Paige Crozon playing for Humboldt at Commonwealth Games in Australia

Paige Crozon (left) drives to the basket past Azania Stewart during a basketball match between England and Canada at the Commonwealth Games on April 6, 2018, in Australia. Ian Hitchcock / Getty Images

Paige Crozon is wearing Canada on her jersey at the Commonwealth Games, but she is now playing for Humboldt.

Basketball has taken the 23-year-old to the University of Utah, a pro team in Germany (Saarlouis Royals) and now the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. But she was born and raised in the Saskatchewan community and is hurting in the wake of the horrific bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team that left 15 dead and 14 injured.

READ MORE: Investigating Humboldt Broncos crash likely to be a long process, experts say

“The last few days have been very hard,” Crozon said in an interview Monday. “We’ve had a very close family friend that lost his life in the accident. So it’s been a sad couple of days but I can’t even begin to imagine what those families are going through and what everyone else is going through back at home.”

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Crozon used to baby-sit one of the players who died in the crash. Out of respect for his family, she declined to say who.

Humboldt is a close-knit community and an athletic one, said Crozon. She grew up watching the Broncos, and as a youth she played hockey in the Broncos system.

“It really is something that hits home with me,” she said, “I’ve been calling home every day, keeping connected. My parents have gone to visit some of the families that have been affected.”

“It gives my being here a little bit more of a purpose,” she added. “Because I’m here doing what I love and I get to represent an amazing community back home that is just going through an extremely hard time.”

READ MORE: SJHL assistance fund to help junior hockey families affected by Humboldt Broncos bus crash

Her Canada teammates have rallied around her. Crozon scored eight points Monday as Canada defeated Mozambique 85-53 in Townsville to improve to 2-1-0 and assure itself of a berth in the semifinal.

Crozon knows the stretch of road outside of Tisdale, Sask., where Friday’s accident occurred. She played for a team in Tisdale and used to drive there with her father for practice two or three times a week.

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WATCH: Canada grieves as tearful memorial held for Humboldt Broncos

Click to play video: 'Canada grieves as tearful memorial held for Humboldt Broncos' Canada grieves as tearful memorial held for Humboldt Broncos
Canada grieves as tearful memorial held for Humboldt Broncos – Apr 9, 2018

Crozon, who asks that everyone keep Humboldt and the families affected in their thoughts and prayers, said the accident has her thinking.

“It’s made me realize just how fragile and unpredictable life is. So it just makes you appreciate the little things. And when this is all over, I get to go home and spend some time with my family and spend some time in the community. That will be good.”

Crozon is one of a handful of Saskatchewan athletes on Canada’s Commonwealth Games team.

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