Every year, hockey players across Canada and the United States leave their hometowns to play hockey in different regions. The Portage Terriers often host a large percentage of their roster with billets in Portage and the surrounding area. Many of these players are from cities or towns a great distance from the central Manitoba region. Among those players this year is Parker Scherr, who was acquired from the Olds Grizzlys of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
Scherr has been billeting over the last two seasons with Kyle and Alicia Pettinger in Portage, as well as their two boys. Alicia describes how that came about.
"Parker is the first person we've ever billeted. Kyle's parents did it before, many, many years ago. They billeted a handful of people, so they approached us and said, 'Would you like to try this? You have two boys, an extra room,' and for the experience that it is, and helping the community and everyone else, we said we'd try it out. So, this is our second year now having Parker with us."
Kyle followed that comment with his thoughts, describing how the change affected them.
"Being a first that we've ever experienced, of course, that was one of the biggest things. We learned a lot about Parker, and Parker learned a lot about us. We definitely went through some house rules and some changes and things that we had to adjust to ourselves because we were just used to our own kids. But after a certain period of time, we went away from treating it like he was a hotel guest and turning it into more of he was a part of the family."
Scherr, who calls Edmonton home, expresses thankfulness for being able to live with Kyle and Alicia while playing hockey in Portage.
"Obviously, playing in Manitoba, when I'm from Edmonton, you're a little bit further from home. So, you don't really have the luxury of going home for weekends and stuff like that and driving home. So, I was a little more nervous, and obviously it was people I've never met before. It was a family that, it was their first time billeting as well. So, it was very new to them. But ever since I got there, they treated me like family right from the get-go, and honestly, probably the best billets anybody could ever ask for."
Alicia also shared that their boys love playing games with Parker, and that he is happy to oblige.
Kyle and Alicia's boys, Kaden and Jayce, are both big fans of Scherr, so much so that Jayce, who plays defence in U11, wears #6, the same number as his billet brother. Jayce noted that the three of them, Parker, Kaden, and Jayce, all enjoy playing mini-sticks hockey together, watching Scherr play video games. Jayce, when prompted by his dad about Parker's favourite thing to do, added with a laugh, "Sleep."
Joking around certainly has made its way well into this billet family, as Kyle took a shot at Parker's crokinole skills.
"He's terrible at crokinole. I absolutely annihilate him. He has never once beaten me at crokinole, and he is awful. But he really tries, and he's a good sport about losing."
Kaden is the goaltender for the U13 Portage Terriers, and recently played in the Portage Cup tournament that was held at Stride Place. He gave his thoughts on having Parker in the crowd at the tournament.
"Sometimes, I get a little nervous because it's a Terrier watching, but I just play like I play."
Alicia shared how she feels that the experience of hosting Parker over the last two years has been for their family.
"I don't have anything negative to say about the experience. He's a great role model for the boys."
Kyle, when asked about what he would say to someone considering billeting, had this to say.
"My simple answer is, 'Just do it.' You only get one shot at doing this for your kids, for anything." He shares that, in relation to their family, there wasn't any better time to start. "I think, at 9 and 11, and Alicia said it best, it was the perfect age to have that bigger brother role model."
"In their eyes, he's the next best thing to an NHL player, living right there with them. He's on the ice, he's doing interviews on the radio, and nobody better."