A friend of a friend-Caryn Savitz-Jud Damon-September 18

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 September 18, 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.

I have to confess that while I was in high school my dream was to follow my childhood hero Bill Bradley. For those that are not quite so old Bill Bradley was the former US Senator from New Jersey. For those in my age bracket Bill Bradley was an All-American Basketball player from Princeton University who earned a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford and then went on to play in the N.B.A.

Bill bradley

I wanted to go to Princeton which is in the Ivy League. My SAT and HS Grades were not Ivy League material.

I do take solace in the fact that I have some friends that attended Ivy League universities including Jud Damon the Athletic Director at Flagler. Jud attended University of Pennsylvania and was an outstanding baseball player there. He was inducted into the University of Pennsylvania Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001.

I became acquainted with Jud’s name before I actually met him. In 2000 UNCP while I was serving as UNC Pembroke’s athletic director I did a search for a baseball coach and Jud applied. At that point in his life he was the athletic director at Savannah College for Art & Design (SCAD). The year before going to SCAD he had been a successful college baseball coach at Trinity International University in Miami, FL from 1997-2000. UNC Pembroke was part of the Peach Belt Conference a NCAA Division II league and for whatever reason (probably wrong) I didn’t interview him.

I really got to know Jud and admire him as a leader and man of integrity when in 2008 he left SCAD to become the athletics director at fellow Peach Belt Conference member institution Georgia College and State University (GCSU). Jud only stayed at Georgia College for one year due to some family concerns but he remained in the Peach Belt Conference by leaving Georgia College to move on to Flagler College  in 2009. Over the past eight years I continue to be impressed by his leadership.

Photo below taken at 2013 NCAA Convention (l-r) Jud Damon AD at Flagler, Dan Kenney former AD at UNC Pembroke, and Wendell Staton-AD at Georgia College

Jud Dan Wendell

I truly believe over time that organizations will reflect the leader’s  core values. For the fifth year in a row Flagler took home the Peach Belt Conference’s Institution of the Year Sportsmanship Award for the 2014-15 season.

Jud far right receiving PBC Sportsmanship Award with Flagler’s President and PBC Commissioner Dave Brunk

Flagler Sportsmanship

Flager’s women’s basketball earned team sportsmanship honors during the year.. Also, a record 132 student-athletes received honors on the PBC’s Presidential Honor Roll which goes to students who achieve a GPA of 3.0 or higher during the year. The core values that Jud emphasizes are character, integrity, and academics. His athletic program at Flagler is a model of that.

I have heard from other athletic directors Jud’s approach on monitoring the crowds during contests to ensure no bad language or other inappropriate comments occur. If bad behavior happens, Jud will speak with the offender and explain that the behavior is not reflective of the values of Flagler, and will also use the interaction as an opportunity to explain why sportsmanship is important to the institution and the student-athletes on the field. It is no surprise in 2013 that the NCAA Committee on Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct selected Flagler College Director of Athletics Jud Damon to receive the 2012-13 Bob Frederick Award for his demonstrated history of sportsmanship.

Jud and I still stay connected because he keeps hiring class people that worked at UNC Pembroke to go to Flagler. One of those hires is Caryn Savitz.

The Friend-JUD DAMON

Jud Damon

The Friend of the Friend-CARYN SAVITZ

Caryn Savitz

New York comes to Pembroke

In 2012 UNC Pembroke Assistant Athletic Director for Communications Todd Anderson was looking for an Intern. Todd came into my office and told me about this young professional women who had been honing her writing and public relations skills at two separate organizations in New York City. Todd offered her the job and told me she was going to move to Pembroke in the summer of 2012. She joined the UNCP Athletic Communication Team and did a great job during the two years she was a Brave.

(l-r) Athletic Communication Team at UNCP-2013 Jenna Davisson, Todd Anderson, and Caryn Savitz

Jenna Caryn Todd

I grew up in Northern New Jersey in the shadows of NYC. I have worked and lived near Pembroke, NC most of my entire professional life. I told Todd Caryn was going to need some transitioning counseling. To Caryn’s credit she didn’t need much but there were a few differences she had to adapt to. The bottom line is she had impeccable people skills.

Today Caryn is in her second year at Flagler College as its athletics communications coordinator. She promotes Flagler Athletics through social media, video and print publications. Caryn also assists the sports information office. In July of 2015, Savitz became the department’s Senior Woman Administrator.

Caryn is a fast learner and she will be exposed to a great leader in Jud Damon who will show her that core values like sportsmanship, integrity, and trust all still matter. Jud maybe never got to work at UNCP but I am glad he has part of the #Braves Nation at Flagler.

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