How would you like to live in three cities in three years?
Might sound like fun, huh?
On top of that, you’re surrounded by complete strangers in each of those places.
And those complete strangers are considered your family members.
These families aren’t exactly bandits, mind you. Rent is relatively cheap and plenty of food is provided.
Word is that the hospitality is top-notch too and you’ll have all the fixins you’ll ever need.
Keep in mind that if things do get a bit testy between you and your family members, well, good luck finding a place to sleep.
Of course, that might not be much of an issue since your hobby requires extensive travel on a regular basis.
So who on earth would choose such a bizarre way of life?
Meet 20-year-old Max Cole, a 2017 Hudson graduate who is perfectly comfortable engaging in "icy" relationships.
Well, as long as the ice is about three-fourths of an inch thick and is chilled at temperatures that dip considerably south of the freezing point.
Oh, and if the ice needs to "resurface," a certain four-wheeled machine that looks similar to a military surplus cargo truck should do the trick.
In case you haven’t figured it out, Cole is a lifelong hockey player who led the Explorers to a school-record 24 wins as a senior.
The standout center/wing loves the sport so much that he is willing to lead a nomadic lifestyle just so he can skate, shoot and occasionally, clean someone’s clock into a certain glass-like structure.
Is it worth it, though? Sounds a bit chaotic and more importantly, lonely for the average person, right?
"It’s a little weird at first," Cole said. "You kind of have nothing to do. You have to know how to make the most of the situation. There’s a lot of stuff you have to do on your own. It’s a good experience because it forces you out of your comfort zone."
Let’s just say being uncomfortable has been the norm for this stick-handling dynamo.
Cole recently completed his third year of Junior Hockey, a level of competitive ice hockey generally for players who range from 16 to 21 years of age.
He played for the New York-based Rochester Monarchs, who compete in the National Collegiate Development Conference, after spending time in Canada the previous season.
Cole, who also was an All-Ohio attackman for Hudson’s lacrosse team, was a member of the Ontario-based Brampton Admirals during his stay in the Great White North.
Prior to crossing the border, Cole skated for the Islanders Hockey Club, which makes it home in Tyngsborough, Massachusetts.
By the way, Cole helped the Islanders reach the United States Premier Hockey League semifinals. He got to experience postseason play with the Admirals too.
"My first year, I started out in the lowest league," Cole said. "I did really well. I also did really well in a tryout when I moved up to the Canadian League my second year.
"From the first year to the second year, the competition got a lot tougher. In the third year, the competition was a little better than the second year."
Once he left the rink, spending time at home was a bit more complicated for Cole than the rest of us.
That’s because Cole’s families didn’t exactly resemble "The Simpsons" or "The Brady Bunch."
Instead, Cole is part of what’s known as a billet, a family of hockey enthusiasts who provide housing and support to young men who left their homes to pursue their favorite winter sport.
"It’s an apartment or a hockey house," Cole said. "I’ve lived with a family for each season. I’ve paid a certain amount for each month. There’s always food in the house."
What are these families like, one might ask?
Fortunately for Cole, they have been very welcoming. In other words, think Ward Cleaver instead of Tony Soprano.
"My first year, I was with a mom and a kid," Cole said. "My second year, I was with a married couple and they were in their early 30s. Last year, I was with a full family: mom, dad, daughter, two other kids who were out of the house and two dogs."
Not all of Cole’s recent "family members" have needed name tags. One of his teammates has lived with the families as well.
And don’t call Cole a freeloader.
When he’s away from home and is not attempting to put the "biscuit in the basket" at least 50 games per season, Cole can usually be found performing various tasks at the rink for a modest paycheck.
"It’s hard to get a regular job," Cole said. "I either help out at the rinks or at camps."
Nowadays, Cole’s life as a puck-craving gypsy is on the verge of becoming extinct.
He recently signed to continue his ice hockey career at Salem State University, a Division III school in Massachusetts.
The Vikings, led by head coach William O’Neill, finished 4-15-1 overall and 4-9-5 in the Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference during the winter. Sadly, their season was cut short due to a deadly respiratory tract infection known as the coronavirus.
Regardless of these harsh circumstances, Cole’s trial period with his new team isn’t expected to be anything like the one that took place in Essex County nearly 330 years ago.
"I loved the coach," Cole said. "He’s one of the nicest guys. I loved the area too. They didn’t have the best year, but their top five or six players were freshmen and sophomores. They’re bound to be good."
When Cole enrolls at the 166-year-old public university, he’ll experience something that hasn’t been a part of his life since he roamed the halls at Hudson High School.
"It will be a little different, but I’ve gotten to know people from different states and different countries," said Cole, who plans to major in business. "It shouldn’t be a problem. What’s funny is, since the freshman hockey players also played Junior Hockey, they are the oldest freshmen on campus since the rest of the freshman students are 18."
Despite his departure from his hometown more than three years ago, Cole has stayed in touch with his Northeast Ohio pals.
When he decided to give Junior Hockey a try, Cole reached out to his former high school coach, Caleb Wyse, a Curry College graduate in nearby Milton.
"He played Division III hockey in Massachusetts," Cole said. "He has helped me a lot. I hang out with [former Explorers’ teammate] Chandler Kotseos. I’m still close with some of my high school guys."
One might want to forgive Cole if he resembles Chuck Noland in the 2000 film "Cast Away" when he strolls around Salem State’s 115-acre campus later in the year.
Living a normal life in one place for more than six months will definitely take some getting used to.
In this case, though, Cole won’t be stranded on an uninhabited island.
And his next "family member" won’t be some volleyball either.
"After high school, I originally wanted to play college lacrosse," Cole said. "I thought about which sport I wanted to stop playing.
"I’ve been playing hockey since I was 3. I’ve had a love for hockey a lot longer than I did for lacrosse."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_Gannett.