Powell River Kings are looking to billet four more players.
Aaron Reid, the BC Hockey League team’s billet coordinator, said the experience for her has been deeply rewarding, helping form almost familial relationships with the players who have stayed with her. She said she has been working for months to house 25 players and the team still needs commitment from some qathet region families to take in the remaining billets.
“It’s not a babysitting gig,” said Reid. “They need a private bedroom, they need a dresser or closet, and if they could have a television in their room, that would be great, but it’s not a necessity.
“Honestly, the boys aren’t around a lot. People don't have to get them to and from any of their events or the recreation complex. Some of the boys have their own cars and some don’t. My two were picked up by another player this morning. So, it's not on the billet family to provide transportation or monitor curfew or anything like that. The team takes care of all that.”
Reid said the big thing is having food in the house because the boys like to eat, given the amount of energy they expend on a daily basis.
This hockey season, Reid has worked extensively with players and families to find the best matches. She said she had players and billet families fill out questionnaires in advance of placement so she could come up with the best fits.
“Every player has a different personality and every family has a different personality,” said Reid. “Obviously, a younger player would probably need a little bit more family guidance than an older player. Then, some boys are just more independent than others.
“Sometimes in the past, you'd end up with a player who's allergic to dogs and was placed with a host with dogs, or a player who’s allergic to cats and the host had cats. There might be a player who’s really keen on becoming more entrenched with his billet family, and you might have a player who’s just wanting to have some alone time when he's at the house. So, I've been trying to match those up as best I can, so that it's a good experience for everybody.”
Reid said returning players generally go back to the same billet home, and this year, there were not any issues with somebody saying, “we don't like that kid.”
The first thing they say is: “we want our player back,” which is always a good sign, she added.
Reid said strong bonds are frequently formed between players and their billet families. It has certainly happened with Reid’s family and their billets.
She said Anthony Lucarelli, the Kings’ team captain this year, is one of her family’s billets and he was their first billet three seasons ago.
“I cried the first year when he left because he's just like one of my kids now,” said Reid. “Through his career we have tried to provide a sense of family and a safe place to be, and we've made really good connections with all our three billets. With all three of them, we've made good connections with their families as well.”
Reid said that with their other billet this year, Adam Mendelson, his parents are coming in October from Montreal, and her family is already planning out Mendelson’s family time here.
“They're excited to come and they're just part of the family,” she added.
Reid said the decision in her case to become a billeting family was made very quickly.
“It was a Friday night that I called a family meeting because it was important that the whole family was on board,” said Reid. “A player was coming into our house if we agreed and was going to be part of our family. The decision was quickly made and my whole family now loves it.
“The players are happy to be supported and have a safe place to be. For us, it’s important to watch the players grow and progress. There’s a real energy in the house when they are here.”
The Kings have rules for the players, curfews, and a code of conduct they must follow, so Reid said the players are invariably well-behaved.
In terms of monetary support for billeting families, the Kings provide $500 a month per player in grocery gift cards to help keep the players fed. Billeting families also receive a family set of season’s tickets to games and a discount on Kings’ merchandise.
There are several ways that parties interested in billeting to make contact with Reid. People can go to the website at powellriverkings.com/billeting for more information.
“There’s a bunch of different information there for people to look up,” said Reid.
There is a billeting family application form on the webpage that can be filled out, as well as frequently asked questions.
“The form gives us some more information so that we can try and match the kids up better.”
Reid can also be contacted directly at email@example.com or call 604.414.5195.
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