My Friends-December 31


Today is the last of 365 posts I will compose using the theme “A Friend of a Friend” .  

I had a goal to learn or get reacquainted with 365 people in 2015 and the objective was accomplished. Along the way I used my premise that good friends had other good friends. My unscientific conclusion from a year of blogging about friends is that they really do have amazing friends.

Tomorrow I will start a different Blogging theme for 2016. This year has truly been a wonderful experience but it is time to move on. I apologize to the friends, ex-players, coaches, cousins, nephews, and nieces I didn’t get to profile.

I ran out of days but not friends-THANKS!!!!!

Early last week I got a message from Jeff Neelon that humbled and surprised me. He asked me to consider keeping the blog going.  He said that people wanted to express their thoughts about me as their friend.

I told him that on December 31, 2015 I would have my last post take on a different spin. I would let it be called “My Friends” . So listed below are what “My Friends” wanted to say about me.

I have to admit this is uncomfortable allowing people to write about me. One of my favorite blues artists is John Lee Hooker.

He has some lyrics in the song above called “Boogie Chillen” that apply to how I feel today.

One night I was layin’ down
I heard mama and papa talkin’
I heard papa tell mama let that boy boogie-woogie
It’s in him and it got to come out

So if my friends have something to say it is time “to let it come out”.

As John Lee Hooker goes on to say in Boogie Chillen “it feels so good”.

I don’t deserve all the kind words but they are much appreciated.

Jeff Neelon-far right with his family.

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My Friend Dan

Last December Dan Kenney told me about the blog he planned for 2015. It was going to be stories about the friends of his friends. He planned to hear about unusual experiences, funny tales and people who were unique in the lives of his friends. That is what I thought.

When Dan decided to lead off the year with one of my friends I gave him options. We talked about the book signing at a biker bar with Weaselman, the respect I have for ex-UNC basketball player Jeff Denny when he was approached by a homeless person and started talking to him in sign language or the $2,000.00 Billy Canada dumped on the floor as terminally ill children entered a hotel at Wild Dunes as a gift to them. No, Dan wanted to use the story about Bill Hussey.

Any story that has a friend, a dog, a stuffed wildcat and ladies underwear has problems from the start.

Over the next 350 plus days I read wonderful stories about coaches, players, business people, educators and loyal friends of Dan Kenny. We heard about Tito, Joe, the Thompsons, the Johnsons, Mike, his New Jersey friends and his family. Dan also told the stories that made us sad with the untimely deaths of Jeff and Andy. Hundreds of people featured this year that brought us closer to knowing how important our friends are in our lives.

Over the past twenty years I have known Dan and Mira and his family. We have run some races, had a birthday for a 100 year old house, been to a few parties and worked on some projects together. Touched together in many different ways and I’m proud to say he is my friend.

Joe Terranova-in red shirt with his family.

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Road Trip Dan

Since 2006 my wife and I really enjoy living in Lumberton NC. Since moving to Lumberton I have met some great friends. I personally got to know Dan during our Kiwanis lunches and then he had me over his house to meet more people. Once I found out he was from NJ we hit it off.
In less than 8 years Dan and I have learned a lot about each other.
Dan and I got to really know more about each other on a wonderful trip we took to go see Ben Miller’s UNC Pembroke basketball team play in the NCAA II division in Harrogate, Tenn. earlier this year.
We spent about 8 hours in the car driving to TN. On this long trip we talked about life past and present. We ventured out into what we thought was an easy trip. New locations which you may only see in movies, filled with water falls sliding down the mountains only few feet from the streets. Houses that stood beside that water fall, and to top it all some animals penned in by a fence. This trip will probably go down as one of my most unforgettable trips ever!


Dan is just a great person. He and Mira are always welcoming everyone they meet into their home. Dan and Mira always make sure that we have a place to go because we have no family here where it feels like home. Dinner out to catch up, porch parties to cheer on races, coffee to keep warm during the Christmas parade and other occasions where friends gather. Beth and I are blessed to call him our friend.
I’ll leave you with some wise words from Dan’s blog.

“For the record having an Italian friend is no joke or excuse it is a gift.”

