A friend of a friend-Dana Watkins-David Synan-August 27


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 27, 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.

Working at a university gives you a great opportunity to be around diverse people. It also lets you stay in a state of amazement about the faculty and staff that work on a campus. It just never seems to get old when I ask someone I know who works for UNC Pembroke to tell me about a friend. Often times that “Friend of a Friend” is someone that I know. That was the case on Monday when I walked thru the Jones Center on the campus of UNC Pembroke.

I ran into the UNCP golf coach David Synan who I hired back in 2005. When we talked we began to discuss Tom Ficklin one of David’s friends from Laurinburg, NC and a member of our church in Lumberton, NC. Tom is about to leave the Lumberton, NC area for a new career in Richmond, VA. Tom and David have routinely played golf together and make a pretty good twosome.

Photo below is of Tom Ficklin family-Kelly left on front row-Tom on right back row.

Tom Ficklin

Tom’s step-mom is Kelly Ficklin, the Coordinator, Undergraduate Elementary Education at UNC Pembroke. It just seems the connections never seem to stop if you get to know the people in your friend’s lives.

David since he grew up in Laurinburg is no stranger to our community.  He attended Scotland High School in Laurinburg and his golf game drew attention from college coaches. He played at High Point University where he was a key contributor to the Panthers for three seasons after transferring from Georgia Southern where he attended for one year. During his three seasons at High Point, David served as team captain and took home All-Big South accolades.

Davis is married to Jamie who is a principal and they reside in Laurinburg. Jamie and David have two children, Summer and Jack.

Synan Family

Shortly after David arrived at UNCP I gave him the task of starting the women’s golf program in the fall of 2006 at UNCP. Since 2006 he has seen the women’s golf teams make numerous appearances in the national rankings. The women’s team has accounted for 10 all-conference nods, while former standout Meghan Moore earned all-American honors following the 2011-12 and 2012-13 campaigns – the first women’s all-American in the history of the program.

David Synan with his All-America Meghan Moore.

David and Megan

He also had coached the golf teams to three PBC Championships Women: 2011, 2014; Men: 2012.

2015 will be a transition year for David as the university will no longer have a men’s golf team. He will focus all of his energies on the women’s team. One of the people that will be helping David coach the women this year is a former student of mine Dana Watkins.

The Friend-DAVID SYNAN

David and Summer

The Friend of the Friend-DANA WATKINS

Dana Watkins

Offering up Coaching Advice-It’s a lot harder than it looks

In 2010 I taught a freshman seminar class at UNC Pembroke and I had a student named Dana Watkins in that class. I asked her the first day of class if she was average or special. Blushing and embarrassed she said special. I immediately told her that I had special expectations for special people.

This fall Dana Watkins enters his first season as an assistant coach with the UNCP golf team. Dana begins assisting the Braves after her time as a member of the golf team. She also has been a junior golf camp instructor.

During her time on the UNCP golf team, Dana was a two-time individual tournament champion, back-to-back WGCA All-American Scholar in 2014 and 2015, two-time All-PBC golfer, 2011 PBC Freshman of the Year, two-time PBC Golfer of the Week, three-time PBC All-Academic team honoree, five-time PBC Presidential Honor Roll selection, Capital One Academic All-District honoree and three-time NCAA D2 ADA Academic Achievement Award selection. She was not average.

Photo of Dana in center with David Synan to left during Dana’s playing days.

David and Dana

When I stopped by the UNC Pembroke Golf Coaches offices on Monday they were busy planning something. I am not sure what but after we got done talking about David’s friend Tom Ficklin the topic went to offering up advice to Dana as a new college coach. I asked Dana what the acronym RDOP meant. She gave me an average response and said she didn’t know. I told her it stood for Recruit Daily Or Perish. She laughed but then that serious special look came over her face. It is a look I have seen her have as an athlete and that usually meant she was about to compete. I think the message about recruiting got her excited.

David Synan also gave her another piece of advice that 90% of what you worry never happens. David said that Dana is constantly worrying about something.

David and I promised to get her that advice about the futility of worrying in writing- So for Dana below is that advice from Dale Carnegie:

Experience has proved to me, time after time, the enormous value of arriving at a decision. It is the failure to arrive at a fixed purpose, the inability to stop going around and round in maddening circles, that drives men to nervous breakdowns and living hells. I find that fifty per cent of my worries vanishes once I arrive at a clear, definite decision; and another forty per cent usually vanishes once I start to carry out that decision.

So, I banish about 90 per cent of my worries by taking these four steps:

  1. Writing down precisely what I am worried about.
  2. Writing down what I can do about it.
  3. Deciding what to do.
  4. Starting immediately to carry out that decision.

I have no doubt that Dana Watkins will RDOP-she is special and on that fact I have no worries.

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One comment

  1. John Synan · · Reply

    I am very impressed by your insights into others, in this case, both David Synan and Dana Watkins. They are two people I know, one well and for a life time and one over time. You summarized both very well and invite friends of yours to get to know them also. I am certain they will be as impressed with them as you have been. May I say you made a great hire back in 2006 and Dana is an excellent example of what has been accomplished. John Synan, proud father.

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