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I thought I was polite and always used good manners.
…Until I met Britt League.
I am going to be spotlighting the entire team throughout the season, but I feel like a small disclaimer is necessary for this article: I am Britt’s Billet Mom. And trust me, it’s hard to not second guess everything you say to people once you’ve spent a little time with Britt. The “Yes Ma’am’s” and “No Sir’s” roll off his tongue in practically every sentence. When someone in the house addresses me, I’m used to hearing “Mom”, or “Ginger”. But when I hear “Miss Ginger”, there’s no mistaking who it is and I have to smile. And even random acts of daily kindness, such as taking his clothes out of the washer and putting them in the dryer prompt a genuine remark of “thank you, y’all are so sweet.” It was a little unnerving at first, because hearing the southern dialect that is second nature to him, made me feel socially inadequate. Not that the way a person speaks has anything to do with their character, but somehow it made me want to strive to be a kinder, gentler, more appreciative person.
It’s interesting to note that Britt’s birth name is James Britt League V, as he is the fifth generation to bear his family’s signature name. His Dad, Britt IV and Grandfather, Britt III were in attendance this past weekend for the home opener. It’s rare to see a name get carried to the 5th generation in this day and age. There often aren’t boys born in enough consecutive generations to keep the tradition going.
As a self-proclaimed “cheese addict,” Britt tries to stay as active as possible. He consumes grilled cheese, macaroni & cheese and cheese pizza in quantities that would make a person’s head spin. “I hate sitting still. I have to be doing something,” he said. Whether it’s knee hockey, ping pong, basketball, throwing the football or juggling (a personal favorite), he’s always on the move. Juggling became a habit and a pastime to help him with hand eye coordination and he’s prone to pick up any objects he finds around the house to juggle…much to the amazement of my family. None of us can juggle, so having Britt around is just like having our own version of “America’s Got Talent” at our disposal at any given time. “Here Britt, juggle these oranges….or how about these water bottles?” I think I’m going to ask him to try eggs. (But he cleans up, of course)
The rookie goalie from Chesapeake, Virginia turned 17 on the day he arrived in Johnstown for training camp in August. The goalie position comes with its own pressures and challenges, but add to that being a fresh 17 year old away from home and one would think that this transition would be tough on him. But Britt is really enjoying his time in Johnstown and he attributes that to two things: being part of a strong organization like the Tomahawks and having support from his billet family. “My billets are like a second family to me. And I’ve gotten really tight with my billet brothers. I have a younger brother Braden at home and we are very close. Hanging with my billet brothers reminds me of time spent with my brother and it helps make it easier to be away from him until he comes back for visits”, he said.
A few divisional road trips under his belt and having just experienced his first home weekend has given him an even greater perspective on the team he already had a lot of respect for. “It’s really like home at the rink. You feel the love. The road is rough as it is, for anyone. But to come home where everything is first class and you have everything you need with a great staff and even in a strange way to know that the visiting team is getting a great experience, one that they never get in their own rink, it makes you proud to put on the Johnstown jersey.”
But Britt is quick to add that part of that feeling ends when they step on the ice. “We want the visiting team to know it’s OUR house during the game and do our best to make it a long ride home on the bus for them,” he said.
So much for Southern hospitality.