As we approach the tenth season of Minotauros hockey in the Magic City we will be taking time to look back at our history. We know that while we have some fans that have been with us for the entire ride, many are have not. If there is something from our history you would like for us to take a closer look at email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We started our series prior to the NAHL Supplemental Draft with a look at our NAHL Draft history and continued it with a look at tryout camp success stories.
With only six players in Tauro history having been Minot natives, the vast majority of Tauros have lived with billet families (or host families) during the time in the Magic City. Whether here for a week or three seasons the players and billets form a bond, that in many cases lasts a life time.
Four families, the Coopmans (Dan, Kristy, Elise, Adele, and Ivy), Hyatts (Jamie, Laurel, Brandon, and Brett), Meckles (Tim and Jody), and Meyers (Joe, Andrea, and Ashton) have been billets since the 2011-12 season, the Tauros’ first, and continue to host players as we move into season ten. We spoke to each of them to hear how opening their homes to Tauros effected their family.
For three of the families, Coopmans, Meckles, and Meyers, the journey began with a radio commercial. Kristy Coopman was on the way home from grad school when she heard the ad explaining the Tauros’ need, “I knew it was going to be a challenge to find homes, because the flood created havoc in our community. My husband was a hockey player and loves the sport, so I asked him if he was up for billeting. At the time, he was on a deployment in Afghanistan, so he left the decision up to me. We jumped in and wouldn’t change the decision for the world.” The Hyatts came to billeting through a more traditional route, “we had two boys in hockey and thought this would be a great tool for them to learn more! We also thought it would be a help to the community to have an NAHL team in town.”
All four families agree that one of the most rewarding aspects of being a billet is the relationships that come from it, the Meyers said “we have met so many amazing and interesting people. Our family has grown over the years.” The Hyatts added that it is not just the players who become part of the family, explaining that, “the parents of former players have been wonderful to keep in contact,” with as well.
The bonds forged between players and their billets do not break after the player’s Tauro career ends. The Meckles said, “we keep in touch with all of our Tauros… weddings, college hockey, and just because! These young men are the best!” The Meckles and Hyatts have both traveled to attend their former billet’s weddings, while the Meyers and Coopmans have also traveled to watch their former players careers continue in the NCAA.
Of course, such a bond does not come without a price, the Meckles said the hardest part of being a billet is, “standing in the driveway watching them leave as the season is over with tears in your eyes.” The Coopmans agreed, “it’s like watching one of your own kids leave.” There are other challenges too, some come from on the ice and others off. There are the typical growing pains of adding a new teenage boy to your home. Andrea Meyer mused that sometimes it can be simple things that become more difficult like, “getting the kids to tell you what they want for supper.” Then as the Hyatts explained that you have to be more than just a fan after some losses, “it is hard when they feel they did something wrong during the game.”
Though after talking to the Tauros ten-year billets about their favorite Tauros memories it would seem the losses are not so bad. While some expected moments like the Tauros run to the 2018 Robertson Cup Final and playoff sweeps of Bismarck were mentioned, or billet specific memories such as the Coopmans recalling their former billet Jake Hebda’s performance in the Tauros first goalie fight; all recalled the first season, during which the Tauros went 7-49-4, fondly. Tim Meckle said, “my favorite memory is season 1, the ups and downs, watching the team form as one,” and Andrea Meyer agreed, “in the very beginning, even when losing, we all cheered and had a great time.”
Another common thread was an apparent lack of regret, the Meckles said, “This has been as awesome experience for us, the people we have met, the friends we will never forget,” and the Coopmans added, “we wouldn’t change the years we’ve been able to support the team through billeting.” As you would expect from four families going into their tenth season billeting Tauros, all would recommend opening your home as well and offered some advice for those who may be considering it. The Hyatts cautioned, “be prepared for all different personalities! We have had quiet, loud, distant, clingy, players who needed lots of help with everything, to very independent.” The Meyers agreed, “everyone is different,” and offered, “communication is key.” While the Coopmans echoed that advice and added, “support them like they are your own… and prepare to learn some new recipes.”
Tim and Jody Meckle summed it up nicely, “there is nothing more rewarding, watching them develop, move on to play college hockey, grow as individuals, and become a part of your family….there is nothing better!”
For more information on how your family can join our Billet program and open your home to Tauro click here. The Billet family is compensated with a “Billet Package” which includes season tickets and $325.00 monthly per player for grocery expenses. Whenever possible players will provide their own transportation and cell phones. In compliance with NAHL rules, all housing families must pass a criminal background check.