The Dowsett’s are a beautiful family of four that grow to five in the winter when they take a Wolverine player into their home. I was lucky to sit down this week to talk with them about what it’s like being a Junior A Wolverine billet family for another edition of The Billet Chronicles. I met with the Dowsett's in their home and we sat down at their kitchen table. The first thing I noticed when we sat down was a beautifully decorated feature wall. The wall was covered with artwork and pictures of their two sons, Ty, 7 and Ethan, 6 and right beside the pictures of Ty and Ethan, there was another picture. It was a picture of their other son, their billet son Cody Laskosky, #23 on the Wolverines roster.
The Dowsett’s can be described as a strong willed, down to earth, hardworking family with a great mix of sarcasm and sense of humour. Kristin is currently on medical leave from her job as an RCMP Officer and Rob is a Lead Operator in the oilfield. Sons Ty and Ethan are full time students at one of our local elementary schools and in their spare time, they’re minor hockey players for Whitecourt Minor Hockey. You might recognize Kristin and the boys from the Wolverines season ticket video that they so graciously starred in for us. With over 15,000 views, we’re certain that you’ve seen them.
My first question to Rob and Kristin was how they became interested in becoming a Wolverines billet family. Kristin explained that Rob had always gone to Wolverines games and once their oldest son Ty became interested in hockey, he started joining his dad at the rink for those games. Last August they saw an ad on the Wolverines Facebook page for billet homes and started chatting about it on their way home from Edmonton. The couple says that from there it was an easy decision, they called Kelly Shears, the Wolverines billet coordinator and met with her to get all the details and by the time she left, they had decided that they would become a billet family.
The past few years haven’t been an easy road for the Dowsett family. Kristin was diagnosed with breast cancer in July of 2015. After a double mastectomy and many rounds of chemo and radiation, Kristin entered into remission. This past October Kristin found another lump and once again, her cancer diagnosis had returned. Knowing this must take a toll on the family, I asked how this changed their billeting situation. Kristin explained that Cody had only lived with them for a couple of months when she was re-diagnosed and telling him was hard. They wanted him to stay living with them but they also wanted to make him feel that he had an out if he didn’t feel comfortable so they offered to let him move to another billet home. Both Kristin and Rob say they were very relieved and happy that Cody immediately made the decision to stay.
“It was such an awesome experience, I immediately felt like I was a part of the family from the day I moved in,” said Cody. “I think with everything happening in their lives over this past year and for me to be around and apart of it, it really strengthened our relationship.”
Rob explained that hockey allowed his focus to be on something else besides Kristin’s health issues, getting to talk with Cody after games and practices was something that he looked forward to. Kristin said that having Cody in the house helped her get through tough times. She said that Rob would have to leave for work every day and her boys were in school but Cody was at home and this allowed her to free herself from being down and depressed. She felt that if Cody hadn’t have been there, it would have been easy to sink into a state of sadness. She states that “having someone around every day forced me not to wallow in self-pity”. Kristin says that Cody’s parents also helped a lot with the situation, talking with Cody and checking in with Kristin on a frequent basis.
Getting back on track with his sense of humour, Rob mentions that even after all of this, Cody still didn’t shovel the driveway. He talks about one weekend when the Dowsett’s were away they came back and it had snowed. The snow sat in the exact spot it had fallen and the shovel hadn’t moved. When the Dowsett’s walked in the house, Rob had a very funny exchange with Cody that went something like this, “Hey Cody, did you get slashed in your game this weekend? Are your arms ok, let me have a look.” Cody looked confused and told Rob that he hadn’t been slashed in the arms or anywhere else. Rob exclaimed, “Well that shovel has not moved since we left so I thought you must have taken a nasty two hander” to which Cody replied “oh I get it!”
It’s all in good fun though and the Dowsett’s laugh as they tell these stories. This isn’t the first billet family that has talked about shoveling in our interviews, in fact, it’s been brought up in every billet interview I’ve ever done. One billet family, Rena and Kerry Lalonde, seem to have solved the shoveling problem by buying their billet sons shovels and writing their names down the handles in big bold letters. With this newfound information, I’d be making a safe bet when saying that I believe Cody will be getting a shiny new shovel on his very anticipated return to the Dowsett house.
Although Rob and Kristin like to joke and poke fun at Cody and the other players, I can tell that the Dowsett’s would do almost anything for their billet son and his team mates. The team was on a road trip one cold weekend and it had snowed heavily while they were gone so Rob went to the rink and brushed off every vehicle that belonged to the Wolverine players. He says he likes to help with fixing vehicles and making sure the boys come home to clean windshields at two in the morning and it’s easy to see that Cody appreciates, respects and loves his billet family in return. Rob’s favorite memory of the year is Cody coming out of the dressing room after the Wolverines won the North Division with a beverage for not only his dad but for Rob as well.
Kristin says her favorite part of the year was the relationship she built with Cody and his family. The Dowsett’s attended Cody’s graduation in June and have formed a wonderful friendship with the Laskosky’s. It was past Ty and Ethan’s bedtime when I met with the Dowsetts so I didn’t get to speak with them but both Rob and Kristin say that Cody has made a huge impact on their sons. Ty watches every minute of the games he’s at, including the warm up and has emulated that part of the game into his own pregame ritual. Rob says he ignores what the rest of his team is doing and does exactly what he watched the Wolverines do. Ethan and Ty, by all accounts, have a new big brother and keep asking when Cody will be changing his last name to Dowsett.
“I get to feel like an older brother to Ty and Ethan which is pretty cool and I can’t wait to get back,” added Cody.
Even though the Dowsett family has faced some setbacks, they look forward to welcoming their billet son back for the 2017/18 hockey season. This year will be more familiar and easier to navigate and hopefully the Dowsett’s driveway will get shoveled more consistently. But in all seriousness, it is with a great amount of confidence that the Wolverines can say that Cody Laskoksy-Dowsett is in a great home with great billet parents and some of the best little brothers in Whitecourt.
* If you are interested in becoming billet parents for the Wolverines, please call or email billet coordinator, Kelly Shears at 780-779-8815 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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