Amarillo hockey dad making an impact as a billet for the Wranglers

Amarillo hockey dad making an impact as a billet for the Wranglers
Published: Dec. 26, 2022 at 4:59 PM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - When Tom Tortoreo moved to Amarillo, the last thing on his mind was hockey.

Little did he know, his five-year-old son was about to change that.

“I was raised in a football family, and it was time to get [my son] to start playing football, that was the natural progression,” Tortoreo said. “He said, ‘Dad, I don’t want to play football.’ I said, ‘Well you’re going to have to play something,’ and he said, ‘I want to play hockey.’ I said ‘Hockey?!’”

It was a blessing in disguise for Tortoreo, affectionately called Tommy Tee by those who know him.

After tragically losing his oldest daughter, Tommy and his family turned to hockey, becoming a billet family, a family that houses Amarillo hockey players from around the world.

“Because of that tragedy of the awful thing that occurred when we lost our daughter, out of that came a lot of good things,” Tommy said. “My association with Hope and Healing, some inner growth, and becoming a billet family. It’s changed our lives.”

Through the Amarillo Bulls and Amarillo Wranglers, Tommy Tee has been making an impact on hockey players for years.

He told me one story about an international player he hosted who is currently working to return to America.

“The hardest thing about being a billet is saying goodbye,” Tommy said. “I’ll never forget it. Both he and I were outside the front of the house. He just started crying like he was three years old. I held him and he held me, I told him I love him. I talk to him at least once a week, he’s doing fantastic. He will recognize the American Dream.”

By being a hockey dad and a billet, Tommy Tee is proving how sports matter on and off the ice.