Adam Herold would have been 17 years old on Thursday.
The captain of the Regina Pat Canadians was called up as an associate player for the Humboldt Bronco’s playoff run. He was the youngest player killed in the deadly crash on Highway 35 north of Tisdale, Sask. on the evening of April 6.
“This is a hard day to talk about this, but Adam was a strong kid, so I’m going to try to be strong for him,” Russell Herold, Adam’s father said.
In Montmartre, Sask. Russell sat at the end of his son’s bed, a picture of Adam, his wife Raelene, and his daughter Erin sat on a dresser over his shoulder, bordered by a frame that read “family.”
Near the pillows lay a new surfboard, still in the packaging, a gift that will never be opened.
“It’s tough because that obviously isn’t going to be there from now on. It’s a void that we’re going to have to fill somehow,” he said.
Adam was a star hockey player. A second-round draft pick of the Prince Albert Raiders, he captained the Pat Canadians in just his second season with the team, carrying on a tradition of donning the “C” no matter which team he played for.
He was a strong defender and a quiet leader, both on and off the ice. Adam made an impact on every life he touched.
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“[He was} strong, humble, passionate,” Russell paused, “and everyone’s best-friend. He tried to lead by example, and was just a true friend. I think that’s why people endeared themselves to him.”
To his family, Adam was more than just the smooth-skating number 10. He was a nature-lover, an outdoorsman, a hunter, a snowmobiler. As much as he loved hockey, he loved the farm, he loved his family, and he loved his friends.
“He loved being in the outdoors, and being on a quad, and getting dirty. It’s just part of being a farm boy, and that’s what he was at heart: a farm boy,” Russell beamed with pride as he spoke; the love, and admiration for his son impossible to hide. “One day he may have come back to the farm, it’s hard to say.”
At his family home friends, neighbours, teammates, even old teachers gathered to console each other, to honour his memory.
“We’ve been buddies for so many years. We’d come out here all the time, my dad and I, and we would go hunting with Russell and Adam. We’d go on snowmobiling trips. He was just one of the best guys I knew, and when you think of him there’s not a flaw I can think of,” Jack Glen, one of Adam’s long-time friends and a teammate on the Pat Canadians said.
“He was probably the best leader on and off the ice that I knew. He was always the last guy packing the bus, the last guy in the room checking for gear, and he was just the guy to go the extra-mile and make sure everything was good,” Glen added.
When asked what he missed the most about Adam, Glen’s answer was simple: “Just having him around. On the ice, and off the ice, his presence was something special.”
Everyone who spoke about him said the same thing. His presence was special, he was special. More than anything, he was just one of the guys, whether that meant talking hockey, hunting, or playing video games.
“One of his close friend’s dad asked us the other day ‘How is Adam doing in hockey, we haven’t heard? Jacob talks to him every night, but they don’t talk hockey.’ That’s just the way Adam was, he was more concerned about Jacob as a friend. I think that’s why his friends genuinely loved him and followed him,” Russell smiled.
The two played hockey together when they first began playing the sport, but while Adam was miles ahead of his friend, he still took the time to make sure they bonded; even as hockey pulled him further, and further away.
“I could barely skate,” Jacob Sebastian, one of Adam’s oldest friends chuckled as he mimed himself half-stepping, half-stumbling over the ice. “I was probably stepping like that, and he was just zinging around everybody, and scores and stuff like that. Without him, I probably wouldn’t be the person I am today.”
“He always tried to grab me to play Xbox with him all the time, and that relationship always pulled us closer together, even if he was two miles away, or 400 miles away. That relationship always brought us closer together,” Sebastian continued.
He smiled when spoke, adulation seeping into his voice, as it had everyone who spoke of Adam. Jacob laughed as he added Adam had “probably the biggest” heart.
Earlier, his father mulled at the edge of the bed, “we hope he had a chance to really make his mark, and be somebody in life, and you just hope it’s not forgotten now on the side of a road,” Russell said.
Adam Herold may be gone, but it’s clear his spirit will not be forgotten.