Red Hawk curlers Jacob Dobson, Liam Little, Corin Gervais and rookie Owen Nichols expected to be competing for another provincial title March 25-28.

Instead, the Haliburton Highlands Secondary School team is stuck at home with the season cut short by the Ontario Federation of School Athletics Association (OFSAA) cancelling its curling championships due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was a successful season for the group, who earned a provincial title at the Ontario School Curling Provincial Championships and followed that up with wins at the Kawartha and COSSA levels. But skip Dobson said the team was excited to participate at the OFSAA championships and hoped to improve on a fifth-place finish last season.

“We’re definitely disappointed that we didn’t get to go,” Dobson said. “We were all really excited that we got the chance to go back and change what we weren’t able to do the previous year.”

Little is in Grade 12 and OFSAA was going to be his last high school tournament. He said the cancellation was hard.

“Just getting it swept out from under was definitely a shocker,” Little said. Coach Darrell Dobson, Jacob’s father, said it was unfortunate considering how short high school careers are.

“We all try to balance this important thing going on in the world that’s more important than a sporting event,” he said. “At the same time, the boys have worked hard for years. The window of opportunity for them isn’t very large.”

Still, Dobson said he was proud of the team’s performance this year, adding they had strong co-operation.

“One of the reasons they’ve been so successful is because all four of the boys have such a really positive attitude,” he said. “They have a high skill level but they’re also very positive, optimistic.”

He added praise for the Haliburton Curling Club’s youth program for the team’s ongoing success. With only one graduating player, the coach said he feels good about next season.

“You can’t replace a Liam Little, he’s a pretty awesome curler,” Dobson said. “But there’s depth in the Haliburton youth curling program and we’re optimistic we can find someone to come and join the team.”

Little said curling is a big part of his life and he hopes to continue in college. Although he said the end of the season was disappointing, he added it was important to put it into perspective what the team achieved this year.

“You can’t help but be proud of yourself because we accomplished so much this season, no matter how short it was.”

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