Billeting in Hockey – Billet Families and What They Do

Posted on April 18, 2024 by Dan Kent
Billet Families

Hockey billeting is a strange phrase to most people. They don't know what it means or how it works. In this article, we're going to dive into the ins and outs of hockey billeting.

In the world of hockey, there are a myriad of terms and slang that can seem foreign to those new to hockey.

One term that throws people for a loop, despite being extremely important, is billet. This word comes up often in junior hockey leagues and is quite crucial for young adults who are required to travel or live elsewhere to play on their team as they pursue a hockey career.

What is hockey billeting?

While the word billet may sound odd, the concept itself is simple. All hockey billeting refers to is when a young hockey player, typically a teenager in a junior league, lives with another family away from their home during the player's season. 

This lasts until the end of the hockey season, when they return to wherever they are from for the off-season. Billeting came about, given that the average age of the players needing accommodations is 16-21, meaning that they aren't likely able to afford their own accommodations in the short term.  

Often, they're still pursuing their high school educations and cannot afford to have jobs due to their extensive game schedule in relation to hockey along with schooling.

Families or individuals sign up to be a billet family for their league and undergo a background check. If selected, a player will live in your household, and you can help care for them and be a support structure for them as they play in their league. 

Billet family compensation

It's only natural to wonder before signing up whether or not billet families are paid for their time. While the majority of billet families aren't doing it for the money but rather out of a love for the sport and a desire to shape the youths in the game, billet families are compensated. Compensation will vary in frequency and amount. 

How much are billet families paid?

As mentioned, compensation for billet families will likely vary, but it's not uncommon to see $400 per month given. This amount is meant to cover the nutritional requirements of elite athletes in their early years, along with other necessities that a host family member may need to provide for their guest. 

In today's world, $400 doesn't get you very far. So, it's highly likely that many billet families are doing it at a loss and more for the love of the game.

Who pays billet families?

In most cases, the billet program is funded by the local hockey league, and they will be the ones to provide the funds to each billet family. Given this, the compensation may vary drastically, considering how well or poorly funded a hockey club may be.

Junior hockey leagues that are on the path to creating professional-level players will likely be able to disburse greater funds to billet families than those that are not as competitive.

How do you sign up to become a billet family?

For those interested in signing up to become a billet family and get involved in this great hockey tradition, it's helpful to know the steps. The first of those steps is to reach out to your local junior hockey league and inquire as to whether or not they have a billet program.

Assuming they do, you can formally request to apply and submit whatever documents and information they require. 

There will be a background check performed on your family to ensure you are a suitable host that can offer a comfortable living environment.

The league may also ask whether you are engaged in part-time employment or full-time employment to gain a sense of whether or not you can support a player. 

How many players can be hosted by a billet family?

In almost all leagues, a billet family can have a maximum of two junior hockey players residing in their homes. However, hosting multiple student-athletes while also balancing average daily responsibilities is a challenge, so many leagues just assign one per household. 

Forming strong bonds with the player you are caring for during the season is essential to creating a friendly home atmosphere, and this can be challenging with too many out-of-state players. 

What is provided by a billet family?

The person living in your home should be treated like a household member. In most cases, billet families must provide three meals per day to the player, their bedroom, occasional transportation, and access to the internet.

On top of this, billet families are expected to guide the players living with them and should monitor their behaviour and report anything wrong to the league.

What is not provided by a billet family?

Billet families are not expected to provide players unlimited food, electronics (such as cell phones or computers), and certain personal care items.

 For example, cologne, medications, books, and clothing are all expected to be brought by the player or provided by their parents. A thoughtful billet family could provide all the items above, but it would be at their own expense. 

Is it worth it to become a billet family?

Signing up to be a billet family is a major responsibility, but one that can leave you with lasting memories, and it's a great way to get involved with your local league and change a player's life.

Host families need to be sure they can meet the required obligations, however, as forcing the player to find a new home in the middle of a hockey season can be detrimental, causing stress and anxiety, and is often a violation of the billeting contract. 

Becoming a billet family can be an excellent option for everyone, and many single-parent families, along with empty nester households, commonly sign up. Research how to become a billet family for the local league near you if you'd like, and see if you enjoy the experience.

Dan Kent

About the author

Growing up in a hockey hotbed (Calgary, Alberta. And yes, I'm an Oiler fan), I decided to put my love and knowledge of the game to work. I started at five and am still playing today into my early 30s. By acquiring Brave Stick Hockey and rebranding it to Big Shot Hockey in 2023, I plan to teach people about this great game and educate them on the best equipment and history of the game. On a career level, I am in finance, running one of the largest financial websites in Canada, Stocktrades.ca.

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