By Vivian Collings
It was a year of getting “back to normal” in the world of sports at Haliburton Highlands Secondary School.
Red Hawks athletes and coaches were reconized for outstanding performance and dedication during the school’s annual Athletic Ceremony on Wednesday, June 14.
“This year is extra special because it is the first time in three years that we have been able to gather together and celebrate Red Hawk athletics since before the pandemic. It’s hard to believe, but this is the first time our Grade 12 Red Hawk athletes have attended our Athletic Ceremony,” said Department of Physical Health and Education teacher Janice Scheffee said during her opening remarks.
Sports that took place at HHSS in the fall this year were girls basketball, cross country running, girls field hockey, golf, boys soccer, and boys volleyball.
Winter sports came next with Nordic skiing, boys basketball, girls volleyball, and wrestling, ending with badminton, girls soccer, and track and field in the spring.
Awards were given to celebrate athletes on each team showing distinguished leadership and improvement, and major awards were given at the end of the ceremony.
Athletes of the year were Ivan Zagorsky and Emerson Wilson, both in Grade 12.
Zagorsky started school at HHSS in 2021 and quickly showed his passion and dedication for sports.
“All the years I’ve practiced and worked on sports, it just means a lot. This shows that if you work hard for something, you can definitely achieve it,” Zagorsky said to the Echo.
Wilson said team sports were one of her favourite parts of going to school at Hal High.
“It feels amazing. I’ve put in so much work over the years, and I love sports, especially team sports,” Wilson said about winning athlete of the year. “I love the feeling of winning it together and working together. [Winning athlete of the year] is a validation of all that hard work, the extra time and effort that I put in over the years.”
Although the two athletes were involved in many sports, their time playing soccer stood out to each of them.
“In Grade 11, I thought there would never be a [boys] soccer team while I was here. It was seven years ago they last had one. My favourite memory is having the impact of starting a soccer team again this year, in my Grade 12 year,” Zagorsky said.
Becoming a Kawartha champion alongside the girls varsity soccer team was a moment Wilson will always cherish.
“Going in, we all had such low expectations because we were a varsity team. Last year, we didn’t do very well, and we were all out there to have fun, and I think that’s why we performed well. We just weren’t putting so much pressure on ourselves and just wanted to do our best,” Wilson said.
Zagorsky’s plan for the future is to become a police officer after pursuing a trades apprenticeship first.
Wilson is sad to be leaving HHSS behind, but is excited for the future.
“I’m ready to go off and see what else the world has to offer,” she said.
She will be attending the University of Waterloo for an undergraduate degree in biochemistry.
By Vivian Collings