A friend of a friend-Adam Hardin-Michael Blackburn-August 4

One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”.

The post below is the story for August 4, 2015. My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.

Two days ago I wrote about colleges getting ready for the start of the semester and the impact it has on university strength and conditioning coaches. Well athletic trainers are in the same situation they need to be ready before the traditional semester starts. Almost on every college campus practices begin for fall sports in advance of the first day of class. That is true at UNC Pembroke and for my friend Michael Blackburn.

Michael Blackburn is the head athletic trainer at UNCP. He has been in that role for six years. He is nationally certified and state-licensed and oversees the entire athletic training department. He is specifically responsible for, and handles the day-to-day operations of, the prevention and care of injuries for the Braves football team along with overseeing the insurance coordination.

Michael spent the two years prior to coming to UNCP as an assistant athletic trainer at Western Illinois University where he was responsible for the daily medical healthcare of the men’s basketball and men’s and women’s golf teams. He was charged with overseeing one of WIU’s athletic training rooms, while also serving as a mentor for six graduate assistant athletic trainers. He also served as an instructor in the Department of Kinesiology at WIU.

A native of Medford, WI, Michael first got involved in athletic training as an undergraduate at Winona State (Minn.), logging numerous hours, specifically, with three different athletic teams. While with the Warriors, he undertook athletic training responsibilities with the women’s soccer, men’s basketball and baseball programs. In serving in those capacities, he assisted with the treatments and rehabilitation of other Winona State student-athletes as well.

I got to hire Michael in the summer of 2010 while I was serving as UNCP Athletic Director. He like a lot of the coaches and staff that I hired in my 15 years needed short-term housing. We have a big house and extra bedrooms so Michael became a Kenney for about 4 months.

That extended stay meant he also got to become a fixture since 2010 at our house for Thanksgiving. He joins us each year and gets to feast on deep fried turkey along with all the other menu items.

Photos from Kenney Thanksgiving’s Day with Michael included.

Thanksgiving 2014Thankgiving Dinner Michael does a lot for UNC Pembroke and so does one of his friends Adam Hardin.

The Friend-MICHAEL BLACKBURN-seated on far left


The Friend of the Friend-ADAM HARDIN


In love with Black and Gold

When you work at a university you figure out real quick who just works there and who loves the university. They are different. When you have a large number of people on the university team that love the place you can’t but help have a special place.

At UNCP we have a lot of employees that love where they work including Adam Hardin.

Adam is the Assistant Director for Admissions at UNC Pembroke. He is a 2006 graduate of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and a minor in Business Administration. He joined the admissions team in September 2007.

Adam specific job duties include responsibility for recruiting new students in North Carolina include Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Craven, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Hyde, Jones, Martin, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Perquimans, Sampson, Tyrell, and Washington counties and the state of Virginia. He serves as the athletic liaison.

It is in that role as athletic liaison that I have seen his love and passion for UNCP shine. Whether it is wearing one of his patented black and gold ties to attending athletic events with his dad Dr. Ben Hardin Adam Hardin is “All In” on UNC Pembroke.

Adam wearing one of his black and gold ties.

Adam Tie

Brave nation

Adam comes from a talented family. His dad is a physician. His sister Alicia Mansfield is a talented singer that I get to listen to almost every Sunday at First Presbyterian Church in Lumberton, NC.

Adam is also not about to let family get off the hook in doing his job. He recruited his niece Emma Mansfield to enroll in the Ester B Maynor Honors College at UNC Pembroke this fall.

(l-r) Dr. Ben Hardin and his granddaughter Emma Mansfield. Emma and Ben

In about a month UNCP will play their first football game against Winston-Salem State University. Adam’s friend Michael Blackburn will be on the sidelines with the Brave Football team. A good number of those players Michael will be looking over are ones that Adam assisted the football coaches in recruiting.

UNC Pembroke is a great place because team members like Michael Blackburn and Adam Hardin love the “Black and Gold”


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