Erlich’s dedication, hard work recognized by Marauders basketball


In celebration of a terrific season that saw them back in the national tournament, the McMaster men’s basketball team took some time to hand out its annual team awards on March 16, and for the first time a member of the staff was honoured as the recipient of the Liam Stevens Award. The award was presented at the Marauder Basketball Courtside Club annual year-end banquet.

The award is named for Liam Stevens, who passed away in February 2001, at the age of 22 months. It has become a prestigious award within the McMaster program and is presented annually to the Marauder player who best exemplifies the qualities of positive attitude, hard work, and determination overcoming obstacles.

The 2014 recipient is team manager Jason Erlich.

Jay Erlich, left, receives Liam Stevens Award from Coach Amos Connolly.  (Photo: McMaster Athletics)

Jay Erlich, left, receives Liam Stevens Award from Coach Amos Connolly. (Photo: McMaster Athletics)

Jason arrived at McMaster four years ago and tried out for the team as a walk-on. Despite tremendous enthusiasm, he did not make the Marauder varsity squad. In 2013 Erlich asked coach Amos Connolly if he could work with varsity players outside of practice, and he began to serve as a rebounder for any players that wanted to work on their shooting.

He spent countless hours in the Burridge Gym, tracking down shots for whoever needed a shooting partner. This past season he was installed as the team manager, and approached the position with incredible diligence and zeal. He took on numerous duties, performing above the call of duty, and never refused any request to work with the players before or after practice.

Connolly calls him incredibly dedicated to the team and the position he holds.

Previous winners include Doug Doyle (2000/2001), Justin Boye (2001/2002), Charles Kissi (2002/2003), Steve Martin (2003/2004), Matt Wood (2004/2005), Jeremy Patry (2005/2006), Martin Ajayi and Adam Steiner (2006/2007), Joe Polizzi (2007/2008), Aminu Bello (2008/2009), Jordan Tew (2009/2010), and Victor Raso (2010/2011), Scott Laws & Ryan Maynard (2011/2012) and Nathan Pelech (2012/2013)

“Liam was a remarkable child,” said Dale Stevens. “He was faced with many obstacles in his short life, including open heart surgery, developmental delays, and other medical issues. But through it all, Liam was the happiest, most determined child in the world.”

Following his passing, his parents, Angela, an elementary school teacher, and Dale, a long-time McMaster University Accountant and avid Marauder supporter, decided to honour him. In addition to the Liam Stevens Award, a fund was established in his name at the McMaster Children’s Hospital. For more information about the fund, or to donate, please contact Dale Stevens at stevensd@mcmaster.ca

In addition to the Liam Stevens Award, the Marauder coaching staff also presented the annual team awards to the 2013-14 Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player and Most Valuable Player.

The award winners were: Most Valuable Player, Taylor Black; Most Improved Player, Nathan McCarthy; and Rookie of the Year, Trevon McNeil.

In addition to Jay Erlich ‘s honour, Marauders players receiving awards were, left to right, Most Valuable Player, Taylor Black; Most Improved Player, Nathan McCarthy; and Rookie of the Year, Trevon McNeil. (Photo: McMaster Athletics)

In addition to Jay Erlich ‘s honour, Marauders players receiving awards were, left to right, Most Valuable Player, Taylor Black; Most Improved Player, Nathan McCarthy; and Rookie of the Year, Trevon McNeil. (Photo: McMaster Athletics)