Dayna Brons' eulogy was presented at her funeral by Curtis Strueby and is a part of the Humboldt Broncos memorial page with permission from her family.
For those of you who do not know me, my name is Curtis Strueby and I had the pleasure of teaching and coaching Dayna during her time spent at Lake Lenore School. I also have known Dayna her entire life as her family are part of the community of Marysburg, as am I.
Lyle, Carol and family – let me start by saying thank you. This is a tremendous honour to be up here today sharing these few words about Dayna.
I would like to start by saying a few words on behalf of Lyle, Carol and family. They want to extend their sincerest thank yous to the first responders, the hospital staff, the social workers, STARS ambulance, the therapy dogs, the housekeeping staff at RUH, the security, and absolutely everyone involved in this tragic event. They want to address the incredible jobs done by all and acknowledge how professional and compassionate everyone was. They would also like to extend their deepest condolences to all the families involved. The Brons family has also asked us to make sure we all continue to think of the surviving players involved in the crash as they continue to heal both physically and emotionally during this difficult time.
Dayna was born on May 21st, 1993 to Lyle and Carol Brons. She took all her schooling in Lake Lenore. It was here she was very active in not only athletics, but all the school had to offer such as drama, choir, playing the saxophone in band, and the SRC.
I had a chance to sit down with the Brons family, and Brenden and his parents a few nights ago. They had a number of good stories regarding Dayna that I would like to share with you.
The first story comes from Dayna’s good friend Savanna Sarauer. When Dayna and Savanna were only four years old, they found a litter of kittens on the Brons farm. They figured out a not so great idea on how to keep the cats from running away. They ended up locking the kittens in various drawers in the Brons family camper. It was all fun and games until they accidentally somehow locked the mother in the icebox. Instead of going to ask for help, they just decided they would not say anything at all. Carol went in the camper later that day and heard a cat meowing. She opened up the fridge and the cat came shooting out. She kept hearing meowing so she started searching, opening up the drawers and finding all the kittens. Needless to say it was a mess, and the camper ended up being completely disinfected. The worst part is that according to Dayna, ‘it was all Savanna’s idea!’
When asked about Dayna, Carol made a mention of her big brown eyes and how she always referred to her as her brown eyed girl. She said they were always wide open and never lost their sparkle. Carol’s other nickname for her was pumpkin, due to the fact she was quite jaundiced right after she was born. She said from the beginning that she was cheerful as a baby and only cried when she wanted something and couldn’t communicate it. Lyle and Carol stated she was always helpful as a kid and wanted to help in any way. Often times she was right behind Carol hand scrubbing the floor when she was really young, or as she got older arguing with Eric as to who was going to drive the combine.
The family made mention that Dayna often talked in her sleep when she was younger in a rather stern tone. Often times she would be yelling NO at Dustin and in later years, it was NO at Savanna. I think this may be one of the few times I have heard that Dayna was actually mad. Apparently, she had no filter when she was sleeping!
This story has a bit of a different tone but, it is one the family still tells after all these years. Dustin made mention that one day he was out in the yard when he was roughly eight years old throwing a ball up to himself and hitting it. Well apparently, Dayna ran behind Dustin at one point when Dustin was in mid swing. His follow through connected with her forehead unfortunately. He said Dayna didn’t even go down. She ran to the house and her and Carol were out of the yard on the way to the hospital before he even knew what had happened. The end result was five stitches and a lifelong scar on Dayna’s forehead.
An interesting story about a new roommate was also shared with me. Apparently, one evening at the house on the farm Dayna stumbled upon a spider. Most people would dispose of the spider in a hurry. Dayna, being the kind - hearted soul she was, did not. She, in fact, named him Frank, called him her roommate and let him live. Oblivious to all of this, Eric came home one day and found Frank in the tub. He quickly washed Dayna’s roommate down the drain. As time went on, Dayna mentioned that Frank was missing. Eric asked, who is Frank? She said the spider roommate I have. Eric looked at her and confessed his deadly sin. Eric said after Dayna had passed last week he went home and was about to jump in the shower. He looked in the tub and saw a spider. He said he looked at that spider and instantly thought it was sign from Dayna.
