A Home Away from Home

New team. New family. New city. New beginnings. The Patton family is a big part of the transition process for a few RoughRiders players.

The+Patton+family+on+a+boat+with+their+new+billet+brothers.

Daphne Patton

The Patton family on a boat with their new billet brothers.

Each year RoughRiders players leave their family and come to Cedar Rapids and join a new family for the season. Karis Patton’s family takes in incoming Roughriders every year. The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders are an amature team in the USHL development league. This league is for those who just graduated high school going to play at the next level. A lot of the players are already committed to top colleges around the country and are being scouted by the NHL.

Karis Patton, senior, is not involved in any sports at Liberty, but is a remarkable dancer. Karis bypassed her freshman year at Liberty and went down to Texas to Houston Ballet. Karis came back to Iowa sophomore year, but there was something a little different about her family. There were two more young men living in her house playing hockey for a semi-pro team.

The new members of their household don’t seem to affect her negatively.

“It doesn’t bother me, I’m not really home that much anyways since I’m so busy so I don’t notice much of a difference,” said Karis.

Although they live in the same house, Karis said:

“They definitely don’t feel like brothers to me just because I can’t see myself with older brothers. But in the previous years we’ve hosted I felt like I saw them more as older brothers. I was also two years younger then.”

Daphne Patton, mother of Karis, loves welcoming and hosting these young men into their family.

“We chose to host because we love kids with big dreams and a work ethic to match. These kids work so hard to get to be a part of a tier one junior hockey team and getting to know them and their families is motivating and inspiring. Because Karis did a similar thing with her year in Houston and our sons heading along the same billet-future track, paying it forward is good karma,” said Daphne.

Daniels Murnieks with the puck (RoughRiders)

The Pattons supply every need these players have, even emotionally, Daphne stated,

“Watching them grow up is my favorite part. We ‘parent’ them through homesickness, break-ups, adversity on the ice, being scratched from a game, getting sick, fighting with their parents and getting to be the ones encouraging them to keep pushing forward. We get to celebrate their successes like when they sign NLIs with their dream colleges or have NHL scouts sniffing around. Being in the stands and cheering when they score, it’s such an amazing feeling.”

The Pattons stay in contact with the former players they have hosted, and the bond between the players and the Pattons remains.

“The boys that lived with us two years ago still call and snap at me all the time because they know they will forever be a part of our family and we will forever be behind them cheering them on in life,” Daphne added.

I really like to live with Pattons, they are the best billet family I could ask for. I feel like home here, they’ve been really nice and helpful with everything . They’ve been treating me like I’m one of their children.”

— Daniels Murniek

Daniels Murniek, is playing his first year with the RoughRiders, and is one of the players staying with the Pattons. Murnieks came all the way from Riga, Latvia. This has been a large transition for the young player.

“Probably one of the biggest changes is that I’m not living with my family. It was a little bit weird at the start but now I feel like home. There is a different lifestyle than in Europe but I’m starting to get used to that.” Murnieks stated. “I really like to live with Pattons, they are the best billet family I could ask for. I feel like home here, they’ve been really nice and helpful with everything . They’ve been treating me like I’m one of their children.”

Hosting RoughRiders has been a positive experience for the Patton family and they plan on continuing hosting in the future.