The Okotoks Oilers are looking for host families for their billet program.
Billet and School Liaison Dawn LeMaistre says it's a great way to support local athletics.
"We house all of our players who are not local to Okotoks in homes here in our community so that the players can stay closer to the rink and not have as much travel time, so we reach out to the local community and the Foothills for families whoa re interested in opening their home to a player in anywhere from late August/early September, through to, we hope, late April or May, but could be early as March."
Players come from as close as Calgary and as far as the east coast and the U.S.
LeMaistre says the program can add a great dynamic to different kinds of households.
"We can put in a big brother who can mentor and be a role model for people's children who are growing up and coming into their own hockey program in stages. Also the empty nesters are great, when your kids have left for university or everybody's off and married and you don't have grandkids yet, becoming a billet family is a great way to be involved in the community and have somebody to follow around the province with respect to a sporting event."
They have a vetting process involving a criminal record check and a home visit, and they try to match billets to families that will make a good pairing based on the player's background, the number of children in the home, and other factors.
LeMaistre says the program has created some long-lasting connections.
"We know the program works when we've got billet families that have been with us for decades or more and we have them attending university graduations, weddings, and baby announcements. You know they've spent the right amount of time making connections and putting the right kids in the right homes."
A stipend is provided, as well as some local discount and hockey tickets, though LeMaistre says it doesn't cover the entire cost of hosting a billet.
They're currently looking for short-term and long-term homes.
"We're recruiting for the 2023-24 season. We still have some vacancies in our permanent billet roster spots, so somebody who would have a player from the start of the season through to the end of the season, but we're also looking for temporary. We are in need of building a team to compete for the 2025 Centennial Cup national championship."
There's a particular need for shorter terms homes during recruiting in the next few weeks, says LeMaistre.
Anyone interested can contact LeMaistre at email@example.com