Adjusting to the life of a junior hockey player is no easy endeavour.
The majority usually leave home at a very young age to begin a new life in a new city, sometimes thousands of kilometres from their hometowns.
Pile on the demands of a junior hockey training regimen and countless hours spent on the bus travelling from city to city and it is easy to see why having a stable billet family with whom to call home is so vital to the development of young athletes chasing their hockey dreams.
It was no different for Victoria Royals forward Bailey Peach, who first left his hometown of Falmouth, NS at the age of 16 to join the Sherbrooke Phoenix of the QMJHL.
From there he would travel to Charlottetown, PEI, where he would spend one season before making his way out west to join the Royals for the 2021-2022 season, the last of his junior career.
Through all his six seasons spent in the hectic world of junior hockey, the support and stability provided by all his billet families played a huge part in his success on the ice:
“I was very fortunate to have good billets for my whole junior career,” said Peach. “It’s tough when you come in at a young age, you don’t really know what to expect going into a new house and a new billet family, so to have billets that really care about you and care about the game of hockey and want to support you and do what’s best for you is unbelievable.”
When Peach arrived in Victoria prior to the 2021-2022 season, he would be taken in by Michelle Siemens and Adam Vase, a first time billet family who would support the 20-year-old forward during his best junior season yet.
He believes the environment provided by Vase and Siemens played an instrumental role in his success last season, in which he led the team with a career-high 78 points:
“What they did for me was amazing and I can’t thank them enough,” said Peach. “They were actually new billets this year and did a really good job of making sure I was prepared before every game and every single day in Victoria. They were a big part of my success this year.”
While Peach reaped the fruits of a supportive and dedicated billet family, it also provided Siemens and Vase with the rewarding experience of being an integral part of the development of a young athlete and the chance to provide direct support for their local sports community:
“We wanted to help the team in their time of need, and when the chance came for us to be able to give back, we jumped at the opportunity,” said Siemens. “We feel more connected to the team, now being involved in billeting, and very proud to be a part of The Royals. The players we’ve had stay with us have been respectful and disciplined…The time spent billeting has been rewarding and so much fun.”
“Being a billet has been an extremely rewarding experience that can not be put into words.” added Vase. “Having a Royals player staying with us opened our eyes on the level of dedication and passion these young men have towards the game of hockey.”
If you would like to become a part of the Royals family and take part in the rewarding experience of billeting a junior hockey player, you may inquire on the team’s website at victoriaroyals.com/billets