Powell River Kings' billet program builds connections

Hockey team relies on community to host out-of-town players

As a new Powell River Kings hockey season is about to begin, the organization is in need of more families to billet players. Currently the club is seeking families for nine players, according to director of marketing and business operations Nadine Porchetta. 

“Host families that open their homes and hearts to Powell River Kings play a vital role in our organization’s success on and off the ice,” said Porchetta.

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The perks of billeting go way beyond season tickets for family members; it’s a great way to give back to the community, according to Sarah Peters, whose family has hosted billets for the past eight years.

“It’s been great for our family,” she said. “We have three boys who love hockey and really look up to all these players.” 

Peters said she first became involved because the team was short on billeting families. 

“The coach at the time kept bugging us to take a billet,” she added. “So by the end of the week I thought, ‘Why not ?’” 

She spent the following week turning her children’s playroom into a bedroom and from that time on, the family has not stopped billeting.

For the parents of the young athletes who travel to Powell River, often living away from their home for the first time, knowing their child has a stable and caring home environment is huge.

“From a parent's perspective it’s a lot of peace of mind to know they’re in a good home,” said Shauna Glasman, whose son Levi moved to Powell River and stayed with the Schmunk family. “Billet families make or break an experience for a lot of players,” she added. ”If they’re in a home where they feel comfortable: a good, safe environment and they’re well looked after, it’s an integral part of their development and mental health.”

In Shauna’s case, she said Levi lucked out to be placed with the Schmunks, whose son Ethan also plays on the team. 

“They went above and beyond,” added Shauna, “They took him in and treated him as one of their own.”

This year, Levi will return to play with the Kings and live with the Schmunks again, said his billet family mother, Tara Schmunk. She and her family have been hosting players for the past 15 years, since her chiildren were two and four years old.

“They were all amazing role models for our kids,” said Tara. “It was a great experience for my two kids to grow up with that. It was always a dream of Ethan’s to be one of those boys and he accomplished it.” 

Connections billeting families make span the continent and can last a lifetime. 

“We’ve met some amazing families all over North America,” said Tara. “Some of the boys are getting married now, because we’ve been billeting for so long.” 

Peters said her family’s previous billets have also come from a variety of locations.

“We’ve had a player from as far as Texas and as close as Vancouver,” she added.  

Porchetta’s family hosts players as well and regularly communicates with former billets.

“I still talk to all of my past billets on a regular basis,” said Porchetta. “They have become a part of our family.”

The team has been fortunate to have many dedicated families who have taken in athletes for up to 20 years, according to Porchetta. Many of those people are now retiring from the program and there is a need for new families to get involved. 

“These people enable a player to pursue their hockey dream not simply by providing them with a place to live, but enabling an environment in which the player can thrive physically, academically and emotionally,” said Porchetta.

Host families play a big part in helping a young person achieve goals, said Peters.

“We have had the best player and the one fighting for a spot,” she added. “No matter who they are, at the end of the day they are someone’s kid and need a family that cares.”

For more information, contact Porchetta at nadine@powellriverkings.com.

 
Copyright © Powell River Peak

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