Some people get their sports news online or on the radio. When it comes to the Victoria Royals, Alicia and Rae get an exclusive press conference in their living room.
The couple have billeted players for ten years now, usually two at a time. Two years ago it was top scorers Phillip Schultz and his teammate Tarun Fizer.
“Tarun came down the stairs one day and said I have an announcement: Phillip is your new captain,” Alicia laughs. “We’ve actually hosted three captains! They’re lots of fun, that’s for sure.”
It was Rae who first floated the idea of billeting — he played professional football in the CFL — but Alicia wasn’t sure. They tried it out in 2010, and then their first player was traded after six weeks.
“That was tough. In less than six weeks he was part of our family,” Alicia says. “But even when they leave, you still have that bond. You may not hear from them every month, but we just FaceTimed with Joe Hicketts. I get texts on Mother’s Day, even from players who aren’t here anymore!”
A hat trick chicken wager
Some players have lived far from family for years but many have never left home before, so Alicia and Rae help them adjust to doing laundry and learning to cook. Many are used to being stars on smaller market teams, and it takes time to get comfortable in the Western Hockey League. After a tough loss Rae and Alicia will stay up and chat with players if they need to decompress. After a big win it’s a different story.
“We sit right across from the bench, so we sometimes poke fun at each other during the game. Rae doesn’t like chicken, but the players will make bets with him — if they get three goals or three assists, then Rae has to eat chicken. When Phillip got his hat trick, he looked up to Rae in the stands and flapped his elbows like a chicken,” Alicia laughs.
The Royals are looking for a few more families to billet players this season. Coaching staff, Victoria Royals head office and Billet Coordinators Alicia and Rae are always available to answer your questions. Families receive a monthly stipend and a pair of season tickets, and don’t have to worry about storing hockey equipment at home! The team arranges rides for players who don’t have a vehicle, and pays for the host family’s required Criminal Record Check.
“It’s very cool to see them mature, and grow into the people they become.”
For more information or to apply, visit victoriaroyals.com/billets.