By Robert Mackenzie
Published June 20 2017
Family was a common theme at Haliburton Highlands Secondary School’s athletic banquet June 13 as Sam Longo and Jamie Little were named the male and female athletes of the year.
“It’s a really big accomplishment” Jamie said. “Athletics have always been a really big part of my life and they help me with everything that I do so it was just a really good feeling to be given this award.” Jamie who is in Grade 12 is the third in her family to win the school’s athlete of the year honours. Her sister Erin won the award in 2015 while her father came home with the trophy in 1986.
“I have had the opportunity to watch this young lady perform and I can say that she is very competitive she has learned a lot from both her teammates and absorbed an enormous amount from the coaches she has had” phys-ed teacher Steve Smith said in a speech. “She exhibits all the attributes of a great leader with team vision integrity and her seemingly calm demeanour passion and patience for both teammates and coaches.”
In his speech Smith also read the words of praise that Jamie’s coaches had given her. Hockey coach and principal Dan Marsden heralded Jamie for always being called upon in the most important and critical times in any game to shut down an opponent on defence. “She was relentless and even when hurt or banged up you could not keep her out of the game” he wrote. “The opponents felt her presence and always knew there were no free passes when she was in front of them.”
For his part Sam Grade 11 played on five teams this year including track golf badminton cross country and basketball.
After giving a speech about Sam and reading the compliments from his coaches cross country coach Russ Duhaime called upon Paul Longo Sam’s father and basketball coach at HHSS to present him the award.
As he accepted the award Sam thanked all of his coaches teammates and family – saving his father for last while fighting back tears. “I’ve got to thank my dad especially for coaching and everything all the hours on the golf course and in the gym. You’re the real MVP” he said.
“He’s just a really great kid works incredibly hard and is a great teammate and just a wonderful kid to coach” Paul said after the ceremony. “He loves athletics it’s a big part of his life and he’s really able to balance his academics with his athletics. It’s a real thrill for him and we’re really proud of him.”
While the night concluded with the athletes of the year announcements there were plenty of other awards that preceded it.
The Award of Excellence was given to Jamie Little and Kendall Marsden last year’s female athlete of the year. Jacob Haedicke won the Intramural Participation Award for his effort and leadership in the intramural program.
Aidan Coles and Natalya Gimon won the male and female Rising Red Hawks awards recognizing the school’s top junior athletes and coach Sharon Dibblee was given the Red Hawks Athletics Impact Award for the difference she’s made over her 29 years at the school.