Brenden’s mom made mention that Dayna was always so prim and proper. Brenden’s dad joked that Dayna was his favorite child. I guess she was always helping him out in times of need. Like the time he bought a shotgun and no one could figure out how to put it together. Well, in walked Dayna, and helped him. He said in no time it was done. He also mentioned one time his vehicle had a dead battery in Yorkton. Dayna was able to not only help him boost it, but explain how it all worked!!
Brenden shared that him and Dayna did not start dating in a very conventional way. They had met through a mutual friend by the name of Brianne. She proceeded to ignore him for four long months. He finally got her number and texted her. She said, sure come on over. This meant hang out and you can sleep on the couch. He left the next day and eventually his roommate invited them over to watch a movie. He finally got enough courage to ask her out on a date for sushi. It was at this first date that Brenden made the bold move to ask her to officially go out with him. Brenden said it was a very hesitant, OK. From that point on, Dayna’s OK answer turned into a more convincing conviction!
Brenden, I give you credit. That was a bold move.
There are a couple things about Dayna that few people knew. She volunteered her time working with Morgan Berscheid at Hilda home here in Humboldt. She consistently donated blood without telling people.
The family also said this about Dayna. She always made people feel calm and loved. Being an athletic therapist, this should not be a surprise to anyone. Those are two traits you must have to work in that profession. This does not mean Dayna was sometimes affected by what she had to do. I have been told there was times Dayna would be upset by some of the injuries she had to help treat. This simply shows how much Dayna cared about her job, and more importantly, those players she looked after.
Dayna was able to make friends in all aspects of life. The family said they were so proud of her because she was able to befriend people no matter what she was doing. She had her band friends. She had her fastball friends. She had her sports teams and school friends. No matter what Dayna was taking part in, she was always able to treat people in a friendly manner, and because of this she had many positive connections.
Dayna’s relationship with her dog is also well known. Lyle and Carol did not have a dog when Dayna moved back home to work. After a year of pleading, they caved and Dayna got her dog and named him Butch. Dayna would take Butch with her to work when she didn’t have a full day and the players loved it. Butch would follow Dayna into the room and race back and forth over the logo on the floor. Now everyone knows you don’t step on the logo but Butch didn’t seem to care. In fact, when he was done running around he sat on that logo and no one could get him off.
Dayna also had a job with the Saskatoon SWAT Lacrosse team. I reached out to Dayna’s friend, Neal Demmans who had supervised Dayna and was her mentor as he prepared her for the accreditation exam. Neal was with the Broncos as their athletic therapist and when he moved on from Humboldt gave Dayna’s name to Darcy Haugen as a possible replacement. Darcy obviously hired Dayna for the job.
Neal had a couple stories he would like to share. He said while he was employed with the SWAT, he brought Dayna in to show her the ropes. Before Dayna was there he said the boys were always whining that they were hurt. When Dayna came in, all of a sudden there happened to be a lot less injuries. He said the boys were ‘scared’ of the girl, however, it did not take long and the boys really warmed up to her and included her as part of their lacrosse family.
The other story Neal shared was one time they were in Edmonton for lacrosse games. He got back to the hotel and the coaches were in the lobby laughing and making fun of Dayna in a good natured way. Apparently, there had been a fight in the game and a mother of the opposing team came over to the bench to confront some players. The coaches were bugging Dayna saying they thought they saw her head butt her. Of course, they were making this all up.
However, this just goes to show how they respected Dayna. They were able to bug her in a joking fashion and Dayna simply laughed it off.
