Billet moms Tammy Mikkelsen (left) and Trisha Edwards said 100 Mile House Wranglers’ players like Bryce Burnett and Tysen Smith become part of their families while they billet with them. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Billet moms Tammy Mikkelsen (left) and Trisha Edwards said 100 Mile House Wranglers’ players like Bryce Burnett and Tysen Smith become part of their families while they billet with them. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Families invite Wranglers into their homes

Being a billet family is more then just providing players somewhere to stay

When the 100 Mile House Wranglers billet players in the community they become a part of their hosts’ families.

It’s a relationship that Wranglers forward Bryce Burnett said is crucial when you’re living away from home for the first time. Burnett said his billet parents, Tammy and Alex Mikkelsen, have been welcoming and friendly ever since he first arrived in 100 Mile House last year.

“Being a part of a team and family is great, it’s just an amazing feeling,” Burnett said. “It’s nerve-wracking going into a home you don’t know the family of. All the families I’ve been with have been phenomenal but it’s still nerve-wracking getting in there at first.”

Mikkelsen, who also serves as the Wrangler’s billet co-ordinator, said she opened up her home to hockey players eight years ago. At the time, her son Shane was a newborn and she thought the presence of teenage boys would be a positive influence on him.

“I have always been a part of hockey and when I saw the Junior B team come in I wanted to be a part of the organization,” Mikkelsen said. “It’s been a great experience and because my son is an only child, they inspire him to be a hockey player and he hangs out with them, it’s really special.”

Whenever she gets a new billet Mikkelsen said she treats them like she would want someone to treat her son. Oftentimes, she said, this is the first time players are living away from their families so making the transition easier is key.

“You build your home around this person. You ask questions about their likes, dislikes and what you can do for them to make it a positive household.”

Burnett said billeting is a lot of fun when you live with a fellow hockey player. He said they become “billet brothers” and form an even deeper bond on and off the ice.

“I like hanging out with my buddies,” Burnett said. “It always makes the environment nicer when you have a teammate with you that you can relate with. It’s like having your best friend around all the time.”

Burnett’s billet brother and Wrangler goalie Tysen Smith agreed with Burnett. Even though Smith only arrived in 100 Mile House this month, he said Burnett and Mikkelsen have already made him feel welcome in their home.

“It’s fun to meet new people but it definitely helps, like Burney said, to have other teammates there,” Smith said. “They become like brothers to you and it’s fun to hang out and have them around. We all have similar interests, being hockey players.”

The Mikkelsens’ basement is where the two Wranglers, along with their third billet brother Jack Mulder, live. Burnett said they go up to have dinner with their hosts every night, which he said makes it feel like home.

New billet parent Trisha Edwards said she has found the player’s real family and billet family tend to amalgamate. Edwards said the parents of her Wrangler, Royce Watson, came from Edmonton last week to visit and have dinner.

“So far it’s been great. He fits into the family, gets along with my kids and just naturally became a part of our home,” Edwards said. “I have kids in minor hockey and we thought for our youngest, who is nine, that it’d be a good experience for him to have a role model to look up to.”

Edwards said her children are now a lot more excited to attend the Wranglers’ games, especially when Watson takes to the ice. Shane, Mikkelsen said, is likewise always eager to attend the Wrangler’s home games and watch them play.

Both Smith and Burnett said a good home environment allows them to focus on their game. They’re set on helping their team reach the playoffs this season and taking home another trophy.

“Duner (coach Dale Hladun) does a great job with us. I’m back in shape and this season has had a rough start but we’re getting there,” Burnett said. “Hopefully we have a good playoff rung and for me personally I’d like to play Junior A Hockey next year but if not this is a tremendous club I’d be happy to come back to.”

While they have enough permanent billet families this year, Mikkelsen said they could always use a few more temporary billet homes. Early on in the season especially, she said, there’s always some level of player movement.

Anyone interested in welcoming a hockey player into their home is asked to reach out to Mikkelsen at 250-706-3344 or tammymikkelsen80@gmail.com.



patrick.davies@100milefreepress.net

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