How did you first get into being a billet family for the Maineiacs?

Don: We saw the add in the paper, and I asked Sheila, I figured it was something we ought to try. I’d coached hockey for years, and we had a spare room at the house.

What was your first impression when you learned you were hosting Chad?

Don: We had two players that first year, we had Chad and we had Maxime Robert. It’s a good thing Max was there, because (Chad) was a little homesick, he was 16, he was full of vinegar.

Sheila: My first impression was, ‘Oh my God, the bed we bought for the room wasn’t going to be big enough. We had to buy another bed.

How much bigger is your food budget with Chad in the house?

Sheila: Not so much by food budget, but my drink budget. I probably spend 30 dollars a week on Powerade, water. But it is bigger. he’s a meat and potatoes guy.

What else changed about your daily lives?

Don: It helped that Max was here that first year, and then the next year he had a car so that didn’t change much.

Sheila: The first year, you literally had to baby-sit him. He was 16-years-old, but we also raised our grandson, and he’s the same age as Chad, so having a teenager in the house wasn’t any different than having my grandson in the house.

How did the first meeting with his family go?

Sheila: It was interesting. His grandparents are very much the matriarch and patriarch of the family, and the whole family came to my house. His grandmother inspected my house very carefully, looked at the pictures of my kids, asked some very pointed questions about raising kids. She was very quiet for a few minutes, and in their native tongue she said to her husband, ‘He can stay here, he’ll be safe.’

Where did the idea for the bus trips first come from?

Sheila: It was really a fluke. Jonathan Paiement’s original billet, Peggy Auger and I, on New Year’s Eve that first year had nothing to do. Peggy, her husband, Don and I thought we’d go to Quebec City for a game. That’s how it started. Within two weeks, there were 40 people who wanted to go with us to the game. Four years later, here we are.

Where did “Fan Bus Lady” come from in the first place?

Sheila: I have no idea, I really don’t. People just started calling me that.

What’s been your favorite place to go so far?

Sheila: Cape Breton by far. How can you go wrong? Hockey arena, hooked to a casino, you just can’t beat it.

What’s been the most bizarre situation you’ve had to deal with on a trip?

Sheila: Probably Chicoutimi. People in Chicoutimi dislike the people from the next town five miles away, let alone a busload from America. The elderly people, when they played our anthem, sat down. They threw stuff at our players, at our coach. There was no security at all, and it worried me. I told our fans just to get on the bus after the game.

Is there ever a worry that the bus will break down, or something else might happen?

Sheila: You’re going up there in the dead of the winter, and their winters are much worse than ours. Our bus did break down once. Thankfully it was only in Saint John, New Brunswick.

There’s a chance that Chad won’t be here next season. Do you plan on taking in another player?

Sheila: I’m going to have to think about it. It’s not because Chad’s been difficult, but it’s because we’ve become so attached to Chad, and I want to be able to follow his career. I can’t do that if I’m baby-sitting someone else. But again, I might. Chad says I’m taking somebody.

Don: It’s been a lot of fun with Chad. I’ve enjoyed the four years he’s been here, and I’m going to miss him.

How about the bus trips? Will those continue?

Sheila: Again, I don’t know. I am committed to next year. Even if I don’t have a player next year, I am committed to the fan bus next year. I don’t see myself getting out, but you never know.


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