A friend of a friend-Dave Odom-Jerry Wainwright-November 5

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 November 5, 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.

Tomorrow night I plan on being at Wake Forest University to watch UNCP play Wake Forest in a college basketball exhibition game. I thought about two former Wake Forest basketball coaches that can best be described as caring leaders.

I have told people that there are still some great habits you can learn or develop that will separate you from other leaders. One leadership habit is the power of the hand written note. That note creates a relationship bond that is a foundation of leadership and influence. The business world is full of instant and electronic communications, but some leaders I know swear by the power of the handwritten message.

Note handwritten

Over the 2014 Christmas holidays I saw some statistics on mail in the USA. One of the interesting things is the average home only received a personal letter once every seven weeks in 2010, down from once ever two weeks in 1987. That basically means a home only gets 7 handwritten notes a year in the mail.


For twenty three years I was a college basketball coach and the culture of writing handwritten notes was dominant in that profession. Today I still write note but I am not in the same league as Jerry Wainwright. Jerry is the associate head basketball coach at Frenso State University. Frenso is a member of the NCAA Division I Mountain West Conference.

Last month I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal written by Clare Ansberry. In that article (link below) Clare profiles that Jerry sends 300 to 500 handwritten notes each week to former players, as well as many coaches and managers. He’s been doing it for 30 years. Read the story below.


I got to know Jerry Wainwright when he was an Assistant Basketball Coach at Wake Forest University. Jerry spent nine years as an assistant coach at Wake Forest. He worked under Bob Staak (1986-89) and Dave Odom (1989-94), he helped rebuild the Demon Deacons’ program. Besides on-the-court coaching, he assisted in recruiting NBA draft picks Chris King (Seattle), Rodney Rogers (Denver), Randolph Childress (Detroit) and Tim Duncan (San Antonio).

Jerry left Wake Forest and became the Head Basketball Coach at UNC Wilmington from 1994 to 2002. In eight seasons at UNCW, he compiled a 136-103 (.569) record. Jerry led  the UNCW Seahawks to a pair of trips to the NCAA Tournament (2000, 2002) and the NIT (1998, 2001). During his time at UNCW, the team captured three regular season Colonial Athletic Association titles and two CAA tournament crowns. He left UNCW and went on to coach at the University of Richmond for three seasons. Jerry eventually became the Head Coach of Big East member DePaul University.

Jerry learned a lot about coaching and working with people from Dave Odom.


Jerry Wainwright

The Friend of the Friend-DAVE ODOM

Dave Odom

A coach that cares

If Jerry Wainwright is the coach that is world class in the number of handwritten notes he sends out then Dave Odom is world class in the number of times he is there to support coaches. I got to know Dave early on in my coaching life when he was in his last year as the basketball coach at Durham High School in Durham, NC in 1976. His last year of being a high school coach was my first year of being an assistant coach in college. In 1975-76 I was at East Carolina University.

In 1976 Dave left Durham High School and went to Wake Forest as an assistant coach. In 1979 he became the head coach at East Carolina University and had a great coaching staff including Eddie Payne and George Felton.

Dave is an eastern North Carolinian he went to Goldsboro High School and then attended Guilford College. He formed lifetime relationships with two great men-Jerry Steele and Jack Jensen. At Guilford he was a standout football and basketball player. He never forgot where he came from and when Coach Steele or Jensen needed something he was there.

Jerry Steele

Dave went on to have great success as the head basketball college at Wake Forest and South Carolina. Last night I also learned that he was one of the few ACC Basketball Coaches that attended Dean Smith Funeral this past year. He cared about coaches as people.

I had a dark day in 1998 when I got fired as basketball coach at Winthrop. Dave Odom called me. He didn’t have to but he did. I still appreciate that gesture to this day.

Jerry Wainwright didn’t have to write me a handwritten note this past week but he did.

Jerry Wainwright note

Leadership habits like writing handwritten notes and caring about people still matter. Technology can’t replace those habits and behaviors. Jerry Wainwright and Dave Odom entire lives have demonstrated that.


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