This is a new feature in the Mercury that will run every second week throughout the 2019-20 Estevan Bruins season. Thanks to the caring billets who provide a home away from home throughout the season, and to Mandy and Ryan Irwin from Tim Hortons on King Street for sponsoring this profile.
Billet names: Reni and Sheldon Beatty
Years as a billet: Eight
Current player billeted: Troy Hamilton
Reni and Sheldon Beatty are in their eighth season as billet parents for the Estevan Bruins, but for Reni, her experience as a billet family extends far beyond that number.
Reni’s parents, Ken and Chris Sali, have been billets for decades. And it was Chris Sali who suggested that the Beattys should give billeting a try. They quickly fell in love with providing a home away from home for junior hockey players.
Growing up, she saw just how much of an impact billets make on a family, and vice-versa.
“We would go for family meals and they were there, and they were really like my brothers,” Reni said.
She also learned the things that billet families need to do on game days, or the things that should happen after the game.
Beatty has also turned to her mother for advice on what to do if their billet has been traded, which is a tough part of billeting.
“You have to take that,” Reni said. “It’s not always sunshine and rainbow. Sometimes there is that downside, and that’s the hard part. But she said you grow and you learn from that. She said it doesn’t get easy.”
When it is time for players to leave, you hope that you’ve done a good job to help them be a little better person in the world.
Reni has been impressed with how quickly their billet this year, rookie forward Troy Hamilton, has fit in with the Beattys and their two sons, Taylor, 18, and Carter, 10.
“You can talk easily to him. The kids playing the gaming systems together. You can just hang out. He’s a super nice guy on and off the ice.”
Last year’s captain Jake Heerspink stayed with the Beattty’s during his nearly three-year stint with the club, while Keagan Allison also had three years at the Beatty residence.
“It’s amazing the relationships that you form with them, and with their families. You really do become just a family. It’s so easy just to sit around the table and celebrate a birthday and converse.”
There is the heartache that comes when it’s time to say good-bye, such as at the end of the hockey season or when they are no longer with the club.
But being a billet parent is a rewarding experience. It allows them to meet people and build relationships that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.