When Eric called me and asked me to do this, I obviously said yes. After I hung up the phone, I immediately started thinking about a few things about Dayna while she was in school. In talking with some of our staff at Lake Lenore School we all agreed on the same thing, Dayna as a student was to put it simply, easy to work with in the classroom and outside it. She was very well behaved. She was willing to help when asked, and as she got older you didn’t even have to ask her anymore, she simply offered. Dayna was always often seen with a smile on her face, but at the same time, when it came down to having to work hard, that smile disappeared and she took care of the task at hand to the best of her ability. She was positive, humble, and did not seek attention whatsoever. She was dependable, respectful, coachable, approachable, a good athlete, and loved sports.
In Lake Lenore, we have had past teachers who worked with Dayna send their condolences and express how they enjoyed her as a student. Also, a number of coaches and teachers from around the province have reached out to me over the last week. Some remembered Dayna as an athlete. Some asked what she was like. Every time I heard that question I gave this answer – Dayna was the student athlete that coaches rely on. Those that are unsung heroes. She was a good athlete and student, with a strong work ethic. She lead by example and was willing to make personal sacrifices for the good of the team. Every single coach has athletes like this on their team. And all coaches and teachers appreciate the type of student, athlete and person Dayna was. When I gave that answer to the various people I talked to - every one of them said – I know exactly what you are talking about.
I mentioned Dayna was an unsung hero as an athlete. I think this carries over into the profession Dayna chose. Athletic therapists are often referred to as just that. They do a lot of work that no one notices unless you are directly involved with them team. I can’t help but think that Darcy, Mark, Chris, and the entire Bronco team thought of her the same way I did. They appreciated absolutely everything she did. She did not do the work for attention. She did the work because she loved it and she loved being part of that team. She always loved being part of a team.
I also mentioned Dayna put personal preferences aside for the good of the team. Here is the ultimate example of this. In her grade 12 year, we had a good basketball team in Lake Lenore. We were quite deep with all players buying into their roles. Throughout the season, I kind of rotated one or two girls into and out of the starting lineup, looking for that right mix to get a good start to games. Dayna was starting and then we went to a tournament in Warman. Dayna had to miss this tournament due to a school band trip. It was at that tourney where I inserted another girl into the starting lineup. We had a really good weekend there and I made the tough decision to stick with the same starters. Things kept going well for us so I did not want to change anything. This is not to say Dayna did not play. She played quite a bit as I went to her a lot off the bench. However, here is a girl, in her grade 12 year, who did not get to start for the last two months of her high school basketball career, even though she had started the previous year and half. Dayna did not complain once to me. Not once. She continued to work hard in practice. She was a very valuable member of that team. We made it all the way to Hoopla that year and a big reason was Dayna. She had every right to be upset with me. However, she knew it would not be good for the team. Before the bronze medal game at Hoopla that year, I told her she was going to start. It was her last game ever, and she had earned that right. She made a point of thanking me and so did her mother, Carol. I will never forget that. They thanked me for starting her in that game. They had every right to be mad with me, but they weren’t.
One other quick story about Dayna in reference to doing what is best for the team. The previous year we had a really young team. Dayna was one of two grade 11’s and we only had one grade 12. The rest were in grade 9 and 10. I started Dayna that year. She was our starting post player. Now anyone who knows basketball knows that in general post players are taller and physically bigger. We all know Dayna was not big at all. We were not a big team so I told Dayna she will be starting in a position she had never played before. I remember her looking at me in disbelief and she laughed. I told her I was serious. Well that laugh turned to a look of – ‘OK I better do this.’ And she did. She did all year long without complaining once. She took a beating throughout that year (there was a black eye or two as I recall) matching up against teams bigger players. She handled herself very well. Again – not one complaint. Not one.
I also mentioned before she had a great work ethic. By the time she hit grade 12, that work was really paying off as she started to add a scoring touch to her already well rounded game. You know that secondary scoring that coaches in all team sports talk about – well Dayna provided that. Again – another aspect of an unsung hero. After her Grade 12 year was over Wade Weseen (my assistant coach) and I were talking one day. I will never forget what he told me – he said that those two grade 12 players, Dayna and April, really stepped up their game and became big - time players. That conversation sticks with me to this very day, because that is what you hope student athletes can do. Grow as players that you can rely on and ultimately transfer that into whatever path they choose to take and become successful people. Dayna did just that. From a coach’s point of view, Dayna was definitely a success story.
