Hundreds of mourners, many wearing the Humboldt Broncos colours of green and gold, attended the funeral Thursday for the team’s play-by-play announcer who also coached in the community.
Tyler Bieber, 29, was one of 16 people — including 10 players — who died after the team’s bus and a transport truck collided Friday at a rural intersection north of Tisdale, Sask.
Bieber, who coached high school football and basketball, was in his first year doing play-by-play for the team.
Keegan Adair, 14, was one of the honorary pallbearers and was wearing the jersey of the Humboldt high school football team over his suit.
He said the loss of “Coach Bieber” has hurt him and his teammates, but they will focus on happier memories.
“He gave us a pep talk before one game and I had come off the field and my glasses were sideways in my helmet. He found it pretty funny and I just remember afterward him telling me how proud he was of how hard I played,” said Adair.
“It’s difficult to say the least. Everyone’s torn by the whole ordeal. We need to push on and keep going with our everyday lives, but hold on to a lot of the dear things.”
Boyd Henderson and his wife, Irene, said they were longtime Broncos season-ticket holders and wanted to show support for the family and the community.
“We know the family. We know a lot of the players and a lot of players who have played for the Broncos over the years, so we came to support them,” said Henderson, who was wearing a green Saskatchewan Roughriders jersey.
He said the town will survive, although the tragedy “will never go away. We’ll live with it forever. You just don’t get over it.”
His wife said the service was “very emotional … very touching.”
“It’s amazing how the community has pulled together and it’s so close. We’ll get through it.”
A display inside the arena’s lobby featured photos of Bieber, high school coaching playbooks and an homage to his favourite sports teams — most notably the NFL New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady.
Many of those attending wore ribbons of green and gold.
An official with the Broncos issued a statement asking the media not to attend the funeral service.
“A grieving family has asked for absolutely no media coverage of the event,” it said.
“This is an incredibly emotional and trying time for Broncos families.”
Bieber is survived by his mother, father, sister and two brothers.
The service was held on the ice at the Elgar Petersen Arena where the Broncos play their home games.
Services for home-town boy Jacob Leicht, who played left wing, and defenceman Adam Herold of Montmartre, Sask., were scheduled for Friday.
Players on the team were from towns and cities across Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba.