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  • Angela Mouly

Ryan Straschnitzki Delivers Powerful Message In Mannville

Updated: Dec 6, 2022


One of the Kitscoty U9 teams with Ryan Straschnitzki in Mannville. Photos submitted

Humbolt Broncos survivor, Ryan Straschnitzki, shared tips to keep the right mindset amidst adversity with several teams during Hockey Day in Mannville on November 5.

Straschnitzki said speaking at the Nashville Predators training camp this July helped his public speaking career take off, as he tries to inspire people and share what he has learned. Having started to play hockey when he was four years old, he continued to work hard and said Jonathan Toews with the Chicago Blackhawks inspired him to get as far as he could with the game.

“Living with a spinal cord injury isn’t easy; you are limited, but over time I’ve gotten better at handling situations like that. I’m a young kid and I have to get my career in check. I have to learn because if I don’t I’m probably not going to get anywhere. You have to grow with everything; in life, sports, a career, etc.,” said Straschnitzki.

The list of encouragement he’s gotten he said could go on forever but the one that resonated with him most was Rick Hansen saying, ‘There’s more to a person than his or her legs.’ Straschnitzki said, “You can be limitless. You can define your course in life, not your injury.”

Chuckwagon members of the WPCA including Kurt Bensmiller helped to raise funds back in 2018 through a sledge hockey game in support of Straschnitzki’s own recovery as well as STARS Air Ambulance. Having been one of the first groups to step up, he said they were the nicest people to join and have kept a bond ever since. Being one of 13 survivors he also said Layne Matechuk was one of his close buddies on the team even prior to the accident.

The Straz Strong Foundation initially began while Ryan was in hospital as a fundraiser for his own rehabilitation needs, but during the pandemic Straschnitzki began raising funds for others with mental and physical disabilities through sports as a way of giving back to the community.


Ryan Straschnitzki enjoying some pond hockey with his family last year.

“It is important to encourage other young athletes because you never know what’s going to happen in life. In reality, life is harsh. You will have to face adversity at one point or other, and it’s good to learn how to handle that as soon as you can. Obviously, you are not going be happy every day, and it’s important to recognize the ups and downs and learn tools to help mitigate those feelings,” said Straschnitzki.

His goals for the future include gaining better efficiency at physiotherapy, and progressing up the ladder in sledge hockey. In the meantime, he enjoys going to the gym and hanging out with friends. Straschnitzki says sledge hockey is the same sport, but tougher because you are using your arms for everything.

“You kind of have to learn to have adaptability; you will have to find alternative ways to get where you want to go. I think the most successful people in the world have adapted, and it’s something everyone can learn from,” said Straschnitzki.

The oldest of four, Straschnitzki said he thinks people want to be leaders in any situation - they can follow and learn from other role models incorporating those traits into their lives. In Mannville, Straschnitzki shared his story and some of the mental habits he has learned throughout his entire career.

“The ability to embrace everyday life (good and bad); to enjoy the process all together helps to make a person successful. At the end of the day, certain things that happen to you are going to stick with you forever. I have to get motivated to reach my goals - whether it’s a good or bad day, I know it’s all a part of the process,” said Straschnitzki. “I think with everything that I do, I am always having fun with it. Sometimes you take life to seriously, but it’s important to enjoy every moment and just have fun with it.”

For more information as well as to donate or arrange speaking engagements you can visit the strazstrongfoundation.com.

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