Tyler Giebel of Balgonie, Saskatchewan is calling the Mill Creek area home. At least for the WHL [Western Hockey League] Hockey season. This is Tyler’s first season in the “Dub” playing for the Everett Silvertips. He is listed on the roster as a center, but he told me he’s been playing on the wing as of late. Players are here from mid-August until April into May depending on how far the team goes in the playoffs. Because they are 16 to 20 years of age, they live with host families known as “billets.” Tyler lives with his billet family, the Steigerwalds in the Silver Lake neighborhood. The Steigerwald family consists of parents Deb & Lee, daughter Noelle, Noelle’s dachshund – Oskar and the family lab – K.C. Another daughter, Lindsay, is out of the house on her own.
I asked Tyler if there were any big surprises coming to Everett from Saskatchewan and he said probably the biggest thing is that the “Weather is a lot different. Not having to go out and scrape the [ice off the] car in the morning is different. And all the rain. Not used to all the rain.”
Any billet mates? “For the most part I’m the only player staying with the Steigerwalds. During the season there have been a few call-ups and since there’s an extra room, players have stayed there temporarily at times during the season.”
Knowing what it is like to billet, I asked if he had any humorous stories he’d be willing to share. Without hesitation, he said, “Well yes. One of the Streigerwald’s daughters has a little wiener dog that has a tendency to be a bit yappy. And especially when I come home, even though I’ve been in the house for about 6½ months. Every time I come home the dog goes a little berserk and I kinda have to wait for someone to get the dog calmed down for me to come in. So that’s pretty funny.”
So what’s the typical daily routine for a Silvertip? “I get up & shower, help myself to breakfast and go to school. [Tyler is a senior at Everett High School.] Since I’m Canadian and the classes don’t match between the systems and schedules, I only take one class. So about 9:00 I leave Everett High and go to the rink. Practice is usually over at about 3:00 and I go home for dinner. If I’m not going directly home or not going to be home for dinner, I call to let my billet know. After dinner I hang out in my room or maybe chat with the Steigerwalds. Curfew [time to be at the house] is 9:00pm for the guys in school.”
“On game days if it’s a home game, pretty much the same schedule, after school go to the rink for a short skate or meeting then it is home for a sleep, then Deb prepares pregame meal which is usually pasta and chicken.”
Next I had a chance to ask Deb for her perspective. How long have you been a billet? “This is our 6th year. ” If someone reading this is considering billeting what would you tell him or her? “Every kid is different we only had girls, so it is a whole different ballgame. Teen boys are a lot different from teen girls.”
Why did you decide to billet? “We were excited to have hockey here. We moved here in 1996 from an NHL city. There were the T-Birds but it was a little too far for us to go to many games. We were excited to have hockey in Everett and we got season tickets as soon as we could. They were asking people to billet, but Noelle was still at home so we said no. But then we had the opportunity to go to Australia with the Everett High band and we stayed with families as billets and saw what it was like.”
Any rewards of billeting? “We get the kids still in school so we get a chance to know them. We are still friends with [Zach] Hamill’s family. We’ve met great kids and people over the years that we still keep in touch with. We like making a contribution, making it possible for the players to come here and play for Everett.”
How do you try to make Tyler part of the family? Activities, mealtimes, chores? “We try to have sit down dinner together whenever possible without hats. Sometimes after a home game we’ll go out to a restaurant. They are always so hungry after a game. Tyler’s birthday was at the end of February so we had a celebration and had him invite a few of the other guys over.”
Any humorous stories you would like to share? “One of the boys, a couple of years ago (not Tyler) was raised by a single dad, I guess. We had dinner with mashed potatoes. He looked up very surprised and said, ‘Oh my God, did you make these from scratch?’ ‘You mean the potatoes?’ ‘Yeah, they are the best.’ Another time there were a few players over and someone saw a spider. No one wanted to deal with. Lee got it down with a broom and showed it to the guys; they kind of screamed and he chased after them then it fell off; no one knew where it went?!? But, it was kind of funny because these guys are the tough hockey players, you know.” Do tell.
Thanks to Jon Rosen, Director of Broadcasting & Public Relations – Everett Silvertips for setting this up, and thanks to Deb Steigerwald & #7 Tyler Giebel for taking the time to talk to me. Good luck in the playoffs!
Everett Silvertips begin Round 1, best 4 out 0f 7 against Western Conference top-seed Portland Winterhawks in Portland this Sat Mar 26 7pm & Sun Mar 27 5pm Games 3 & 4 will be played in Everett @Comcast Center Mar 30 & Mar 31 both 7:05pm Game 5 back in Portland Apr 2 7pm* Game 6 in Everett Apr 4 7:05pm* Game 7 in Portland 7pm* * if necessary