A friend of a friend-Tom Gardner-Junior Nance-November 9

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 9, 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.

On Friday Night I got to be around some great people at a UNC Pembroke Alumni function. Attending that event made me realize that college truly does allow people to form relationships that last a lifetime. That was very evident as I observed a lot of men who are either close to or retired hang out with each other. In fact one non UNCP attendee at the function told me every time I am around you people from UNC Pembroke I feel like it is family. Pretty good compliment for a group of alumni to exhibit that type of culture to outsiders.

Friendship makes odd bedfellows. As I watched two friends interact on Friday night it took me back to a movie called “Twins”. That movie starred Arnold Schwarzeneggar and Danny DeVito.


Two UNC Pembroke graduates that were both stalwarts during their playing days include Willis “Junior” Nance and Tom Gardner. They were separated by just one year in college but were friends despite the different sports-Junior Nance All-American in Golf and Tom Garner all-American in Men’s Basketball. There is also the size difference. Both Junior and Tom Gardner are in the UNCP Hall of Fame.


Junior Nance is one of the great golfers in the history of UNC Pembroke. He went on to have a very successful career as a high school basketball coach. He had a great player that went on to Wake Forest University named Trelonnie Owens. Junior also won a North Carolina State championship in boys basketball in the 1990’s at Bladenboro HS.

Over the past few years I have seen Tom and Junior together at Alumni events. I have seen them at UNCP Basketball games. I have seen them at NCAA tournament games and the two of them together is a treat.

UNCP 2015 Basketball Reunion

Basketball Reunion

Today Junior is retired but is still and excellent golfer.

The 51st Annual National Lefty-Righty Amateur Golf Tournament was played over the Cedar Rock Country Club Golf Course in Lenoir, North Carolina September 3-6, 2014. Nineteen teams from 13 states and the Virgin Islands participated. Linwood Hedgepeth of Evergreen, North Carolina and Junior Nance from Clarkton, North Carolina won the four-day tournament with a score of 275.


Junior Nance

The Friend of the Friend-TOM GARDNER

Tom Gardner

Big Tom

Tom Gardner was a prolific shooter for Pembroke back in the 1970’s and was the son of a high school coach. Tom lives in Kershaw County and serves on the County Council there.

Tom is also a businessman and owns a store called Sports Connections in Camden, SC.

On Friday night he endured brutal traffic in Charlotte NC to get from Camden, SC to Winston-Salem, NC to watch his alma mater take on ACC foe Wake Forest University. The Braves came up short but Tom and Junior Nance got to hang out and be family.


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