Blogs > Burney's Bytes

Burney's Bytes will focus primarily on the local preps sports scene, but will also touch on some college and pro athletics, mostly in regards to athletes who hail and have played high school sports in Oakland County. My goal for the blog is to be conversational and anecdotal, a more relaxed and free formal take on high school athletics than you see in regular game day coverage.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Biggie Smalls

For a man with the name Small, he's left some pretty big shoes to fill. Retiring after 31 years of service to the Pontiac School District last week, former Phoenix… Huskies athletic director Tarlton Small leaves the hallowed building off Perry Road as a living legend and somebody whose presence will be impossible to replace.
Small, spawning from a small town in North Carolina and showing his resilient spirit early on in life as a freshman at N.C. State in the 1960s when he helped integrate the school's long-segregated dormitories, came to Michigan in 1969, hired as a math teacher at Pontiac Northern. A few years later, he was brought on as the Huskies assistant athletic director and in 1982 was hired as the full- time AD, going on to cement a legacy for himself of class, goodwill, good sportsmanship and always having the city's kids' best interest as his first priority.
In over 25 years at the helm of the athletic program at Northern, Small made sure to build on its already rich and storied tradition in basketball and was a major reason why the Huskies took home back-to-back Class A boys hoops titles in 2001 and 2002. It was Small who decided it was best to go away from hiring from within the program to fill the team's head coaching position in the late-90s and tapped a relative unknown commodity in the area's coaching ranks, Robert Rogers, then the head man at Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook, as the squad's new sideline general. Some people questioned the move, but Small stood steadfast in the fact that he had made the correct decision and refused to wilt. The result was consecutive state championships only a few short years later and the grand satisfaction that he ultimately knew what was best for the program's future. Like Small, Rogers is the definition of a class act and in addition to the state titles, he has led the program to district crowns in every year since he took the job.
Even with his hefty resume of accomplishments after 30 years of employment with the district, Small's biggest and most important accomplishment wasn't achieved until when he successfully oversaw an extremely-difficult merger between Northern and Central High Schools in his final 12 months on the job. Debuting the 2009-2010 varsity sports campaign as the Pontiac High School Phoenix, with longtime bitter-rivals sharing hallways and lockerooms alike, the school's football team had a landmark year (an OAA conference title and playoff berth under first-year head coach, Greg Ganfield, another master, yet much-criticized selection of Small's as AD) and its boys basketball team raised its 18th straight district banner.
Saying goodbye to Mr. Small…er….."BIGGIE SMALLS" won't be easy! This guy is the epitome of everything a parent would want guiding the well-being of their child and his/her's development as a prep athlete. But we savor the memories he brought us here in Oakland County for over three decades and know his imprint has been made on everything the Phoenix's athletic program does from this point forward. Burney wishes Mr. Small the best in his long-deserved retirement and says the county and everyone in it is the better for having you worked in it!


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