Each year, seniors at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School deliver a speech to their peers on a topic of their choosing in the Newhall Auditorium. Often equal parts clever and moving, emotional and personal, each speech offers a glimpse into the lives, experiences, struggles, and triumphs of SSM seniors.
Throughout the 2018-19 school year, we will share these speeches with the SSM community and hope that you enjoy the humor, wisdom, and powerful reflections conveyed by our senior students.
In my time at Shattuck these past three years, one major event has occurred that has challenged me and changed my outlook on life. This event was the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in Saskatchewan on April 6, 2018. On that tragic day, sixteen people were killed and many more injured. It is in the time I spent grieving, processing, and eventually accepting this event that has allowed me to grow as an individual. The crash caused me to question everything I thought I knew and understood to be true. I have spent countless hours on the “how, why, what and what if” that surrounds this particular tragedy, but today as I am standing here, I believe that experiencing this life-changing event the way that I have has ultimately made me a better person, friend, student, sister, daughter, and even acquaintance.
After growing up in a Catholic family and attending a Catholic school for a majority of my life, I have become a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and that God has a plan. However, on that fateful day in April, I questioned God’s plan, and for the first time in my life, I believe that God made a mistake. This crash hit close to home not just because of how emerged I have been in the hockey community my whole life, but because I too had a brother who once played for the Humboldt Broncos. When we hear the two words “Humboldt Broncos” now, they are laced with tragedy. Before the crash though, those two words only brought joy to my brother, my family, and me. It was in Humboldt that I watched my brother venture off for his first junior hockey experience, have his first interview, and where he had his first junior hockey goal. All of those great memories now are no longer met with the same joy, but with an almost guilty feel to them. I questioned God on this day because I felt as if a message was being sent to me as well.
While I was at Nationals in Boston last year, my mother called me to talk about the crash after one of our games. She said, “The first time we went and visited your brother in Humboldt, we drove along the same road they crashed on. We were going to watch your brother play the same exact team that those boys were going to play as well. Do you remember now? The road looked as if it was making a T.” The image of the road where all those boys crashed is forever an image engraved in my head. I no longer remember much of what I saw when I went to Humboldt a few years ago, but I will forever vividly remember that road.
After pondering and questioning why God did what he did, the only conclusion I could come to was that God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. A bus for a team should be a safe space. It is certainly a space that most student and junior athletes take for granted. It’s on coach buses that I remember some of the best moments of my life; for two years, consecutively, I have celebrated winning a national championship with my team on an overnight bus trip back from the national hockey tournament. I could not imagine the overwhelming amounts of love, dedication, and passion being taken away from us in a moments notice.
This crash not only made me think of what my brother’s fate could’ve been, but it also made me think of what mine could easily be too. Being able to hug my brother for the first time since hearing about the crash is something I will never take for granted again. I will never hang up the phone with my family members and best friends without saying, “I love you,” first. I never want to end on bad terms with anyone. Your whole world can change in the blink of an eye, so I have learned to never forget to tell people how much they mean to you, chase after your dreams at full speed, don’t take for granted everything this life gives, and lastly, no matter who you are, what you say or believe, each and every single one of you is loved by so many, and more than you will ever know.