Joanne and Nick Contenti are great examples of how billeting Dragon players, changed their lives for the better.
Joanne spoke to inSide Drumheller, “We started billeting in 2009 and were pretty nervous. We previously lived in three AJHL towns, Brooks, Olds, and Drumheller. In each town, we were fans of the home team.”
Joanne explained, “In Olds we started getting more involved, Nick joined the Board of Directors and I was manning the 50/50 booth, but we never wanted to billet. I just didn’t think I would have the time to cook them meals. We moved to Drumheller in 2008 and were asked several times to billet and we kept saying no. Finally in 2009 we said we would give it a try. Evan Warner moved into our house, and we have never looked back.”
Joanne continued, “We have met some amazing young men. Young men who are disciplined and focused and so very polite. These young men have lived a dream of playing hockey at the “next” level since they first put skates on. We have found that providing meals, while of course is required, is the smallest part of what a billet provides.”
Joanne further explained, “What you are really giving is a home, a family, a safe place for them to be, while they continue perusing their dream. Someone who is present to celebrate success and encourage them past challenges. Each and every one of these boys has walked through the door and into our hearts and we have enjoyed every moment. We have met their families who are so thankful to know their boys are being cared for.”
In 2011 we had Simon Horlick come to live with us for about six weeks. The next year, the Contenti’s had said they would only take one billet but then Horlick sent Joanne an email saying he was coming for tryouts and could he please stay with them again.
The Contenti’s couldn’t say no. “He showed up for the start of the year with a bottle of wine and a bouquet of flowers!! Seriously, these boys will melt your heart.” said Joanne.
The Contenti’s billets this year are from Michigan, Evan Rochowiak and Levi Wunder, and Joanne explained that it has been fun watching them experience chinooks, northern lights, and of course the unique beauty of our valley. The players are proud of where they are from and have shared pictures and stories of home as well.
Earlier this year, some of the boy’s families came up. The Contenti’s met Wunder’s Mom and Aunt and Evan Warner’s Mom and Grandma. They toured the valley and had lunch at Wayne. Joanne shares this story. “Somehow the conversation turned to pickles. Nick talked about the mustard pickle his Mom used to make and how much he missed it. Two weeks later we received a package from Warner’s Grandma in Florida with two jars of mustard pickles, just like Nick’s Mom used to make!”
Joanne and Nick expressed, “We have included these boys in all our family events,while they are around, and we still keep in touch with some of them. Hockey has always been a part of our lives growing up and with our own children so we love being at the rink. Billeting gives you a winter son to cheer for, and leaves a warm feeling in your heart.”