Lerg Wins Senior Class Award
CHN Staff Report
WASHINGTON, D.C. Michigan State goaltender Jeff Lerg, the nation’s leader in saves and a national champion as a sophomore in 2007, was been selected winner of the 2009 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award.
The award, chosen by a nationwide vote of coaches, media and fans, is presented annually to college hockey’s outstanding NCAA Division I senior student-athlete. The announcement and trophy presentation were made today by Lowe’s during the NCAA Men’s Frozen Four in Washington, D.C.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award identifies personal qualities "that define a complete student-athlete, with criteria including excellence in the classroom, character and community, as well as competition on the ice."
“Being a four-year student-athlete at Michigan State has provided me so many opportunities and given me a lifetime of memories,” Lerg said. “I received my education, was able to be a part of one of the storied programs in college hockey and we were able to win a national championship. So many people played a part in getting me where I am today, so the community outreach was important to me as well, as a chance to give back to the campus and surrounding communities that supported me and my teammates. Thanks to Lowe’s for sponsoring this award as well as the people who voted for me.”
Lerg was seen a the Frozen Four on Thursday with a crutch, and revealed that he played down the stretch of this season with a torn knee ligament. That, he said, is setting him back in an attempt to sign with an NHL team, though he said teams are just waiting to see how his recovery goes.
“Jeff is such a unique individual,” said Rick Comley, Michigan State’s head coach. “There is no question he is the most prepared student-athlete I have ever seen in my 36 years as a head coach. His attention to detail, his commitment to doing everything in his life the right way and the balance he is able to find between his preparation to compete, his academic work and his community involvement is just remarkable. I cannot believe anyone would better represent what we all want our student-athletes to be as competitors, students and citizens than the way Jeff Lerg has for Michigan State University.”
As a senior, Lerg led the country in saves with 1,050 and became the CCHA’s all-time saves leader in the last week of the regular season. His 3,996 career saves place him second all-time on the NCAA’s career list. The Spartans captain compiled a 2.94 goals against average and .917 save percentage in his senior season. In his career, Lerg’s .921 save percentage ranks second all-time in the MSU annals and ties for 15th all-time in the NCAA record book.
Lerg’s impact has extended into the classroom and community as well. An Academic All-American and CCHA Scholar Athlete of the Year, he carries a 3.75 grade-point-average as a finance major. Lerg, who will graduate this spring, has posted a 4.0 GPA in two semesters.
Recently named co-recipient of the ninth annual Ilitch Humanitarian Award as the CCHA’s top citizen, Lerg has put in countless hours on community service projects. He became passionate in developing a mentoring relationship with several young boys through the Big Brothers program and the Spartans Buddies program. While mentoring these boys, Lerg was inspired to get involved with raising money for the “Cure Kids Cancer” campaign.
His long list of other community activities includes the American Lung Association (Blow the Whistle on Asthma), Children’s Miracle Network, Make A Change (collecting money at home football games for cancer research), Project Read at local elementary schools, “Jump Start Your Heart” (health and fitness), Junior Spartan Tailgate, “Fall into Fitness” (promoting health and wellness), Trick or Treating for Kids with Cancer, Teams for Toys (team adopts a local family every Christmas), Family Skate Night with local elementary schools, the CCHA’s Have Fun, Play Hockey clinics, participated in fundraising wheelchair hockey games for a local wheelchair hockey team, MSU Athletics Fan Fest and served as a celebrity speaker for Hike For Hospice.