Giving student-athletes the freedom to play

George Lengvari Sr. lived by the motto, “You can get anything you want in life if you help others get what they need.”

An educated Hungarian immigrant who came to Canada in 1951, he would eventually find his fortune as a pioneer in the insurance industry, but his journey began with the only job he could find at the time – as a janitor at the McGill Faculty Club.

Today, Lengvari’s motto is reflected through a key gift by his son, George Lengvari Jr., BCL’66, to McGill Athletics and Recreation. The George Lengvari Basketball Awards are presented to top student-athletes to help ease the financial pressures of university life.

“You can either work and go to school, or play basketball,” says David DeAveiro, head coach of the men’s basketball program. “This gift not only helps us attract blue-chip athletes, but it takes a lot of stress off the student by allowing them to concentrate on their studies and their sport. In a sense, they don’t have to get a job to support themselves. That is a considerable burden to take off a kid’s shoulders.”

Because university basketball is becoming such a highly competitive sport, recruitment of top athletes has followed suit. “Without student awards like this, we would not be able to recruit the athletes we would like to,” DeAveiro explains.

Te’Jour Riley, a political science major from Bermuda and Redmen shooting guard, is among the recipients of Lengvari’s generosity. “It was a really big financial help for me,” he says. “Without the money, I probably would be going to community college back home. That scholarship meant a lot for me.”