USA Hockey Magazine

January 2014

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Page 31 of 42

BY JIM LEITNER H the heart is ME is where Tri-City Storm Player Keeps The Home Fires Burning While His Billet Mom Is Deployed I G AS DOIN AT D E B W Y, WING TH COUNTR OUR "…KNO ." E AT F O R TOO ING GR RT H E R , SOMETH O SUPPO EZ ANTED T GAM I W GARRETT — Like many Junior hockey players, Garrett Gamez has found comfort and support through his billet family. 30 JANUARY. 2014 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM n hundreds of homes across the country, billet families provide the structure and emotional support teenage hockey players desperately need during pivotal transition periods in their lives. But, this fall in Kearney, Neb., Garrett Gamez somewhat flipped the script. The 18-year-old forward from Chino Hills, Calif., offered his support to billet parents Tom and Deb Andersen during a difficult time in their lives. Less than two months after Gamez reported for his second season with the United States Hockey League's Tri-City Storm, the Army Reserves deployed Deb. The nurse will serve a year in Fort Dix, N.J., helping soldiers transition to and from active duty overseas. "I still want to be there, because, as a mom, I know nobody can take care of my kids better than me," Deb said. "I want to be the first one there if they get hurt or if they have any kind of problem. I know they do well for themselves, but I still worry about them like all moms do. "It's tough being away and you can only do so much through phone calls and texts. But, they know I have to focus on the mission here, and it makes me feel a lot better knowing they have everything handled at home." Gamez frequently visited the Andersen home last season while Finnish import player Heikki Liedes lived with the family. Gamez formed a bond with Tom and Deb, so it seemed like a natural fit for him to live there this season. PHOTOS COURTESY OF United States Hockey League

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