He has yet to don Maroon and Grey, but Pawel Jedrzejewski is already demonstrating that he has the character to succeed at McMaster.
The Hamilton product, who starred at Cathedral High School as a left side, has added two more accolades to his growing total, after being awarded the Tom Leon Charitable Foundation Bursary at the Hamilton-Wentworth District Catholic School Board’s annual Student Awards Evening on June 4. Jedrzejewski had recently received a Character Athlete Award from the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations in May.
The bursary is awarded to a male and a female student each year to offset tuition costs. Recipients are chosen on the basis of community, parish and extracurricular involvement, the overcoming of a personal challenge, and a candidate’s financial need.
Jedrzejewski says the award – which will cover almost his first-year tuition – has given him peace of mind as he sizes up his postsecondary education.
“[The bursary] takes a massive load off of my mind. Any amount of money that I get, I try to save toward my education. This is a lot of money, and it’s going to help me out so much, because it’s basically going to cover my first year.”
Jedrzejewski received the Jeff Dickins Award – presented to an athlete in the Greater Hamilton Area who best combines athletic excellence, academic achievement and community involvement – courtesy of the Hamilton Spectator on Jan. 28. Dickins, a sports writer at The Spec, particularly enjoyed covering amateur sports. He died unexpectedly in 2003 at the age of 48
Jedrzejewski, a the three-year veteran of the Mountain Athletic Club, is projected to compete as a libero for the Ontario University Athletics Marauders in the fall, having committed to McMaster in January. His experience has largely come on the outside, but Jedrzejewski has been honing his defensive skills on his own time since his high school career with Cathedral Gaels ended in the fall. He has also practised with the Marauders on occasion since his commitment, and worked toward his transition with McMaster head coach Dave Preston.
But Jedrzejewski knows that a certain amount of his adaptation will have to happen in competition.
“It’s going to be a matter of jumping in and finding out what the role looks like when I get there,” he admits. “It’s an exciting position and a big job that I’m looking forward to doing.”
Of course, the prospect of joining a team that wiped the OUA floor and stormed to a national final this past year only adds to Jedrzejewski’s excitement. The Marauders’ young core should hold out for years to come, and the incoming rookie understands that the sky is the limit for his new squad.
“It’s breathtaking to see a team with such abilities,” Jedrzejewski says. “You expected them to finish in the top two in the OUA, but to go into the CIS tournament with such a strong vision and drive for gold was incredible. It was heartbreaking for them to lose in the end, but it also opened everyone’s eyes and showed what Dave is trying to do with the program. It showed that we could go further, and I’m really excited to be a part of that.”
His competitive debut will have to wait until October, but in the meantime, Jedrzejewski is both training and getting to know his new teammates, and is pleased by what he has seen so far.
“I’ve been talking with a lot of the guys and trying to get to know them on a personal level, not just as future teammates,” he says. “Every time that I talk with them and play with them, I’m creating a bond with them, and I’m looking forward to building that even more as I come to McMaster. I’m really looking forward to joining that family in the fall.