Seattle T-bird billets provide homes for young stars

SEATTLE --For the last five years, Paul and Laurie Dunn’s home has hardly been an empty nest – filled with local hockey players instead.

“We’re happy to open our homes to these guys. We know that they’re trying hard and working hard,” Paul Dunn said.

The Dunns are hockey billets, providing room, board and meals for Seattle Thunderbirds players, like Shea Theodore and Jerret Smith – both far from home, training for potential pro career with theT-birds, while going to school at the same time at Kentwood High.

“It’s not always something people are used to, just welcoming new kids into the house and having to live with them for seven, eight months, so it’s definitely good of them to do that,” Theodore said.

“It’s a little different, just getting used to their lifestyle and it’s been good so far, they’re really nice,” Smith said.

The team sets their curfew and their day-to-day schedule. The Dunns, who’s two sons are now out of the home, receive a stipend and provide the home base - and set the tone before the players move in, with what’s called “the talk.”

“They’re there for us, making pre-game meals. My parents aren’t really home but they usually have it covered for every game,” Smith said.

The Dunns characterize the setup as an extension of a hockey family.