Life of a Billet Family
To whom it may concern,
Let me start by introducing myself, I am Karlee T. My family is a billet family for junior teams.
Recently, I had the opportunity to go to Europe and vacation for 3 weeks and visit with some of the European boys that had passed through our house. This was a big deal for me, traveling out of the country alone. I am writing this to express how much I learned from this visit. Staying with their families was the best experience I have ever had, not only did I get to do “touristy” stuff, but I got to experience their everyday life as well.
My family typically asks for the import players because we want to make a positive impact on their stay in the states. We decided to become a billet family about 4 years ago after talking to a Russian player who had a horrible experience with his billets. I must say after my experience in Europe that more billets should take up the opportunity shall it arise to see and experience life in a different country as the boys do here. Things are A LOT different, not only the language barrier, but the time difference, food, and life in general based on their cultures.
I am so blessed that I got to visit with some, not all of my boys and I am very grateful. I hope to use this experience to better the stay our boys have in the future when they pass through our house. They truly do become part of our family and I believe it takes a special family/person to be a billet, especially to foreign players.
I flew to Budapest, Hungary where I visited Kristof Dobos (goalie planning on playing in the WSHL this season). His mother cooked a traditional Hungarian meal and we did some sightseeing. Next, I stayed in Bratislava, Slovakia for a couple days with Cibo Kompanek (last team, Valencia Flyers WSHL). For the remainder of my stay I was with Ondrej Misovic in Dubnica nad Vahom, Slovakia (last team Valencia Flyers WSHL). I felt at home and so welcomed by all the families. I am very grateful for this experience and that it extended my “family” to the other side of the world. I met Kristof and Ondrej last year when they stayed at my house for the Jr. Blues draft camp. Cibo I met through Ondrej as they both spent Christmas and New Years at my house. We traveled to visit Cibo and Ondrej in Wichita as well as California several times last season. It is crazy how close you become with these boys in such a short period of time.
I am writing this to raise awareness that the foreign players need a little extra love and support compared to the kids just living in a different town/state. It is hard for them to adjust and they need someone to lean on. Many billet families overlook that. I would also like to say how thankful I am that my family gets to have the opportunity to house the boys. Growing up I always wanted a brother, now I have many from different places. My family truly does get the best boys, rather they are only staying with us for a camp weekend or the whole year, the connections last forever.
Not only is the hockey world small, but the world is small after all. Thank you to the NAHL and WSHL for this amazing opportunity and for introducing us to the best boys and families who will be in my heart forever! I look forward to more seasons to come!