Jake Veri will be the answer to a TPH Center of Excellence trivia question in the coming years.
He is the first student-athlete to receive an invitation to a NHL team development camp right out of the CoE.
The long-time Detroit CoE member was invited to the Columbus Blue Jackets development camp last week, and upon his return, he said it was a remarkable experience.
“When I got there, it was kind of surreal,” said Veri, a Northville, Mich., native. “Being one of the younger guys at the camp, and all of the older guys there, guys you look up to, they were all great guys. They helped me along, and they teach you how much the details mean and all the little things and just what it takes. Every day, you have to be putting work in, or somebody’s going to pass you. It really was a reality check in the fact that you think you’re doing enough, and then you go there and you see what these NHL guys who are already in the league and what they do every day just to stay in the league – the skills and the skating was phenomenal and it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed every minute of it.”
Veri, who has signed with the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs for the upcoming 2019-2020 season, was a free-agent invite to the camp. Putting on a Blue Jackets jersey and the corresponding red and blue gear was a dream come true, despite one small hang-up for the 5-foot-7 forward.
“There really aren’t words for it. Granted, I’m a little bit of a smaller guy, so the gloves and the pants felt a little big, felt like I was wearing my dad’s gear, but it was an amazing feeling. Nothing like it. It makes you more driven to get there, because you see what it’s like and you’re one step closer to every hockey player’s dream when you put that stuff on.”
The five-year CoE alum learned of his camp invite from a phone call with the Blue Jackets’ player development staff; when he told his family, they were ecstatic.
“Obviously they were extremely happy because they’ve seen the work I put in these last five years, going to TPH and how many times growing up I’ve been passed up on because of my size and everything. Just seeing that I have to keep going – it hasn’t fully paid off, it’s a stepping stone and a pat on the back for what I do every day.”
As far as being the first CoE student-athlete to be invited to a camp right out of school, Veri said he’s just honored to be mentioned alongside some of his former classmates.
“It’s amazing. The guys who have went to the CoE, we’ve had draft picks come out of there and they produce just unbelievable players every year. It’s an amazing feeling – Blade Jenkins, Bode Wilde, Will MacKinnon, they have just produced hockey player after hockey player, and it’s just nice to be a part of that group.”
Veri said he’s very excited to seize his opportunity with Chilliwack in the fall.
“Signing Day was insane, like everything else lately. It’s nice to go somewhere where you’re wanted, somewhere where they understand your style of play. They have an amazing coaching staff, coaches who really care about your development and really care about you as a person. I’m really excited to get out there, it’s a beautiful place to be on top of an awesome place to play. It really is amazing.”
And he said he is incredibly grateful for the help from the TPH staff in Detroit throughout his hockey journey.
“Everything I’ve done, on ice, off ice, mental, physical, they were always there. Anything I needed, and if you put in the time, they’ll be there until your last day on the ice. They truly help you in every way and they’ve helped me in ways I can’t even explain, because just being there at the school, you see their dedication and how much they really want to make hockey players, and not just hockey players but good people. At the end of the day, a huge chunk of anything I’ve ever done in my hockey life is because of them.”