There wasn’t a connection Strasbourg’s Mark Cross couldn’t make.
The 27-year-old Humboldt Broncos assistant coach was killed in last Friday’s bus tragedy, alongside some of his team, on the way to a playoff game in Nipawin.
Scott Golding, Cross’ cousin, said, most of all, he’ll be remembered for how whole-heartedly and effortlessly he touched peoples’ lives.
“His ability to make connections and to grow relationships with people — Mark was absolutely amazing. It’s completely gut wrenching to lose him,” Scott said.
He added Cross was everything a person could ask for in a family member, friend, teammate and coach.
“Everyone said they looked up to him and, I guess — in some respect — I do, too. He was every bit of a person —of a man —I’d like to be,” Scott explained.
Cross’ uncle, Bill Golding, said he was someone anyone could instantly click with, which made him a stellar coach.
“He was very quiet, yet easy to talk to — not reserved or hidden behind anybody, but he didn’t draw attention to himself. He didn’t have to,” Bill explained. “He was a leader, and yet didn’t stand out at being a leader. He was never somebody who had to be barking out orders through his nose; he had a quiet presence about himself that made you want to be around him.”
It didn’t matter whether Cross was talking to a stranger or someone he’s known for years, cousin Scott said there wasn’t a life he didn’t touch.
“He was simply special — in every sense of the word. We’ll always remember him and he’ll always have a part in our lives.”
He ‘always put his family first’
While Cross cherished his friends, teammates and players, his uncle, Earl Golding, said he “always put his family first” — especially after every hockey game he played or coached.
“Whenever he saw me — or anybody — he’d always say, ‘Hey, Uncle Earl! Good to see you, great to see you. Thanks for coming!’ Always with a big smile and big hug,” remembered Earl.
Cousin Scott said he’ll never forget the summers spent in Waskesiu camping and playing their family’s annual “adults against kids” football games. He said there’s a photo of them all from years ago that always takes him back.
“Mark never stood out — even though he might have been younger — he always stood in,” Scott explained. “It’s a beautiful picture because you look at the sizes and how tall everyone is — then there’s Mark, and he’s standing there and he’s tough and he’s strong and he’s proud.”
Leaving behind his high school sweetheart
Along with his huge tight-knit family, Cross’ uncle, Jim Golding, said he leaves behind his high school sweetheart, Molly Schnell.
He said Schnell travelled across the country and back again with Cross — just so he could follow his dreams of being a hockey coach in his home province.
“Mark was just crazy in love with Molly. We went to their Grade 12 graduation and there they were, and then they both packed their bags and (Cross’ mom and dad) drove them out to find a place in Toronto. They were a team like no other,” Jim explained. “They both then convocated with kinesiology degrees and then they moved back to Saskatchewan together.”
Cousin Scott echoed those sentiments, saying the couple had “a wonderful, pure love.”