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Bray Crowder: Very good player; even better person
2021-08-20
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“I want people to say that I’m a good person before they say I’m a good hockey player.”

Considering that Bray Crowder is preparing for his senior year with the Miami (of Ohio) Redhawks and has already attended a rookie camp with the Vegas Golden Knights, that would be saying a lot.

It’s not just words. The 22 year-old 6’5” blueliner embodies this approach into every single interaction – in sport, or in life.

“I think you should strive to leave an impact everywhere that you go,” said the eldest of three boys in the family that still calls Sudbury home. “What people think of me as a person trumps what people think of me as a hockey player.”

A talented multi-sport athlete throughout his time in northern Ontario, Crowder is keeping his options open these days. “I think that hockey is still very feasible for me,” he said, spending the summer with his girlfriend and her family in sunny San Diego. “Coach is giving me every opportunity that is needed, and I just have to run with it.”

“But it helps that I’m leaving with a great business degree.”

While the upcoming hockey campaign would normally spell the end of his time as an NCAA varsity athlete, COVID kind of messed things up a little – as some of you may have heard.

“If this year goes how I want it to go, I won’t need the fifth year – but it’s also nice to have the option of getting my masters degree, another paper that will help me so much in the future,” said Crowder.

If he comes across as something of a gentle giant, that is not at all out of character. His play on the ice often mirrors the same thoughtful and introspective manner in which he tackles the interview questions that are thrown his way.

“I have a very calm and poised personality, so it transfers well to being a defenseman who can kind of control the play, making smart decisions,” said Crowder. Still, there is something of a dichotomy at play when you dig further into the outlets that the accomplished golfer enjoys away from the rink.

“I love any high adrenaline activities like cliff jumping and water skiing, and surfing down here,” he said. “I go any chance that I get. Maybe it’s because I am so calm and not worried about much that it’s those things that give me that quick thrill. Even if you look at cliff jumping, at home on the lakes, I’m never that guy who is scared.”

Within the hockey setting and the analogy it provides, Crowder lives for the thrill of overtime.

“There are the people who want to get out there, and others who are almost scared to get out there, especially with three on three,” he stated. “There’s so much less room for error. I actually love going out there with a lot more ice.”

Post hockey, it’s easy to see Crowder in a business environment, leading his employees in much the same manner he impacts the dressing room. “I would put a major emphasis on the lifestyle of my employees, their work-life balance,” he said. “I would make sure the workplace is light, fun, and never dull.”

“I look at the workplace the same way as a hockey dressing room – when people want to be there, there’s a different vibe.”

There is little doubt that the lens through which Crowder views the world around him is, like most people, influenced by those closest to him. He hesitates not a bit in highlighting his inspiration.

“It seems crazy to say, but my mom is my best friend,” said Crowder. “We share so many of the same perspectives. She has taught me amazing life lessons, the importance of mindset and positivity. She is simply a great person to strive to be like.”

They still talk almost daily, perhaps reminiscing on the memories of a wonderful sojourn following his time with the Golden Knights. “I was only going to be in Vegas once, so I put all of my per diem on black – and won, so I funded my entire trip along the coast with my mom,” Crowder recalled.

It’s where he first encountered surfing – “it was very humbling” - this from the lad who still displays an uncanny amount of natural athleticism.

“Our team does the beep test and I still win,” he said with a smile. “Despite all the size and weight I’ve put on, I still have managed to keep the running aspect (where he excelled as a child). The long legs, I think, are a real advantage.”

Bray Crowder is a pretty special athlete, indeed; but as those closest to him will attest, he’s an even better person.

And that is just the way he likes it.

Sudbury Wolves