Haliburton Highlands Secondary School (HHSS) capped off its two-week celebration of athletic achievement by awarding its athlete of the year awards to Emma Casey and Isaac Little.

The school prepared lengthy video tributes to the star athletes June 18 and 19 to end the online edition of its annual athletic awards. Casey and Little earned the female and male athlete awards, respectively. Little competed in sports such as badminton, hockey and cross country. He was the cross-country team MVP and hockey defensive MVP this year.

“I’m honestly ecstatic. I’m over the moon,” Little said. “I have three family members who are up there on the wall and I always aspired to be as good as them.”

Casey competed in volleyball, field hockey, curling, badminton and track and field throughout her career. She earned a volleyball MVP award this year and said it was a long-held dream to be athlete of the year.

“For it to actually happen is just so exciting,” Casey said. “And rewarding for all the work I’ve put into sports for the last four years.”

Coach Steve Smith, who coached Casey in volleyball and field hockey, complimented her athletic drive.

“She is and continues to be very coachable and is a great leader. She made everyone around her better,” Smith said. “She has won many MVPs; she has been a key player in other championships.”

Cross country coach Karen Gervais presented Little with his award and said he approaches sports with passion.

“He has unyielding determination, incredible stamina and takes challenges head on,” she said. “This Blairhampton boy stays true to himself, his dreams and his own individuality.”

Casey said she has not confirmed her postsecondary plans, but she expects she will always be athletic and pursue sports there. She said sports are an outlet for her.

“I knew I just had to go to four classes and then I can go play the game I love playing, whatever season it was at the time,” she said. “It was the way I could just get some frustrations out.”

Little said he may return for an extra year of high school and add to his tally of two school running records. He said sports have always driven him forward and he plans to pursue them in post-secondary.

“I hate losing so I always just pushed myself to do better,” he said. “Sports kept me occupied and also kept me focused in the classroom as well. It’s just a huge part of my life, I’ve made so many memories, so many friends through sport.”

Scheffee concluded the ceremony by thanking everyone who helped make it happen. “We will get through this pandemic together and move on to bigger and better things,” she said. “This too shall pass. Please stay strong and stay healthy.”

Other individual award winners

Female Rising Red Hawk Award: Ava Smith

Coach Janice Scheffee remarks: “She works hard no matter the sport and she raises the level of play for her team and for the competition.”

Male Rising Red Hawk Award: Nick Phippen

Coach Brett Caputo remarks: “He had a fantastic year as a member of the crosscountry team, where he placed third at Kawarthas and third at OFSAA.”

Colin Hood OFSAA Award Deserving Female: Rebecca Archibald

Coach Janice Scheffee remarks: “Competes for the love of sport and the thrill of the fight. She is committed to being the best she can be and she leads by example with her passion, her enthusiasm and her energy.”

Colin Hood OFSAA Award Deserving Male: Liam Little

Coach Brett Caputo remarks: “Not only does he participate and compete but he raises the level of play for his teams around him … Liam has left his mark at Hal High for being an ambassador for fair play, inclusiveness and school spirit.”

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