July 20th, 2018

Logan set fine example

By Yoos, Cam on April 10, 2018.

A ‘Good Sport’ column by Dylan Purcell

Families grieved. A region, a province, a nation and a world which heard about the Humboldt Broncos’ tragedy paid tribute. People waited for word about loved ones, acquaintances or old teammates. Hockey players reflected on hours of travelling buses. Parents kissed, hugged and appreciated their children, again.

Logan Boulet held on. There would be no recovery for him. His family faced a loss few of us could really imagine but Logan Boulet’s body? His heroic beating heart? They had something left to do.

Logan was always a player to put others first. His wants always went last. His high school rugby coach, teacher and friend was Jon Dick. Dick worked at Winston Churchill with Logan’s father Toby – in fact played rugby for Toby at the school. Dick said from the first day of practice, Logan understood that the needs of the team meant more than his own.

“It’s that rare kind of leader that doesn’t need to, that understood you don’t have to be mean, you don’t have to yell in someone’s face.

“He’d rather help out, be that leader who sets an example or encourages. He just understood that and when you know Toby and you know Bernie (Logan’s mother) you can see they’re at the centre of that.”

The news broke Friday night. A hockey team’s bus was involved in a crash. It was the Humboldt Broncos. I had heard Logan Boulet was dinged up at one point in the season, so I checked their roster. I tried to see, to hope, to deny any chance that Logan Boulet could have been on the bus. There was no word. There was no indication from his family that he had been there. I went about my evening, happy to delude myself that the son of Toby and Bernie, Mariko’s brother, was fine.

For Doug Paisley, the weekend events were a horror on many levels. As the owner of a transport company, any highway collision involving a transport truck lodges in his throat. As a long-time rep hockey coach, he’s spent a lifetime on those same buses the Humboldt Broncos use. Worse, he coached Logan Boulet in midget AAA. He knows the Humboldt coaches as contacts, places to send his players after their AAA careers are over. He also coached Ryan Straschnitzki, a player paralyzed in the crash.

“A lot of the same characteristics between those two kids, with Brock and Logan,” said Paisley.

The local community took another hit on Sunday when it was announced that former local minor hockey player, Prince George Cougar and University of Lethbridge Pronghorn Brock Hirsche died because of the cancer that has long been causing him pain and suffering.

“I mean, this is about those two kids and their families, not me, but if there’s one thing they had in common for sure it’s that they were team-first guys. That’s the mark of great players, putting your teammates first and putting others before yourself and that’s what I know about those two guys, for sure,” said Paisley.

Logan Boulet will save lives. Imagine that. He’s only 21, still a kid. Barely old enough to understand the important, critical nature of signing up to be an organ donor, right? For Logan, signing that card was important. He made sure everybody knew he was an organ donor, that he’d gone online and signed up. That he’d offered himself up, so others could have a chance.

“In terms of a school year, you’re looking at teaching around 400 kids, and he was one that stood out,” said Peter Rajic, who taught and coached Logan at G.S. Lakie School. “I got to see him outside of the classroom, too, and saw the joy he took in everything he did. I think that’s what made him unique. To see how loyal he was and how much he enjoyed what he was doing and the friends he had, it made him a special student.”

Recovery for the staff at Winston Churchill, has already begun. Dick was heading to a rugby practice shortly after his interview. He’d have to tell his team, some of whom played with Logan when they were in Grade 9. All of them know Toby.

Dick doesn’t subscribe to the macho creed of no tears. He’ll show his players that it’s OK to hurt and show it. There will be tears, definitely from Dick himself.

“When I talk to my players about what makes a good leader, that’s the guy I’m talking about. Just a solid young man and you saw it every day from him.”

While his friends and coaches thought about this stellar young man, while they coped with the tragedy, Logan’s body was getting ready to save lives. There was breath and blood and work yet to be done. There were people that needed him more.

Logan will save six lives. One already posted on social media accounts. An aunt whose life was chronic, endless pain, said the post, would be made whole again thanks to Logan.

“I’m looking at my bulletin board right now and I’ve got a couple of pictures of him, with that big, wide grin,” said Dick.

Only 21, Logan Boulet’s smile stands out among a team photo of hockey players. It reaches so wide it engulfs his whole face, scrunching up his eyes and pushing his forehead back.

“He was always very motivated, very hard-working,” said Rajic, painting a picture of a student and athlete who didn’t let a moment slip past without seizing it. “I know he’ll be sadly missed by a lot of people who knew him.”

Imagine driving down a Saskatchewan highway and approaching that crash. See the twisted metal, the anguish and the impending shock of wondering if your son is there. I know Toby and Bernie Boulet. I see their expressions of love and admiration for their children and the world around their children.

As the son of teachers, Logan knew that sometimes other students needed his parents more than he did. He saw that example in their endless work, in Toby’s countless hours volunteering for rugby and other sports in high school and at the University of Lethbridge. He used to run around the rink as his dad coached his sister in ringette. More than some others, Logan understood the effort it takes to make a community like the one which has supported him and his Humboldt Bronco teammates.

“We need more kids like that,” said Paisley. “Kids that appreciate and understand the work that goes into being a successful team.”

Want to make a difference? Logan Boulet turned 21, signed up to be organ donor. This was without angst or anxiousness. This was a must. After all, someone might need those organs. Someone might be saved by receiving the gift of life from a young man who was named fittest on his team.

He was Paisley’s defensive stopper, the shotblocker who never complained. The teammate who put his actions ahead of his words.

Success came to Logan at every level he played and in every sport. A couple of high school rugby championships, hockey success both personal and team-wide followed him. Of course, success isn’t measured by wins or losses but your impact on the lives of others. Those stories will pour out in these days. An effusive friend, a loving son and a smiling brother is gone and he will be remembered for the life he lived.

Record numbers of Albertans are signing up to donate their organs. More than a thousand by the most recent count. If each one helps save six lives, as Logan’s has, that’s 6,000 people.

There is no comfort for Logan’s friends and family. There is no solace a former sports columnist can offer that carries any real meaning. I put a hockey stick out on my front porch, a useless expression of my own grief that I hope helps.

But while we all gasped in shock and grief and horror, Logan Boulet’s body was holding on because the man he was made a heroic decision.

His life’s gift doesn’t end with the six people receiving his organs. It carries on in the thousands who will be saved because the rest of us followed the example of a 21-year-old hockey player, a hero, tragically killed in a bus crash.

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