Kole Lind is still figuring out that it takes a lot longer to cook his meal than it takes to eat it.
“At first I was really surprised. I thought it was gonna be a 10-20-minute thing,” he said. “You gotta start preparing the meals like an hour before. It’s a big change.”
The first-year pro is 20 years old and, for the first time, is living without the help of parents or billets. While hockey is hockey and the schedule is very similar to what he is used to, Lind is learning that it’s the lifestyle changes that have been the most challenging.
“You have pretty much the same schedule wherever you go,” he noted. “But with the city changes come bigger changes. Going without a billet family and without your mom and dad around is a big change too. It’s come with a lot of maturing this year.”
A billet is a family that provides room and board to junior players all throughout North America. They provide a home, meals, and embrace the player as one of their own children. Once you go pro, players aren’t provided those same luxuries, and it’s sink or swim when it comes to growing up.
Slowly but surely, Lind is adjusting to life as an independent adult.
“With a billet, you’re used to being able to show up and the food is just ready for you,” Lind said. “Now you’ve got a whole process towards it all and you gotta go out and buy groceries and there’s so many things that you just don’t take into account at first.”
It hasn’t been without help, and he’s getting loads from his roommate Evan McEneny, a fourth-year pro who’s seasoned at the “real world.”
“I remember the first time we went to the grocery store and I was lost,” Lind said, chuckling. “I didn’t have a clue. I knew to read the signs up top but I’d walk down every aisle because I didn’t know what I was looking for. I would buy like three bags of chips… I was eating horrible.”
The native of a small town in Saskatchewan, Lind is used to being recognized, and in Utica it’s no different. When you’re a Utica Comet, it’s hard to fly under the radar. Especially when you’re at a very public place like the grocery store.
“It’s happened a couple of times,” he said, referring to being recognized at the grocery store. “Utica is not a huge city and the Comets are pretty well known all around and it’s really cool.”
Now, chef Kole doesn’t eat horrible, and can navigate the grocery store like a veteran. And when the time comes that he has to whip up a meal to impress, there’s always a go-to dish.
“Steak, medium rare, and bacon-wrapped scallops.”