RALSTON, NE - The United States Hockey Leauge (USHL) had each of its member teams nominate a Billet Family of the Year. The Omaha Lancers have nominated Steve and Sherri Zimmerman as this year’s candidate for the USHL Billet Family of the Year Award. For Twenty-Two season, and with no plan to stop, the Zimmermans’ have opened their doors to Omaha Lancers players.
Steve and Sherri became Billet’s parents for the 1998-1999 season. They had been attending games and had been on the waiting list for season tickets for a few years prior to that. During one of the games, they heard the announcements asking for volunteers to become Billet parents for the Lancers players. With having three of their own children, the Zimmermans were actively involved in travel and sports and thought it would be a great idea to show them the dedication and commitment that is necessary to exceed in athletics.
“Sherri picked up the application first and we discussed but I was not very enthusiastic about it because our daughter would be a freshman in high school that Fall,” Steve said. “ I didn't think it would be a good idea to have these strange hockey players, just slightly older than our daughter, living in our house with both of us working outside the home. I threw the application away, but Sherri dug it out, and after discussing it more she convinced me to give it a try and we've never looked back. We always welcome whoever is assigned to us, whether that's one or multiple players each year.”
Over the past Twenty-Two seasons, the Zimmerman household has seen it’s a fair share of players. Most recognizable to Lancers faithful, Dan Ellis (Dallas, Nashville, Tampa Bay, Anaheim, Florida). They’ve also had several players that have or are still playing at various levels. Other recognizable names include John Togiai, Jeff LoVecchio, Drew Conboy (Montreal), CJ Ludwig, Jake Randolph, Jimmy Schuldt (Vegas), Shane Gersich (Washington), Filip Suchy, and Zach Driscoll.
Steve and Sherri still keep in touch with players who’ve they housed.
“We talk to Dan Ellis a lot, simply because he still lives in the Omaha area, close to where we live and we run into him quite often,” Steve said. “After that, it is probably the more recent players, particularly Jimmy Schuldt, Zack Driscoll, Shane Gersich, Filip Suchy, and Scott Dornbrock. We also here from quite a few of the player’s parents. Sherri and I have been to players’ college games, pro games and even weddings.”
The Zimmermans can always be seen wearing their one of a kind Host Parent Jackets at every game.
“The list of names is quite long,” Steve said.
On each sleeve of the black and orange jackets are the names of each player they’ve housed. It starts off with Dave and Chris Noble, the first players they housed back in 1998-99 and goes up to the most recent of Zach Plucinski, Nolan Renwick, Ryan Lautenbach, and Matthew Sutton.
“We add the names to the jackets when we are pretty sure they will be around for most of the season. We have 44 players on that list so far and we have gone through four jackets, downsizing the font each time. We are almost out of space again and are still trying to figure out what to do next. We have lost track of the count of players that did not make it to the jacket, plus all of the recruits that spend a few days to a few weeks with us during the season. When we first started attending games we had noticed another billet dad had a jacket with a few names of his player. We stole the idea from him,” Steve chuckled.
"We want to thank every single family that serves as a billet for our players. We started this award this year to recognize their selflessness," said USHL President & Commissioner Tom Garrity. "While we know every single one of our billet families for all 16 of our Member Clubs welcome our players with open arms as if they're members of their own family, we are excited that going forward, our Clubs will be able to highlight one of these outstanding families each season. Their commitment to shaping these young men's careers and personalities during their time in the USHL is exemplary and we are continually amazed by the dedication they show in serving as a billet family."
To find out more information on how you can be a Billet Parent, click here.