By McGill Reporter Staff
A new financial award in Athletics and Recreation – known as the Jean Béliveau Award – will recognize and support top McGill student-athletes as well as honour the memory of the legendary Montreal Canadiens captain and inspirational community leader.
Several important McGill donors (George Lengvari and Terry Tretiak of Lengvari Capital, The Rossy Family Foundation, the Joe Weider Foundation, Power Corporation and the Martlet Foundation) were instrumental in establishing the endowment, which is expected to generate approximately $25,000 a year. Those funds will be used for awards for up to four full-time varsity student-athletes (two men and two women) who have demonstrated academic achievement and leadership in student and/or community affairs.
“All donors agreed that this was an appropriate way to honour a friend and a great Canadian,” said George Lengvari (BCL’66), Chairman of Lengvari Capital Ltd. and a former captain of the McGill men’s basketball team. “The timing of the announcement of these awards coincides with the 10th anniversary of Jean receiving his honorary degree from McGill and it is a fitting tribute to his legacy as a remarkable athlete and someone who gave back so much to the community.”
The inaugural winners of the Jean Béliveau Awards are two Education students, Mélodie Daoust and Joel Houle. Daoust, a Canadian Olympian and captain of the McGill women’s hockey team, combines on-ice excellence with off-ice leadership as a community ambassador for McGill Athletics and Recreation, as well as being involved with numerous youth sports camps and clinics. Houle, a tight end and co-captain with the McGill football team, complements his gridiron achievements with volunteer work at several Montreal hospitals.
“The University is honoured to have Jean Béliveau’s name linked to the athletic excellence and community leadership of our students,” Marc Gélinas, Executive Director of Athletics and Recreation, said. “We are very grateful for the support and generosity of our donors in establishing these prestigious awards and they will be a centrepiece of our recognition of student-athletes at McGill.”
Béliveau skated for 18 seasons with the Canadiens from 1953-1971; he was a member of 10 Stanley Cup-winning teams as a player and seven more as an executive with the team. Off the ice, Béliveau supported charities in Quebec and throughout Canada.
In 2003, the Montreal Canadiens introduced the Jean Béliveau Trophy, which is awarded to the Canadiens player who best demonstrates community involvement and spirit.
“Le Gros Bill” died Dec. 2, 2014, in Longueuil.