DANVILLE — Doug Barnette and Mike Small took different but similar roads to their success in their respective careers.
Barnette, who first pursued professional basketball, has become a sports agent and philanthropist; while Small, who first pursued a professional golf playing career, is one of the most successful collegiate golf coaches, building the Fighting Illini into a perennial power.
For both of them, the beginning point was the same — Danville High School.
On Friday night, Barnette and Small became the 57th and 58th members of the Danville High School Wall of Fame.
“I have a lot of memories inside of these walls,’’ said Barnette, who admitted that he wasn’t the best student. “My memories are of coach (Gene) Gourley and the adversity that I had to overcome.
“Now, to be on these walls, I can’t quantify with words. I get emotional when I speak about them because I flash back to them. The most poignant moments in your life are when you are in high school.’’
Small acknowledged that walking in the halls at Danville High on Friday night brought back a lot of memories for him as well.
“I didn’t know what to expect, because it’s been a while since I’ve been in this part of the school,’’ he said. “I remembered where all of the teachers taught and that hit me pretty hard.’’
Small, who inducted in the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame in 2013, said joining the Danville High Wall of Fame was different than his other honors that he has received.
“This is home. This is more substantive, more grassroots and more life-long,’’ he said, noting during his speech that he and his wife, Ann (Goodner) Small used to walk the halls holding hands. “Danville helped grow me into who I am today.
“This is definitely more personal.’’
Barnette echoed those sentiments as he is also married to his high school sweetheart, Theresa (Reed) Barnette.
“We were both in the class of 1988 and to be honored on the Wall of Fame is amazing,’’ Barnette said. “From a legacy perspective to be honored by your school, your community and your peers is beyond words.
“I value and appreciate this opportunity.’’
Small credits Danville for teaching him his blue-collar mentality that he coaches with every day.
“When I grew up in this town, it was a blue-collar, hard-nosed community without a lot of fluff,’’ he said. “I think I played that way and I know that I coach that way.’’
Neither Barnette nor Small had any idea when they were students at Danville that their futures would lead them to where they are today.
Barnette started his career as a sports agent back in 1996, while Small, a member of the 1981 state championship golf team at Danville, made the transition to golf coach at Illinois in 2000.
“It happened when I was in college at Illinois,’’ said Small about becoming a coach. “My coach (Ed Beard) throught I would be a good coach. He waited a few years to retire until I was ready. I didn’t know I how long I would coach.
“In my second year of coaching, we ere leading the National Championship, and I was hooked.’’
A committee of community members — including representatives from the school district, Vermilion County Museum, Danville Area Community College, Vermilion Advantage and other community organizations — selected Barnette and Small for the honor.
“It was a good mix of people in the community,” committee chairperson Mark Bacys said of the group.
The DHS Wall of Fame was established in 1991 and is designed to promote pride in Danville and District 118 and to provide role models for the students.
The inductees’ framed photograph and biography will be displayed on the Wall of Fame across from the Dick Van Dyke Auditorium inside DHS. Barnette and Small also will receive a smaller replica of the plaque to take home.