Liam Little has come a long way from learning to toss rocks at the Minden Curling Club.

The 22-year-old wrapped up his three-year career as a Mohawk College Mountaineer at an April 2 end-of-season athletics banquet. He took home three awards for his contributions to the school’s curling program, playing lead.

Little was named co-male athlete of the year, alongside his curling teammates, after securing a third straight provincial college championship this year; an Athlete of Distinction award for his highlevel performances this season; and the prestigious Dr. Sam Mitminger Award – presented to one graduating male and female student athlete who has achieved consistent academic and athletic excellence throughout the time at Mohawk.

Earning a rare individual triple crown was completely unexpected for Little.

“I was informed about a week before about the Mitminger award – it’s sort of like the valedictorian award for student athletes. That was a great honour. I was just blown away to even be considered,” Little said. “I thought I was done after that.”

Later in the evening, he was called onto the stage again to receive his distinction award, which was accompanied by a framed Mountaineers curling jersey – something Little said he’ll cherish for the rest of his life.

The real kicker came at the end of the night, when the men’s curling team were announced as co-winners of the male athlete of the year award. After securing another Ontario title in February, Little and his teammates earned silver at nationals, in New Brunswick in March.

“That was the biggest surprise. There’s so many deserving athletes at Mohawk – to win best male athlete was just the cherry on top of the icing on top of the cake,” Little said. “It’s cool knowing that one will be in the books forever, and that I get to share it with my teammates.”

Little was a toddler when he first took up curling, progressing his skills at the Minden rink and in Haliburton, where he joined the local club’s youth curling program. It was there he met Jacob Dobson, who would become Little’s teammate at Haliburton Highlands Secondary School.

There, the two were part of a team that qualified for two OFSAA events, also winning a provincial invitational. The pair have spent the past three seasons locking horns at the collegiate level, with Dobson representing the Humber Hawks – the team that edged Mohawk in the past two national championships.

“We sat down and had a drink together at nationals – we joked that provincials was my thing, and nationals was his thing. It’s been a heck of a ride since high school,” Little noted.

He’ll be graduating from Mohawk’s practical nursing program in the next couple of weeks, and then taking a year off to travel. After getting a taste of professional curling this year, competing at the 2024 Ontario Tankard – a qualifier for the Brier – Little said he dreams of one day turning pro.

“I’d love nothing more than to get back to that level… I have faith this year off will be good for me, and I’ll get back on the ice next year and see how far I can go,” Little said.