Bronco Back On The Ice

“When one door closes, another one opens” says Straschnitzki, former player on Humboldt Broncos Hockey team. Straschnitzki is one of the survivors in the horrific crash on April 6th, 2018. He was paralyzed from the chest down and knows he will never be able to skate again. Dealing with this traumatic, life changing obstacle, Straschnitzki spent many hours, days and nights in the hospital and after three long months, he was in rehab and began gaining back his strengths.

Ryan Straschinitzki enjoying himself playing sledge hockey after this brutal accident with his former team Humboldt Broncos (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

After waking up from a seven-hour long surgery just a few days after the accident, Straschnitzki’s parents Tom and Michelle were eager to speak with him since it was the first time talking to him after the accident on April 6th, 2018. As soon as Straschnitzki woke up from his surgery, he was still tired and drowsy from his medication, but he posed an unusual question regarding sledge hockey. He was wondering if the Canadian Team made it to the Olympics. His parents were very surprised and overwhelmed at his commitment and dedication to the sport that he wanted to continue playing and being involved in it.

The study of sport in society can focus on how society looks at you as an individual playing the sport you love and which people enjoy watching. As a former, committed athlete, Straschnitzki lost his physical ability to participate in his favourite sport following the accident. Straschnitzki was faced with a problem as he was unable to participate in what he enjoyed doing the most: hockey with his former teammates. As an influential athlete, he found another sport that he could participate in and was motivated to develop new skills. Even though his physical ability lacked for a couple of months, he worked harder and harder to develop and improve those physical skills with physiotherapists in rehab and by never giving up. He was introduced to sledge hockey after the accident and he was able to develop new skills while learning how to play sledge hockey. His social interactions and mental ability to play sport did not change. He is still aware of everything that has happened in his life and embraces every new challenge that is thrown his way.

Ryan Straschnitzki, former Humboldt Bronco player. After bus crash paralyzed him, he is now playing sledge hockey and being instructed by the best Chris Cederstand. (Leah Hennel / Postmedia )

Straschnitzki has spent long days and early mornings in the rink with his coach Chris Cederstrand during his training sessions at East Calgary Twin Arena in Calgary. Throughout his journey, Straschnitzki had received a lot of motivation and meaningful visits. He stated that he must continue to push forward and make things happen. The Straschnitzki family witnessed appreciation and daily constant reminders of how Straschnitzki’s story reached out to so many individuals, including children, adults, parents, and individuals with low self-esteem.

On December 19, 2018 Straschnitzki and his parents looked through the donations that were stacked up in the lobby of the hotel they were living in for six months in Airdrie. Gifts and cards from the community, from unknown individuals, people who were inspired by Straschnitzki ‘s story and messages of condolences, for what he has gone through. Straschnitzki is embracing the attention and the power of being a role model to many other individuals going through similar or non-similar situations.

“I do it for them,” says Straschnitzki. “I do it for them because they can’t be here doing it for themselves.”

Straschnitzki’s life is like a hockey game. He states that, if you miss a shot, take a lap around the rink, glide up the ice, grab a puck and shoot. Straschnitzki’s life is described as hockey because of the fact that he has another chance to prove himself, another chance to give it all he’s got and another shot at life.

Emma White

Featured image: Straschnitzki at a fund raising sledge hockey game in Calgary in September 2018 (Source: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)

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