Vees seeking billet families for this season

Shauna Turner and Eric Paakspuu share their experience in welcoming Penticton Vees players to their home

Penticton Vees

Penticton Vees

By Fraser Rodgers

A hockey team is like a puzzle; there’s a lot of pieces that make up the larger picture from sound ownership, dedicated and hardworking coaches to the talent on the ice.

One key piece that may get overlooked are the people behind the scenes — billet families.

The Penticton Vees are looking for billet families for the upcoming 2016-17 season.

The Vees have a strong history of good billet families taking players into their homes. One great example of long-time billets are Shauna Turner and Eric Paakspuu. The couple opened their doors to the Vees in 2008 and have never looked back.

“Every last one has fit into the family. Mitch Labreche was our first player in 2008 and we were delightfully surprised at what was waiting at the door,” said Eric.

Fast-forward nine years and 17 players later and the couple have no regrets.

“They’re nothing special, just down-to-earth kids who are focused on hockey,” he said. “They don’t eat as much as you think and they’re great role models for younger kids in the family.”

It’s a bigger season ahead for the Vees as they’re hosting the 2017 Western Canada Cup, April 29 to May 7, a western regional championship that moves two teams on to the RBC Cup national championship. With that in mind, the team needs to find good placements for their players to make them feel right at home.

Shauna said bringing a player into your home isn’t as daunting as you think.

“Their hockey schedule works right into our family schedule and most working family’s schedules. They’re at the rink in the morning, usually on their own for lunch, practising in the afternoon and home for dinner,” she said. “It’s just like having a teenager at home going to school.”

Billet families don’t have to breathe, eat and sleep hockey either as Eric points out.

“You don’t have to be a hockey nut, we weren’t when we started but it grows on you as your relationship with the player grows.”

“Shauna didn’t even follow hockey all that much before Mitch (Labreche) started living with us back almost 10 years ago. But as our relationship with Mitch grew, she got right into it; she won’t miss a game now. The hockey side isn’t the attraction; it’s fostering the relationships with these players.”

Those relationships don’t end when the players leave Penticton either, as Labreche, still keeps in touch to this day.

After hockey, Labreche was working on helicopters for his dad’s company, work that even took him overseas to Afghanistan. Even though he was halfway around the world, he still made time to find his way back to surprise Shauna and Eric with a visit to their home a few years ago.

When sitting with the couple at their picnic table in their backyard overlooking Skaha Lake, you quickly realize billeting is a big part of their lives. They grew to love it, as first starting off with one billet in 2008 to housing three players this past season in Chris Gerrie, Gabe Bast and Domenic Masellis.

Shauna, who’s a straight shooter, points out there might be a hiccup here or there but that comes with any teenager.

“If their room is too messy, I just tell them and they’re dealing with it right away. The hockey background makes it easy to communicate with them; they’re very respectful.”

The Vees puzzle is coming together for the 2016-17 season as it moves closer to training camp, there are still some final pieces that need to be added to complete the picture. That piece could be you.

Vees’ billets get a monthly grocery allowance, per player, and tickets to every Vees’ regular season and playoff home game, including the Western Canada Cup. Families interested in billeting for the upcoming season can contact or call (250)809-4276.



Just Posted

Lightning in Kelowna, B.C. (Contributed)
Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Okanagan

Conditions are favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms overnight

Justin Fotherby,17, and Ashley McMillan, 17 have been chosen for an invitation only competition that sees 20 of Canada’s top swimmers per event vying for a spot at the upcoming 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. (Submitted)
Penticton swimmers off to Olympic trials

The pair are eyeing a spot on the Canadian team heading to the Tokyo Olympics

Bentley resting on a bench at Kal Park in Vernon not knowing there is a baby rattlesnake curled up below. Bentley jumped down and was bit by the snake. (Facebook)
Dog bit by baby rattler at popular Vernon park

The rattlesnake was hidden underneath a park bench when it struck out

Renderings of what the skating rink could look like beside City Hall between Martin and Main in downtown Penticton. (Activate Penticton image)
Outdoor skating rink back at Penticton council

City staff recommend going forward with rink which could host 2022 BCHL’s 60th year celebration

Longtime SOWINS volunteer Diane Fru (far left) walks with members of her family as they Walk To End Abuse Sunday, June 13, 2021. South Okanagan Women In Needs Society (SOWINS) raised a record amount this year. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Walk to End Abuse in South Okanagan breaks fundraising record

More than $53,000 raised so far while the pandemic has increased need for SOWINS’ services

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

(Heather Lueck image)
Crash north of Enderby knocks out power, slows Highway 97A traffic

A witness captured footage of a medical helicopter landing at the scene

Most Read