As the Columbia Valley Rockies hockey program prepares for their upcoming summer camp, the team is on the hunt for billet homes to house players throughout the season. Each year the team looks to the community to support their program in a unique way by providing homes for up to 20 players and this season is no exception.
“Because of the midget program in Invermere, it’s shared with Golden so there’s not a huge amount of midget level players progressing to junior from the local town. Therefore a lot of the players that we sign are from Alberta because we’re close to the border,” said Rockies president Graeme Anderson.
According to Mr. Anderson, without families to look after the players, they can’t put the team on the ice that they would like to. For the Hann family, becoming a billet family came after their two sons moved away from home. Missing having teenage boys around, Cheri and her husband Ken decided to support the local hockey program and get a billet.
“All the boys that I’ve ever met that have come to the house, they’re just all really good kids, that they’re here just trying to stay busy or develop to move on to the next level but they’re all trying to further their sport,” said Mrs. Hann.
Having had four billets over the past two years, she said the most rewarding part of the experience has been the connections their family has developed with each billet and their families back home.
“All four of the billets we’ve been really close with. Two of them when they left I actually took a day off work. I couldn’t work; I was heart broken they were leaving,” said Mrs. Hann.
This year will be a first for the Hann family as they will have their billet Cooper Krauss returning for a second season as their billet.
“His room’s ready, I’ve got groceries for him. We’re ready for him to come anytime,” said Mrs. Hann.
While every family is unique Mrs. Hann said the players are quick to adapt and blend into the family, crediting family dinners for strengthening their relationship with each billet.
“It started with eating dinner with us and that was the only time we would really visit was at the dinner table. So the dinner table every day just kind of became ‘how was your day, what’s new and he’d tell us a little about himself. Just having dinner together every day is what started the relationship and then we would, of course, go watch his hockey games,” said Mrs. Hann.
Once Cooper was comfortable with his billet family he began opening up more and more often chatting to Mr. Hann after the game. The family makes an effort to attend the games to support their billet and be able to connect through the game with the athletes.
“It’s literally like watching my son play hockey you know. It’s like we’re so excited to be there and support him so we really enjoy going to watch him,” said Mrs. Hann.
Billet families for the Columbia Valley Rockies receive free seasons pass for every family member living in the home as well as $550 a month.
The Rockies require billet homes to enforce the team curfew and to either make dinner every night for them or have dinner available. Mrs. Hann is hoping to see more families get involved with supporting the local hockey club this season. To get involved as a billet home email firstname.lastname@example.org.