A friend of a friend-Nicole Valvano Donahue-Chris Armfield-October 25

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 October 25, 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.

This project of writing 365 posts has really galvanized my thought that if you take the time to learn about your friends you will find out that they have interesting stories and of course surprising connections to other people who have amazing stories. That happened to me on Saturday morning. I woke up with a text message from Chris Armfield telling me that I was a celebrity because he saw me in the background of a television news story about the election of the new University of North Carolina President on Friday.

Photo Chris sent me the photo below with the caption “I know a celebrity”. I am standing in the center wearing a gold UNCP tie. We were in lobby of C.D Spangler Building in Chapel Hill, NC

UNC BOG text

Chris is a former soccer standout at UNC Pembroke back when it was called Pembroke State University. He played high school soccer at Apex High School. His college coach was Mike Schaeffer who retired in 2011 after coaching for 30 seasons. While Chris was in school at Pembroke he became friends with lots of people. Newy Scruggs is one of Chris’s best friends. Newy is a member of the UNC Pembroke Board of Trustees who I profiled earlier in the year.


Newy is an outstanding television and radio sports broadcaster in Dallas, Texas. Newy has a national daily radio show called “Voices of the Game”.


Newy Scruggs Radio

Chris is an amazing and highly successful sales professional. He currently works for one of the best companies in America in SAS which is located in Cary, NC. The founder of SAS is James Goodnight and his wife is Ann. Ann Goodnight whose name has become synonymous with education is one of the leaders on the UNC Board of Governors who elected the new UNC President on Friday. It was that election that had Chris sending me a text.

Chris has been at SAS since May of 2013. SAS is the leader in business analytics software and services, and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market. Through innovative solutions, SAS helps customers at more than 70,000 sites improve performance and deliver value by making better decisions faster. SAS software is used by about 79 percent of Fortune 500 companies.

Prior to Chris going to SAS for almost twenty years he worked at Xerox. He advanced often during that time period including serving as the Xerox’s Client Sales Director to EliLilly and WellPoint. Chris is a hard worker but is very committed to his family and his friends.

Chris Armfield wife and two daughters.

Armfield Family

As I was scrolling thru Chris’s social media sites I saw where he was friends with the daughter of an iconic college basketball coach. Her name is Nicole Valvano Donahue.


Chris Armfield

The Friend of the Friend-NICOLE VALVANO DONAHUE

Nicole Valvano

Coach V’s Daughter

I have never met anyone in the late Jim Valvano’s family except Jim.

Jim Valvano Family (l-r) Jim, Lee Ann, Jamie, Pam, and Nicole.

Valvano Family

My direct connection to Jim Valvano was thru coaching specifically while he was coaching basketball at NC State (1980-1990). During that decade I was an assistant college basketball coach at Western Carolina and the head basketball coach at UNC Pembroke. I had been with him at high school recruiting events and I had coached against his Wolfpack team while I was as at WCU. I won’t spent a lot of time saying what most people know about him. He was charismatic, enthusiastic, and became an inspiration for millions for his courage in battling cancer.

Nicole Valvano Donahue like Chris Armfield works at SAS. She is an Account Executive at SAS and she helps Life Science Companies with Advanced Analytics, Reporting and Validated Environments.

Even though I have never met Nicole Valvano or her mother Pam Valvano Strasser I have a connection to them. I began to get curious about Nicole when I saw she was social media friends with Marcus Laster, Molly Laster, and Curtis Moss who were all friends of mine. What was the connection between her friends that were also my friends. I found out.

First the easy one. Curtis Moss played basketball at Apex HS and Nicole went to high school at Apex High School and so did Chris Armfield. I had a harder time with Marcus and Molly.

I was the coach at Winthrop University in Rock Hill SC. I had a player from St. Louis, MO named Marcus Laster who fell head in heels in love with Molly Strasser. Molly’s Strasser’s dad John married Pam Valvano in 2003. Pam Valvano is of course Nicole Valvano’s mom.

Pam and John Strasser


I profiled Marcus and Molly in a previous post. Marcus is a very talented author and you should check out his book Life’s Simple Equation.

Marcus and Molly Laster

marcus and molly


I am very proud of Marcus, Molly, Curtis Moss, and of course Chris Armfield. To be honest if it wasn’t for Chris Armfield text on a Saturday morning I would have never made a number of “Friend of a Friend” cross connections. That is what I was hoping for this year with this blog and it came to fruition today. Thanks Chris!

Chris for the record I am no celebrity but am flattered when you call me coach.

One comment

  1. Chad Douget · · Reply

    I knew Nicole briefly back in 92 or 93. It was in Tarboro. Her father bought pizza for the entire group. I would love to know how she is doing.

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