Sheena Deveau and her family have always been involved with hockey, either playing or watching.
Her grandfather Bob Crawford played for and coached Powell River Regals for years. Her uncle Rob played hockey, as did her cousin Jack Long, whose entire junior career was played with Powell River Kings. Her parents Gord and Ann Marie Milne are huge fans who host billets. Sheena and her husband Zach, who still plays recreational hockey, have attended Kings’ games for years.
Most recently they, along with their two sons, Easton and Arlo, welcomed a Powell River Kings billet into their home.
“We took a few players for training camp a few seasons ago and our kids loved it,” Deveau explained. “It was a taste for us to see how our boys reacted. They loved them. So, knowing our sons really enjoyed it and they are starting hockey themselves, we thought getting a billet would be a good experience.”
Easton will start his second year of hockey this season and Arlo will also play. The boys take CanSkate lessons twice a week. “You don’t learn to skate in hockey, you learn plays and passing so it’s important to learn about using your edges in skating lessons,” said Deveau.
She said the family enjoys making dinner and gathering around the table at night, getting to know the player and having him be a part of the family. “All the other players who came around were great too.”
Deveau recalls a Halloween night when Long and some other players took the boys out trick or treating. “They thought that was the best thing, even more than the candy.”
According to Joe Mastrodonato, interim president and treasurer, there are many key ingredients to the success of any junior hockey team, but none more than the players and billeting families that welcome them in their homes.
“A hockey franchise cannot exist without these two important ingredients,” he explained. “Over the years we have been blessed with many incredible families that have housed our players. Many of us have enjoyed the experience of being a billeting family and have become long-time friends with former players.”
“Our family really enjoyed welcoming a young athlete into our home and look forward to our billet returning in a few weeks,” Deveau said. “It’s nice to have a positive role model in the house for our sons to look up to and to be a part of the hockey community.”
Their billet, Dylan Finlay, called the boys a week or so ago to say he was coming back to stay with them. “The kids were so pumped to hear from him,” Deveau said.
To date, the Kings organization is struggling in finding billeting families to house these athletes.
“This season we have a roster of 23 players who will step onto the ice September 17 in preparation for the new hockey season,” said Mastrodonato. “Four are from the US, including Maxim Potvin, grandson of former NHL player Dennis Potvin. Finding a home for these players is very important for the players’ well-being and their ability to perform at their best on the ice.”
He looks forward to welcoming more families to share the experience of billeting a Kings player.
“Watching our kids look up to the Kings like they are NHL players has been a great experience,” said Deveau. “We recommend billeting to other families.”
For more information on becoming a billet family, readers can contact Chad van Diemen, 604.414.4230; Nadine Porchetta, 604.223.0311; or Brock Sawyer, 604.483.6972.