed mindset,” he said, adding, "when you do fall into a fixed mindset you are often unchangeable in your approach.”
“At the end of the day I’m an athlete. I want to get back to hockey. It’s so much of who I am,” said Straschnitzki.
“I continue to work on it. Hopefully I’ll win a medal one day,” he said.
Again it’s about mindset and knowing “there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said, adding that is something coaches, teammates and family have helped instil in him for years.
“Determination is playing through the hard times,” he said, adding “when life gets tough” it’s time “to continue to work hard, to persevere.”
Honestly, this kid is such an inspiration.
Again, I don't think anyone would blame him if he went on to live a quiet life following the horrifying things he has seen and been a part of. I can't imagine putting myself out there like he has after all he's been through. I know that we use terms like "warrior" when talking about hockey players and their level of toughness, but Straz is a legit warrior. One of the toughest young men in hockey without a doubt.