After 13 years as a teacher and coach at Lake Norman High, Robert Little finally decided it was time for a career change.Little, the only coach the Wildcats’ baseball team has had since the school opened in 2002, stepped down from that position and his job as an occupational education instructor at Lake Norman in mid-July.Little’s new job is as an assistant principal at South Iredell High, where he was a four-year letterman on the Vikings’ baseball team before graduating in 1990.“I just felt it was time to try something different,” Little said. “I had turned down a job there two years ago in administration, but when they called a second time (this year), I was worried that it wouldn’t come my way again. So I decided to jump at the chance and go.“It was pretty lucky that the offers came from my alma mater. I just took advantage of it when it was there.”Little earned his administration license in 2012, right after getting his master’s degree in executive leadership from Gardner-Webb. He earned his bachelor’s degree in parks and recreation at Wingate, where he attended on a baseball scholarship, and got his teaching certificate in special education from UNC Charlotte.According to Lake Norman athletics director Jamie Mabe, who recently took over the position from Scott Sarvis, it may be mid-August before Little’s replacement is named, pending approval from Iredell-Statesville Schools officials. Little’s departure leaves a big void in a Wildcats baseball program that has been one of the region’s most-successful teams over the past several years.In 13 seasons, Little compiled a 161-119 record, with three conference championships (2009, 2011 and 2014) and an N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A regional and state title in 2009.“I haven’t heard from the players as much as I’ve heard from the parents,” about his move, Little said. “A lot of them were shocked, because a lot of people were thinking I was going to wait until my son graduated.“But a lot of people knew that when I got my administration license and had turned one down, the time was going to be soon. They just thought it would be next year.”Last season, Lake Norman finished with a 21-5 record – the team’s best mark since going 28-4 during the Wildcats’ state championship run in 2009 – and shared the North Piedmont 3A/4A regular-season title with Alexander Central.“Obviously, if you had a terrible season, it’d be easier to walk away,” Little said. “But doing as well as we did, and only losing several players, it did make the decision a little tougher.“Plus, I’ve known most of these kids since they were 8, 9, 10 years old, watching them play in Little League. That made it a little bit tougher, too.”Yet the career change also gives Little a chance to do something he hasn’t had many opportunities to do over the past decade: watch his oldest son Zach – a rising senior at Lake Norman who has received several college scholarship offers – play baseball as his father and not as his coach.“My son, my wife and I talked about this,” Robert Little said. “He felt a little relieved about baseball. With these college offers, he’s going to make his decision in November, then go on and enjoy his senior year.“If he’s in college playing, it would be tough for me to go watch him if I was still coaching. As an administrator, I’m sure I’ll have a lot of duties, but I’m sure I could get to see him play games on weekends.”It will still be an adjustment for the elder Little, especially when spring comes.“Spring’s going to be tougher than I think,” Little said. “I enjoy coaching, and I’ll probably get back into coaching of some sort, whether it’s American Legion or hook up with something during the summertime.“It’ll probably be a little easier next spring, because Zach will be in college and I’ll get to see him play then.”
Tuesday, Aug. 05, 2014
Robert Little makes career move out of Lake Norman dugout
Bill Kiser is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Bill? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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