By Darren Lum
Isaac Little this year’s Male Athlete of the Year for Haliburton Highlands Secondary School is an inspiring force for teammates and coaches appreciated for his athletic prowess and the way he carried himself off and on the track trail or ice.
Coach Karen Gervais introduced him as a “self motivator a leader and inspiration to others.”
“He demonstrates his Red Hawk pride with his sportsman-like attitude and by giving back to the sporting community. He has unyielding determination incredible stamina and takes challenges head on and despite being made of grit this Blairhampton boy stays true to himself his dreams and his own individuality” she said.
She said Little’s success was tied to setting goals which included an OFSAA berth in cross-country. His performance at the COSSA cross-country meet at Ganaraska Forest this past autumn was his best performance she said. He not only earned a third place and a place at the all-provincials but he did it with a gutsy finish which enabled him to beat runners he had never beat before.
The Grade 12 student was an assistant captain with the Red Hawks hockey team and also earned all-provincial trips in track and field. He holds school records in the junior boys 3000 metres and in the steeple chase event.
Gervais outlined how to be a great athlete “Isaac style” which means setting goals; finding things that motivate; staying mentally tough; working hard and never quitting; recognizing you’re only as good as the team behind you; listening to and respecting your coaches; showing sportsmanship and integrity; smiling having a good attitude; challenging your limits; winning; staying true to yourself; doing it with style; and continuing to grow.
Appropriately the runner learned about his award after he completed a workout and his stretching routine following a four-kilometre run. He said it was just him and his dog in the living room.
“As soon as I saw Karen Gervais and heard her talk about running I was pretty confident that she was talking about me which was really exciting” he said. “I was smiling so big. I was grinning like a dog in the barnyard. I was a little shocked. I actually didn’t think I was going to get it. Things happened. School was here. But I was ecstatic. I’ve worked ever since Grade 9. I wanted it and worked until finally I got it which I’m ecstatic about.”
He said when he graduated from J. Douglas Hodgson Elementary School he earned Male Athlete of Year honours. It motivated him to repeat the honour in Grade 12.
Little joins his cousins Erin and Jamie and his uncle Alex (their father) as athletes of the year. They are part of the Wall of Honour in the athletic facility.
“Every time I went in the gym hall I looked on that wall and I decided I was going to be on that wall. I wanted to be there as much as anything. I feel like it’s an honour to represent Haliburton that way and to be recognized by the coaches and my peers being top athlete is huge and it feels great” he said.
He is thankful to his coaches Karen Gervais Kyra Cockwell Russ Duhaime Jason Morissette all his teammates and particularly his dad for his help in getting him to practices.
Unlike Female Athlete of the Year winner Emma Casey who is graduating he expects to return to school next year and is not going to study to be a paramedic at Loyalist College this autumn because of the online education he would have received.
His plan is to spend the year working hard on earning university level courses at the high school so he can be eligible to attend university. Last year York University offered him a track and cross country scholarship. He wasn’t able to accept it because he lacked university level high school courses.
Motivation he said is key to success.
“You just got to find a way to get yourself going and push yourself and that’s all you really can do is give it your best” he said.
His advice to other athletes is to keep one thing in focus.
“Make it fun. If it’s not fun then don’t do it” he said.