Dayna also took part in soccer and track and field. I coached her in track. Again, she was always a hard worker and took part to the best of her ability. Dayna was always so close to making track provincials in the hurdles. She finished third in hurdles in her grade 12 year (the top two make provincials). I remember talking to her after. She was, of course, disappointed, however I told her she ran the best race she possibly could have. She knew that and once again, she did not complain. There was no excuses made. I can’t help but think that on that day, Dayna realized that giving your absolute best effort is truly, in the end all that matters. And she did precisely that.
I did not coach Dayna in soccer so I reached out to her high school coach, Humboldt resident, Andre Kruger. Andre said what everyone else has said about Dayna. She was always smiling, giving 110%, no matter what she was asked to do, she did it. She never complained and was a quiet unassuming role model. He also said, this past fall he brought his grandson into the rink here in Humboldt. Dayna was there and walked up to him, smiling of course, and gave him a hug. That sums up Dayna perfectly.
Dayna also loved the game of fastball. She played for over ten years, beginning in Lake Lenore before moving on to teams in Humboldt, as she got older. The positive effect she had is very apparent, as there are a number of past teammates and coaches here today. She was very adept at the game, which was evident to me when we would play our slo - pitch softball games in physed class in June at the end of every school year.
Dayna also played hockey for six years in Lake Lenore as well as danced as a member of the Lake Lenore School of Dance for many years. There is a good story Lyle told about Dayna involving hockey and dance. There happened to be a dance competition in Rose Valley one weekend that Dayna was involved in. Well it just so happens Dayna’s hockey team also had a tournament in nearby Kelvington that same weekend. Dayna finished dancing and then Carol hurriedly grabbed her and drove her to Kelvington for their game. They got there a little bit late, but in time to play. Dayna skated to the bench and her coach, Kerry Haeusler looked at her and burst out laughing. Here Dayna had her full makeup on yet from the dance competition on underneath her helmet. Needless to say, that would have been hilarious to see!
After Dayna graduated, she moved on to post - secondary school. She took her first year at St. Peter’s College in Muenster and then moved to Regina and attended the U of R for three years. She then took one year at Mount Royal College in Calgary.
When she was finished with her post - secondary studies she eventually made her way back to this area and began working with the Broncos two years ago and the Saskatoon Swat Lacrosse team at the beginning of last season. When she was hired by the Broncos, Carol texted me and told me. I read the story on Discover Humboldt and was obviously happy. Any teacher/coach will tell you that they are always happy to see past students have success in the next phase of their lives and this was certainly the case. I texted Dayna to congratulate her. She replied and it was obvious she was very excited and appreciative for the opportunity to begin to do what she truly loved to do.
The Broncos – I know the Broncos had a special place in Dayna’s heart and vice versa. The relationship was evident as a story the family and the media have mentioned indicates. When the Broncos were on the road and eating in restaurants a number of them would often tell the restaurant staff that it was Dayna’s birthday. Well we all know what happens then. They staff comes out and sings happy birthday to that person, in this case Dayna, and gives her a free dessert. It’s usually quite the scene and often embarrassing to the person involved. The joke was on them though, as Dayna would inform the restaurant staff that it was not her birthday and then some of the boys would have to end up paying for the dessert. This simply goes to show that team treated Dayna like one of their own.
Apparently, Dayna had a positive effect on some young fans. A billet mom who sits behind the Broncos bench with her two daughters said that her daughters told her they don’t want to be hockey players when they get older – they want to be Dayna. What a profound statement that is.
