Player of Year Jake Crespi of Brighton nearly quit hockey – Livingston Daily
Brighton’s Jake Crespi is the Livingston County Player of the Year after winning Mr. Hockey and a state championship. He reflects on his high school career and how he almost quit the sport two years ago.
BRIGHTON — Jake Crespi was almost done with hockey.
Years spent struggling to climb the ladder of success in the sport had robbed him of his passion for the game.
After his sophomore year at Brighton, the decision facing Crespi wasn’t whether to leave AAA hockey to play for his high school.
It was whether to play at all.
“I was going to be done with hockey,” he said. “I almost quit.”
A call from Brighton assistant coach Kurt Kivisto changed everything.
“He said to come out and have some fun for the high school team,” Crespi recalls. “I came in and started finding my love for the game a little bit. Once we got to the playoffs last year, just the whole run to the finals was incredible. As soon as we lost, I knew I wanted to come back and finish what we started.”
Had Crespi followed through on his inclination to quit hockey, he would have missed out on so much. He wouldn’t have played in two state championship games. He wouldn’t have won a state championship as a senior. He wouldn’t have been named Mr. Hockey as the top player in Michigan. He wouldn’t have a scholarship to play NCAA Division I hockey at Lake Superior State University.
And he wouldn’t be Player of the Year in talent-rich Livingston County, which had eight first-team All-Staters and three of the state’s six Dream Team selections.
Looking back on Crespi’s accomplishments, it’s hard to believe that feelings of inferiority nearly forced him out of hockey.
“It was more the confidence thing,” he said. “I started thinking I wasn’t where I was supposed to be for my age. I started looking at other players committing, getting all the junior looks and all the college stuff. I thought other kids were set apart from me. I didn’t think I had anything special.”
The coaches who voted him the top high school player in Michigan begged to differ.
“Coming into high school against maybe not as elite talent, I had a chance to grow my skills and just to find that confidence again in myself and my abilities,” Crespi said. “I ended up discovering I’m not too bad of a skater. It was good.”
Making Crespi’s achievements even more remarkable is the fact he played all season with a torn labrum in his shoulder, an injury that will require surgery on April 6.
“I wouldn’t say it limited me too much in the beginning,” Crespi said. “When we played (Livonia) Stevenson for the third time, that’s when it started getting really bad. I just had to start being more cautious. I wasn’t able to play as aggressive and physical as I could. I wouldn’t say it limited me, necessarily, more than I limited myself, because I couldn’t injure it any more.”
Despite the injury, Crespi was Brighton’s leading scorer by a 21-point margin with 30 goals and 29 assists in 31 games.
Crespi had 50 goals and 47 assists in 55 career games, ranking second in career points among players who were with the Bulldogs for only two seasons.
He expects to play a year or two of junior hockey before going to Lake Superior State. His preference is to play in the United States Hockey League, which holds its Phase II draft on May 2. Plan B is to play for Chilliwack in the British Columbia Hockey League.
Wherever his hockey career takes him, it will be difficult to top the experience of playing for Brighton.
“Incredible,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a better hockey experience out there. You get to play in front of your whole school. You get to play in front of your community, and you’re basically a local hero.”