Someone You Should Know: A Home Away From Home
Family goes above and beyond for junior hockey players
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Every year, from Labor Day to Mother’s Day, a Sioux Falls family gets a little bigger. They take in teenage boys who are pursuing their dreams of playing professional hockey. What they give the boys goes beyond room and board.
If it’s Tuesday, it’s taco night in the Severson household. The weekly tradition is anything but traditional. They feed a hockey team. Usually around 15 to 20 players come to their house to eat.
“It’s kind of one night where the boys can all come to a place, be together and be boys who are not on display,” says billet dad Brad Severson.
Making the massive meal is just one way Brad and his wife, Delayne, go the extra mile as host parents for Sioux Falls Stampede hockey players.
The technical term for what they do is “billeting.” The word dates back centuries when Canadian households would give British soldiers a place to stay.
Every year since 2010, Brad and Delayne take in at least one Stampede player. All season long, they give them a bed, good healthy meals and provide a feeling of family while the guys are away from their actual homes. Players come from across the country and even around the world to play in the USHL for teams like the Stampede.
“Sitting at the table, ‘How was your day? What’s going on?’ you know, just kind of giving them that touch point,” Delayne says.
Brad adds, “After you do it once or twice, it kind of grows on you, these kids become part of your family, and we’ve got all these boys now who we know all over the country.”
This year, the Seversons have two players staying with them: 18-year-old Matt Quercia from Boston, Massachusetts and 19-year-old Nolan Walker hailing all the way from Anchorage, Alaska.
“People like Brad and Delayne are the reason why you do this. You always want to have a good family to live with. Going to the rink, I always have someone to fall back on when I come home to have a good meal,” Nolan says.
“If you have a bad day, they’ll be here to comfort you. If you’re not eating enough, they’ll make sure you’re eating enough, Brad for sure,” Matt says, laughing.
With hungry athletes at home, the weekly grocery list is pretty long.
“You should see the trips to Costco,” Matt says, “Just everything they do for us is awesome.”
The Stampede organization gives billet families a stipend, but almost all of the Severson family’s spending is out of pocket and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We do it because we love the boys. These boys come into our house, they become part of our family, we still talk to every single kid who’s ever been in this house,” says Brad.
They even make special trips across the country to watch their guys play college hockey after they’ve left Sioux Falls. Brad has a unique relationship with all his “billet sons.” The competitive world of hockey can be tough on players, so he keeps the laughs rolling.
All jokes aside, Brad also has a high standard for his players and he makes sure they’re playing their best.
“I want to see that competitiveness in them. I want them to be successful at this level, because if they are successful at this level, they’ll be successful at the next level.”
And his billet sons come through. Of the ten or so players who’ve stayed with the Seversons, all but two have left the Stampede with Division 1 college hockey scholarships. It’s success that Brad and Delayne are proud of and will continue to follow. Each of those players know they’ll always have a fan base and family in Sioux Falls.
“It’s a lifelong relationship is really what it is,” Brad says.
The Seversons say there’s no expiration date set for hosting players. They’ll continue doing this as long as they have a passion for it.