I mentioned I had known Dayna throughout her entire life, as she was part of the Marysburg community. The Dayna we knew in Marysburg was the same girl I have been telling you about. She was easy going and always willing to volunteer her time. She was a member of the Regional Choir when her time would allow her to be. She was active in our church as an altar server for many years. In fact, there were not too many kids left her age in Marysburg as she was growing up. I think she had to serve every Sunday for five years straight. Just recently, Dayna was in church one Sunday and sang in the choir. After mass, everyone was talking and I had tried to make it a point to ask her how things were going. However, I became sidetracked and didn’t get around to it. I remember thinking, oh well, next time. Looking back, I really wish I would have asked her.
Dayna – I know I can speak on behalf of all your past teachers, coaches and all who worked with you and say we all appreciate having the chance to know you. We as teachers and coaches, have a connection with our student athletes quite like no other. We love each kid we work with and Dayna you were no exception. Thank you Dayna for letting us be a small part of your life. We truly appreciate it.
As I sat with the family, the love they all shared for Dayna was evident.
Brent and Arlene - I was so impressed with the kind words you said about Dayna and the fond memories you shared with everyone. The strong bond you had developed with her over the years will forever be with you.
Katelyn and Dee – it was very apparent the love for Dayna you have developed since you have been a part of this family. You spoke very fondly of Dayna and I know she loved you dearly.
Brenden – You obviously made Dayna incredibly happy. The relationship you two had was more than special. The memories, stories, and laughs you shared while reminiscing shone a bright light on a difficult time. I know Dayna was smiling down on us, laughing with us while you shared your thoughts and stories.
Eric I know the night before the day of the accident you were downstairs playing Mario Kart with Dayna, having a great time laughing and having fun. You were laughing so much that Carol even asked Lyle, what could they possibly be laughing at? As hard as it may be, I hope you can cherish that last evening with Dayna and the fact that you had such a good time together.
Dustin you had said you and Dayna had a special bond. You were constantly in the yard kicking a ball around and/or playing catch or challenging each other to see who could rap the lyrics to a certain song the best. I hope you can take pride in the fact you had those moments with your sister and cherish those memories for the rest of your life.
Janelle - the fact that you, your mom, and Dayna took that special trip together to Montreal for Dayna’s accreditation exam is something I hope you can hold dear to your heart. Those memories of that trip will last a lifetime and will be with your forever. You also mentioned you had intense Mario Kart games over the years. Whether you won or lost those games doesn’t matter, but the memories you have do.
Lyle and Carol – I know you know this, but Dayna loved you. It is very apparent that all of the positive qualities Dayna possessed as a person came from you. There is no doubt you did a great job in raising her and should be very proud of what Dayna had accomplished in her short time with us. She was a beautiful young woman who touched so many lives in a profoundly positive way. The love and support you provided her is certainly evident. I think I can say that on behalf of everyone who was a part of Dayna’s life, we would like to thank you for doing such an amazing job raising the beautiful young woman Dayna had become.
In closing, I have mentioned throughout all of this that Dayna was always an ‘unsung hero.’ Well there is one story that contradicts this. The amazing thing about this – Dayna never bothered to tell her family. Dayna was in grade 10. We had a good basketball team during that year with a large contingent of grade 12 players. That team was getting noticeably better as the year went on. We were going into the playoff season on a hot streak. I guess you could say the girls were peaking at the right time. We were in Tisdale playing conference playoffs, which is the first step on the road to Hoopla. We were playing Middle Lake in the final. Middle Lake had had our number that year defeating us five times. However like I said, the girls were playing well. It was a tie game near the end of the game. We had a couple girls who had fouled out with only a few seconds left. I therefore went to Dayna, who had not played much. We had possession and inbounded the ball. The ball made its way to Dayna who immediately went to dribble. She was fouled with no time left on the clock. We were in bonus, which means she was to shoot two foul shots. If she hits one, we win. Here is this kid in grade 10, a rookie about to take the team’s biggest shots of the season with a full gym watching. She missed the first shot. She then regrouped and took the second shot. It went in. Our girls went crazy. It was an incredibly satisfying moment. She was so happy and the girls were too. Dayna, on that day, you were indeed, the HERO.