Hockey billeting is a topic that starts like this: “You’re sending your kid to live with someone you don’t even know?”
Um, yes. This is only one of the questions I get from friends who would normally consider me to be a sensible, compassionate mother. It goes right along with “Why does he have to move away to play hockey?” and “HOW MUCH are you paying for this sport?!”
I admit to a few white lies on that last one.
As I type, my son is rushing around packing his goalie gear, loading his car, and prepping for another cross-country trip. It’s his third year playing hockey away from home. And he’s only 18.
Yes. It’s a little crazy. But I’ve come to grips with it. I even love the wacky world of billeting a hockey player.
Some lessons I’ve learned:
Hockey Billet Families Are Your Families
There are some truly great people in the world and hockey billeting has thrown me right into their arms. I’ve come to know the families my son has come to love. I care for the hockey players I’ve billeted as my own kids.
People watching out for each other just makes the world a better place. Hockey billeting is a little piece of that.
Hockey Billeting Isn’t All Sunshine and Rainbows
Billeting a hockey player is a lot of work. Especially if you’re the one shopping and cooking! But hockey players who go to live with a billet family experience great life lessons: Getting along with others. Respecting house rules and culture. Adapting to new situations. Laundry.
As a billet mom, I’ve had to enroll players in school. Proofread their papers. Nurse their colds. Rush them to the ER for game injuries. And then call and reassure their moms who are hundreds of miles away.
It’s not for the faint of heart. But there is help.
Hockey Billet Families Start By Being Smart
When you billet a hockey player, you become part of a bigger community. And I don’t just mean on your own team. Families who billet share the same kinds of heartstrings and stories that connect us across teams, leagues, and countries. (Consider joining a billeting group online!)
It’s natural to celebrate wins, trades, and commitments together. We also commiserate over billeting’s bad days: lazy habits, entitled athletes, unpaid “loans,” medical hiccups, collection agencies, food allergy problems. Most receive knowing eye rolls and can be shrugged off. But some can be more serious.
I started Billet Better as a “CYA” resource because of legal problems I ran into on my own. Through no one’s fault (other than the rest of the world doesn’t understand billeting), I became the subject of a collection agency’s ire and my credit rating took a dip. Things worked out in the end, but yikes. It made me realize there is a risk to these relationships we love. And even when things go smoothly, there’s really no good resource available that explains the big picture and small details that shape the world of billeting.
That’s the mission of Billet Better.
The guidebooks and contracts in Billet Better are the result of experiences and expertise of many billet and bio parents. They go into detail about this season-long relationship and help look at everything objectively: expenses, house rules, behavior, living arrangements, personality traits, getting to know each other, and more.
Billet Better packages present an easy way to define your own expectations for billeting and share them. Keeping it on paper relieves awkward conversations (no, we don’t allow porn in our house) and makes agreements official (yes, your billet fees are due on the 1st and cover all your food). There’s no dickering over who pays for what. There’s no right or wrong way to assign household responsibilities. The relationship you’re entering with a perfect stranger becomes much more clear.
Important legal issues are covered too: temporary guardianship for minors (yep, you’ve got to have it for anything school or doctor related — and yep, you’ll be very irritated if you don’t), medical treatment releases, liability for damages (accidents do happen), and expense agreements.
Family and contact information is a no-brainer, but so helpful to have in one place. Add on niceties like practice and game schedules, go-to contacts on the team and in the billeting community, and I wonder how (or why) I ever did without this system before.
Real Billet Families Really Love It
Fellow billeters swear by it, too. In closing, here are a few quotes from people around North America I’ve come to know and love. If you’re part of the billeting world, here are hugs and help coming your way. Hope you have a great season!
“Billet Better is a brilliant idea. I can’t believe this hasn’t been done before.” — S. S., Player Parent, Michigan
“The medical protection alone is huge!” — S.D., Billet Mom, New Hampshire
“Our team collected info about our players, but we never saw it. This package is SO helpful.” — J.W., Billet Dad, Montana
“Getting contact info and checklists for medical insurance, etc. has been invaluable! I think it made our player’s parents feel at ease that we were on top of these details.” — H.B., Billet Mom, Chicago
“This is a GREAT tool for organizing billeting.” — R.W., Billet Coordinator, Ontario
“What a great way to break the ice and make sure our home is respected without the awkwardness.” — T.S., Billet Mom, British Columbia
“These forms are concise, so the intent is unmistakable, but everything is fair and cordial. These going to prevent the headaches we’ve had in past seasons.” — G.D., Billet Mom, Massachusetts