By Kevin Scott
GREAT FALLS, MT — Junior A Hockey has returned to the Electric City for the 2011-12 season. If you are reading this than you are just as excited about our upcoming season as we are. We hope that you will recognize the many opportunities that come with hosting a Great Falls Americans hockey player. Becoming a host family is a great way to get involved in the community as well as develop some very special bonds with the players and their families.
Host families provide a home away from home for our young athletes. For many of the players, this will be their first time away from home and they will need a stable living environment for their move to Montana. Players on the Americans are between the ages of 15 and 20 with the majority of them being 18 years old. Part of our commitment to our players and their parents is to provide them with a good home. The players often become just like one of the family. These boys come into your lives at an early, impressionable age and leave as young men. Their time with the billet family is a very important time of their lives. They are away from their friends and family, so their billets become their surrogate family. The players arrive from all over the United States in mid to late August and will be here until the end of the hockey season in early April.
When a family volunteers to house a member of the team, they are required to provide room and board for the player. This includes, providing nutritious food that is available for him to prepare or for the billets to prepare for the player. In addition, billets must be able to provide the player with his own room. Billets are expected to treat the players as “one of the family” and not just a “renter”. The same goes for the player, as far as cleaning up after themselves and keeping their room tidy and such. We have team guidelines and policies that will be provided to you, and that the players must abide by to be within our organization. We expect our billet families to uphold and enforce these team rules. All billet house rules will need to be communicated to the player when he arrives. Among some of the benefits of becoming a billet family:
- Each billet family is paid a monthly stipend to house a player in their home of $300.00 per month per each player housed.
- Generally, billets, players and the player’s family will develop a very special bond and remain close long after the player has left the Americans’ organization. We try to make it possible to make sure that this experience is a rewarding one for both the player and the billets.
- Free game tickets are another wonderful benefit of billeting