Cody Thompson runs White Collar Boxing Company in Airdrie, where he coached Humboldt Broncos player Ryan Straschnitzki. While Thompson says Straschnitzki was a strong competitor at the gym, the young player’s biggest battle now lies ahead.
“He seems to be in good spirits. I mean, as good as you can be when you’re 18 years old and you’ve gotten the news that you have an extremely long road to recovery,” Thompson said on Sunday after speaking on the phone with Straschnitzki, who is recovering from surgery in Saskatoon.
Straschnitzki suffered a broken back in the crash that killed ten of his teammates. Thompson says Straschnitzki is now just starting to process the full extent of the tragedy.
“He knows that life is probably going to change for him but he’s ready for it,” Thompson said.
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“It was very encouraging to hear and we are just really happy that this is where his focus is because spinal cord injuries can be the type of thing that can take a long time before somebody is willing and able to look at what can happen and what those next steps are.
“And with Ryan, he’s a very strong individual and he’s basically ready to take on those challenges.”
Thompson said his friend doesn’t want to be treated differently because of his injury. The long-term effects of the back injury are not known at this time.
“When we talked he was like, I have an injury, that’s it. I have an injury and we are going to get through it and I need to figure out what’s next,” Thompson said.
A fundraiser has been started in Straschnitzki’s name. Thompson has started selling ballcaps that read “#strazstrong,” a nickname the young hockey player got at the gym. Thompson says it’s that toughness that will help get Straschnitzki through this.
“When he was telling us, ‘I’m really struggling. I don’t know if I will be able to play hockey again,’ and he actually apologized to me for that, [it] goes to tell you what kind of a person Ryan is. We said, ‘As long as your head still works and your hands still work we still have work to do,'” Thompson said.
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Thompson always talked to the hockey players he coaches at his gym about being like water; when obstacles come up in life, you go around them. Words of wisdom Thompson says Straschnitzki already lived by before his plans changed.
“This is a young man that is not going to quit. When we got off the phone, the last thing he said to me was, ‘I’m not going to quit and I’m not going to stop. We are going to be like water,'” Thompson said.
“If someone is going to get through this and someone is going to be able to handle it, Straz is one of those guys that’s going to be able to deal with it. You know that Ryan has a lot of success in front of him,” Thompson said.
“We just don’t know exactly what it’s going to look like yet and we thought we did. We had a plan and plans change. But there still a lot for Ryan to do and there’s a lot in life for him.”
The ballcaps can be purchased at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Any decision that Ryan needs to make, whether it’s over the next two months or two years … It can be over the next 10 years. [We hope] that the decisions he makes are based on what’s right for Ryan and not what works financially,” Thompson said about the fundraising efforts.
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