The billet family is an integral part of our organization; we provide the home away from home for the players. It is important to us to provide a place where the players feel comfortable, included and truly cared for. Obviously their nutrition is a key component of billeting but also there are days they need discipline, encouragement or simply someone to listen.
Karen and Jack are in their seventh season of billeting. They have hosted five regular season billets and many temporary billets.
The players have had a huge impact on this billet family, they consider their billets members of their family. Karen and Jack have learned from every one of their billets, celebrate in their triumphs and let them know they are here for them on the tough days. Karen and Jack see the times they are missing home, dealing with family issues, girlfriends, trades, friends and/or teammates, and running upstairs to raid the fridge or pantry. Those times are simply the best and make it more than worthwhile; Karen and Jack are and always will be some of their billets’ biggest fans.
Highlights range from wing nights in Maryfield, Saskatchewan, travelling to Lethbridge, Alberta to attend Arty Kalshnikov’s home opener playing for the U of L, making it to Zach Whitecloud’s home opener in Bemidji, Minnesota and witnessing his first college goal, driving to Edmonton for his first NHL game.
They also took Marco Creta to Bemidji, Minnesota for a weekend of college hockey and tour of the facility; he also got to spend a little time with the coach and Karen and Jack now travel to watch him play in the WHL. Karen and Jack planned and hosted a surprise 18th birthday party for their current billet, Hunter Cloutier, and are planning to attend the horse races in Winnipeg with him next summer.
Jack and Karen both work full time jobs, have two grown daughters – both married and living in Virden – and six grandchildren that they adore. They love to watch and play baseball, soccer, hockey as well as spending time at the lake.
“Honestly, billeting was not something I felt qualified to do, I grew up in a family of four girls and raised two daughters (no hockey experience!) However, the billet coordinators talked us into giving it a try and it has been one the most rewarding experiences of our life. We treasure the relationships with the boys and their families.” -Jack and Karen Forster