Saskatchewan

Canadian golfers honour Humboldt Broncos at LPGA event in Regina

Alena Sharp didn't grow up in Saskatchewan, but the Hamilton, Ontario-native is honouring the Humboldt Broncos team this week at the LPGA CP Women’s Open.

Alena Sharp had a custom golf bag made in the green and yellow colours of the Broncos

Alena Sharp and her caddy Sarah Bowman designed a golf bag to honour the Humboldt Broncos at the CP Women's Open in Regina. (Kirk Fraser/CBC News)

Alena Sharp didn't grow up in Saskatchewan, but the Hamilton, Ontario-native is honouring the Humboldt Broncos team this week at the LPGA CP Women's Open with a custom-made green-and-yellow golf bag.

"It doesn't matter where we play, it just feels like your hometown. I wanted to do something for the community, and I think giving back and being on this platform as an LPGA Tour player, it was just something I could do to help," she said.

In April, 16 people died and 13 others were injured when the bus carrying the Broncos to a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoff game in Nipawin, Sask. collided with a semi trailer.

The crash drew worldwide attention. A GoFundMe page set up for the affected raised more than $15 million in 12 days.

'Proud to be Canadian'

Sharp said it was "unbelievable" how a hockey team from a small town in Saskatchewan got so much attention. She said the way the world came together made her "proud to be Canadian, even though it was a tragedy."

She said she felt a personal connection to the crash as she has an aunt and cousins living in the province and also grew up playing hockey.

"I've been on a lot of buses going to hockey tournaments. I kind of have been there done that," she said. "What happened just still makes me… it makes my skin crawl."

Sharp's caddy Sarah Bowman came up with the idea for the bag design. Along with the green and yellow Broncos colours, the bag has Humboldt Strong written on the bottom and a Broncos logo towel.

Alena Sharp's bag is green and yellow for the broncos and features the team logo and the words Humboldt Strong. (Kirk Fraser/CBC News)

"We knew we were going to be here ... we just wanted to do something special," said Sharp.

The Broncos thanked Sharp in a tweet Wednesday.

"Continued gestures of support like this mean so much to us. They infuse our organization with even more strength and determination than you realize. Thank you," it read.

A tweet from Troy Leicht, who says their family lost friends in the crash, said "You have no idea how much your Broncos golf bag means to us."

'It's such a great idea'

The opening round of the tournament isn't until Thursday, but already the bag has grabbed the attention of other Canadian golfers, including 20-year-old golf phenom Brooke Henderson, who said the bag is "amazing."

Canadian caddies and golfers donned green and gold ribbons to honour the Broncos at the Lotte Championship in Hawaii in April. (Harry How/Getty Images)

"Alena was telling me about it earlier this summer that they were going to get that bag...it's such a great idea," she said.

Henderson won her sixth LPGA Title in Hawaii at the Lotte Championship in April. She dedicated the win to the Broncos. The week of the championship, Canadian golfers and their caddies wore green and gold ribbons to honour the Broncos.

"Humboldt has been in our thoughts and prayers throughout the whole year," Henderson said.

"I think we are always thinking about them."

Henderson said she too grew up playing hockey and knows how close team's like Broncos get during the season.

"It's very tragic and I'm very sorry they all had to go through that," she said.

'A good reminder to stay in the moment'

Saskatoon-native Anna Young, who will be making her LPGA debut at the CP Women's Open this week, has direct connections to Humboldt. Her mom grew up in the small town and her uncle used to play for the Broncos.

Young said she is honoured to see Sharp's bag on the course only two hours away from where the tragedy happened.

"Her bag looks awesome, I'm so pumped she will be playing with that this week," she said.

Sharp said the bag is drawing attention for the right reasons.

"I don't see it as a negative distraction, I see it as a good thing," she said.

"We're just playing golf, it's a game. I think (the bag) is a good reminder to stay and in moment and just enjoy."

Sharp says when the tournament wraps up on Sunday, the bag will be donated to the local Jim Pattison Children's Hospital Foundation so it can stay in Saskatchewan "where it belongs."

now