Chainsaws? Zombies? They’ve got nothing on what hockey billet families fear most. Billet coordinators face some tough (and real) concerns from the community members they ask to house incoming hockey players. Here’s how you can help put minds at ease.
- Share player details. Most hockey teams gather information from incoming players to help match them with the right billet family. Ironically, they largely neglect to give this information to the billet hosts. Create a flow of information between team communications, the billet coordinator, billet hosts, and bio families so no one is left in the dark. Share what you know about players before final billet assignments are made, and certainly before the players arrive.
- Be specific about costs. It’s a given that most teams allocate a monthly stipend from the player or hockey organization to cover basic room and board. Make sure you tell the host family the amount, when they’ll receive it, and how it will be distributed (e.g. cash, check, transfer, grocery gift cards). Does the billet fee cover expenses like a player’s toiletries? Eating out with the family? Three meals a day? Snacks? Often these are details that need to be worked out within each player and billet family relationship. Give them an idea of what to expect, then encourage an open dialogue.
- Have a plan for mediation. When a billet family has problems with their player, they’re most likely to turn to team management for help. But the last thing the coach wants to do is referee household squabbles. Be clear in player contracts what behavior is expected by the team in relation to their billeting situation (for example, curfews, parties, social media, even gaming). Have a defined and consistent course of communications, actions, and discipline when serious issues do arise.
- Recruit character along with skills. Yes, you want great hockey players. And if you’re smart, you want upstanding young men. So do your billet families. During recruiting, take note of outstanding personality characteristics you can share with potential billet homes. Beware of attitudes and actions that might not only spell trouble on the bench, but in getting along outside of ice time as well.
- Value your billet families. 87% of families surveyed by Billet Better are repeat volunteers. They do it because they love the game, they love the guys, they love the organization. But don’t dare take that for granted. Actively express appreciation for your billet families throughout the year. Maintain proactive contact during and after the season. Respond to questions and concerns immediately. And don’t take billeting for granted. They may be in the background, but billet hosts are the backbone of your player’s year.
Solving Billet Fears with Billet Better
Billet Better was created by a billet mom in conjunction with feedback from player parents, billet hosts, and coaches across North America. Billet Better products include easy-to-use documents that a team, billet family, and player customize to each individual situation. Helpful checklists and digital forms quickly turn into agreements that set minds at ease, protect against liabilities, and resolve unanticipated problems up front.
Billet Better products specifically address:
- Player background and personality traits
- Host background and family details
- Essential medical and contact information
- Household rules of the billet host
- How the billet fee/allowance will be spent
- Accommodations for the player
- Billet host and team liabilities
- Team role in billeting