For many young hockey players looking to play at the junior level, leaving home and moving in with a new family can be a very big adjustment. Billet families accepting young men into their homes also experience these changes, with those players becoming big commitments in their lives.
The importance of billets, however, is undeniable as they play a life long role in the development and maturity of players.
The Steinbach Pistons recruit players from all around the country and south of the border to play hockey, and like so many other Junior A hockey programs, the Pistons rely heavily on their billet community.
One such billet family are the Loewens. Alysia and Colin have been billeting Pistons players for the past three years. This past year, the family billeted goaltender Roman Bengert and forward Jack Johnson.
Alysia and her family always entertained the notion of one day billeting a Pistons player, but it was a comment from a friend that made her and her husband decide to start billeting.
“We had one person make a comment to us about thinking ahead to if our kids would need to billet one day. What kind of home would we want them to stay in? Well we would want for them what we have here at home.”
“We would want that family oriented home, where everyone would be together, doing things together,” explains Alysia. “We would want that for our kids and chances are there are other people out there who are wanting the same thing for their kids as well.”
Billet families like the Loewens are the strong foundational support that Junior A players need when continuing their hockey careers far from home. They play an essential role in providing players a place to escape from the rink where they feel comfortable and at home.
“We have found it to be an extremely rewarding, positive experience for our entire family,” continues Alysia. “Our kids look forward to having the players come to our home. They play floor hockey in the basement together and play hockey on the outdoor rink. The relationships between our children and the players last a very long time.”
The relationships created through billeting are the biggest takeaways for billets and players, as their relationships remain close. The Loewens were able to reconnect with one of their former billets, Cole Smith, now a member of the University of North Dakota’s Men’s Hockey team, this summer.
“Cole Smith was our first player that we had, and just over the May long weekend, both our families got together and spent time with each other,” Alysia added.
For families who are interested in billeting but aren’t quite sure if they should, Alysia’s advice would be to go for it! “If you’re willing to sacrifice some of your own space, time and things to invest in someone else’s life, those kind of investments will find you far greater satisfaction than living your own.”
“That’s a message that we try to pass on to our children too,” she said. “When you invest your love, time and energy into others, it is far more rewarding than living life selfishly.”
The Pistons have been very fortunate to have such a strong billet community that cares deeply about our players well being. We would like to thank all our billets for the amazing support that they provide our organization and players.
The Pistons are always looking to add more families to our billet community. If you and your family are interested, contact Pistons Billet Coordinator Janice Fender at 204-326-4878 or 204-392-5309 for more information.