BOW VALLEY – Local hockey clubs are looking to find homes for players and student-athletes gearing up for 2019-20 campaigns in the Bow Valley.
The Banff Hockey Academy (BHA) Bears and Canmore Eagles are in search of billets – or homes away from home – in the Banff and Canmore area for mid-August, or the start of September, and are encouraging interested local families of all types to reach out.
BHA hopes to have four to five homes in place for boys and girls, mostly aged 15-17, until the end of June 2020.
“A lot of our families are hockey families and understand the programs and its value inside the community and are looking to have a high performer at a very elite level at their dinner table with their children,” said Billy Doherty, BHA’s co-founder and president. “All these things I think are why billet families would be attracted to a BHA student.”
BHA billets receive $400 per month and are responsible for providing healthy food for breakfast each day.
“The interesting thing with us and our billet program is it isn’t like other billet programs,” Doherty said. “The only meal that needs to be prepared, or at least available to the students, is breakfast. Lunch and dinner and all the snacks are taken care of by us.”
Entering its 26th season, many Canadian and international players join the academy’s three teams – boys prep (U18) and varsity (U16), and girls prep (U18) – to compete in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) and attend Banff Community High School. Academics are an underlined importance at BHA, which operates out of Banff’s Fenlands rec centre and can have up to 15-18 members on each roster.
Those interested in becoming billet families can contact BHA at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at BHA’s office: 403-760-0833.
Barbara Costley, an Eagles billet coordinator, has housed Eagles for the past five seasons and said billeting is suitable for all types of families.
“[The Eagle players] really do participate in the family – they become a family members,” Costley said. “They step up and help out and they make my life easier at times … they become such a huge integral part of the family while they’re living with us.”
Each Eagles billet family receives $350 per month, plus a 15 per cent discount at Save-On-Foods grocery store and season tickets to watch the Eagles at the Canmore Rec Centre. Billets are responsible for providing healthy food for breakfast and lunch each day and Costley said her family makes extra for dinner each night should the busy Eagle be around to join them.
The club is looking for permanent and also temporary homes and the latter is encouraged for first-time billets interested in testing the program.
“It’s suitable to all types of families – older couples, who miss that energy in the house, a lot of billets have younger children and play hockey themselves. Of course, they adore the big brother, and also there’s a huge number of billets that have kids of that (high school) age.”
Those interested in becoming billet families can contact the Eagles at email@example.com.
The Eagles first game of the season is Sept. 18 in Calgary against the Canucks.
The BHA female prep team’s first game is Sept. 27 at 1 p.m. at Banff Fenlands arena against the St. Mary’s Flames. The male prep team’s first game is Sept. 27 at 6:15 p.m. at Edge School, just outside of Calgary.