CHAMPAIGN – Tony Millard arrived at Centennial High School ahead of the 2015-16 school year as the most recent athletic director of Meridian High School in Macon.
It is a school of less than 300 students. Millard’s stint as AD for the Chargers put him in a school with around 1,400 children.
In less than a month, Millard will make another big move, leaving the school he called home for almost five years to become AD at an even larger high school in Illinois.
Millard was confirmed as the next Oswego East AD on Monday, effective July 1. He replaces Kurt Weigt, who leaves the school of nearly 2,600 students in the western suburbs of Chicago after a year as an AD to take on the role of basketball coach of the Kankakee girls.
“It’s a tough decision any time you choose to leave a place, but this one is for the good of our family, and so it was a decision we had to make,” Millard said Wednesday. “And even if it is difficult to leave Champaign, it is easy to take the step when we know that we are doing the right thing for our daughter.
Millard and his wife Amy have a daughter who is getting ready for kindergarten. As such, the Millards wanted to be closer to Amy’s family in suburban Chicago to “have this back-up care plan” for their child.
Amy Millard already works remotely for American InterContinental University based in Schaumburg. In response to this, Tony Millard has spent the past two months researching AD positions in this field.
Millard was well acquainted with Oswego High AD Darren Howard through the Illinois Athletic Directors Association – Howard is also the president-elect of that organization – and Millard appreciated the chance to work collaboratively with Howard through Oswego East .
“It’s a great school district with a lot of experience,” Millard said. “Oswego East is about 16 years old as a school, so they’re still trying to build their tradition and that sort of thing. Being able to potentially be a part of that and help the sport program grow in a big district like this is going to be a great opportunity for me. “
Millard, himself a native of Morton, is not yet quite finished his centennial duties.
In fact, he was preparing for a meeting with the Centennial Hall of Fame committee on Wednesday to discuss nominations for the 2021 class.
Millard helped the Chargers establish their Hall of Fame in the first place, as he inducted his First Class in January 2018.
“The creation of the Hall of Fame has been tremendous for Charger athletics and the Centennial community as a whole,” said Millard. “I hope this tradition continues.”
Centennial sporting highlights during Millard’s tenure included five women’s swimming and diving sectional championships, two women’s tennis section titles, one men’s swimming and diving sectional championship, two regional soccer crowns. women’s and a regional baseball championship. And that’s not to mention Illini Justin Cardani’s current pair of Class 2A state wrestling titles, the first ever awarded by a centennial wrestler in the school’s history.
“It’s awesome,” Millard said. “It was a great opportunity for me to move to a new location, a much bigger school than before, and I really enjoyed working with the coaches and student-athletes here. I think we’ve come a long way and created an environment that I love to be in.
Millard said he wasn’t sure who might succeed him as Centennial’s AD, but noted that he “will be as involved as they allow me” in the selection process.
One element Millard hopes he can retain when moving from Champaign to Oswego is something that initially “overwhelmed” him in his first Centennial-Champaign Central basketball game.
“One of the things, for me, that I see a similarity in… it’s a two high school district,” Millard said. “You have Oswego East and Oswego High School in the same district, and I look forward to having this intrinsic rivalry between the two schools and the same community. “