“la fortuna di chiamare un amico”

Tito Massol-shown with his family

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Dan’s Influence

Good morning my friend and Merry Christmas.

Friend of a friend, Dan Kenney and his family.
I can’t recall where it all began; maybe one of John and Candy Atkinson’s Christmas socials, or a Tony and Tina Jenkins introduction, but it seems as if we’ve always been familiar with the Kenney family.

Dan and his crew are the kind of people you always see and hear about. Maybe it’s because of Dan’s coaching history or Mira’s real estate career, or the Kenney children who participate in sports, community events and other happenings throughout the county, but the Kenney’s seems to be in all of the right places.

The Kenney’s are a traditional American family, who share their lives with all who care to participate. They have love for people and community, and that love draws many others like them.
Dan and I have known one another for ten plus years; however, our friendship seems much longer. It’s as if I’ve known Dan my whole life and this is derived from very similar beginnings. Dan moved to Robeson County to work at UNCP, and I moved here after serving in the Army at Ft. Bragg. Dan and I grew up across the Henry Hudson River from one another. He in New Jersey, while I did New York City, a life very different than the ones we both enjoy in Robeson County.

We often discuss the very unique differences of growing up in an urban environment and now raising our families in such a quiet place. We’ve seen many people move in and out of this county. Some come because of work, military, or other reasons and fail to ever find a groove. For Dan and I, the people are the “Groove”. Dan’s love for people gets him energized to be everywhere people are.
His love for people motivated him to write about many throughout this past year, and what a year it has been. For Dan, I’m sure that his commitment in 2014 to drink a different beer per day pales in comparison to the incredible commitment to write a story on a different person every day in 2015.

I appreciate his work and dedication, and I look forward to being part of any new project Dan may decide to do in 2016.

Rick Miller and his wife Sherry at a Va. Tech Football Game

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Victim of a Practical Joke

Dan Kenney and I were assistant basketball coaches together at Western Carolina University. Each year we had a very successful summer basketball camp. One summer Coach Cottrell,our head coach, decided to invite Mark Edwards, an old friend and coaching associate who was the head coach at Washington University. He was also known as a premier practical joker.
As we were approaching the end of camp, Dan’s job was to to organize the awards and certificates, which he had done perfectly and had lined them up on a long table, and locked up in our team locker room.

Coach Cottrell was in the Gym speaking to some 300 campers and parents telling them what a great camp we had, when he gave the signal to help Dan bring the awards out. As I approached the locker room, I hear banging on the door of the locker room and some profane language…As I get to the door I realize someone had padlocked the door with Dan and more importantly the awards inside inside.

I immediately go to find Coach Edwards to get a key and tell our manager to tell Coach Cottrell to start stalling.

Coach Edwards says he knows nothing….so I run down a maintenance man and we take the door off the hinges.

A relieved Dan Kenney and I carry out the awards all smiles, just as Coach Cottrell is running out of things to say.

The rest of camp went good and nobody knew any difference, except Coach Kenney, who I have never seen as upset before or since.

Mark Edwards never fessed up to the prank until about 3 years later at the Final Four. We all finally had a good laugh over a few brews.

In closing, I want to say I don’t know of a better person on this earth than Dan Kenney and I thank he and Mira for being great friends to our family

Marla Locklear

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Scouting Report

Dan Kenney, aka Daniel Kenney, Mr. Kenney, Dan the Man, Coach Kenney, DK and Chief of Stuff to the University family, is someone that has been an integral part of my life for over 25 years. He was first Coach Kenney to me in Athletics and now Mr. Kenney in the Chancellor’s Office. His motto at work has always been and still is family first, then your health and then work. Mr. Kenney’s philosophy to living a good life is to believe in yourself. He is a coach at heart and although his career title has changed, he continues to coach along the way. He inspires everyone to be great. You can feel his energy and passion about what ever task(s) fall upon his shoulders. His leadership skills has produced many “champions”. His analytical thinking creates the best solutions. He listens with intensity and repeats what you have said so he is sure he understands the dynamics of the situation. He perseveres when we all feel like we are sinking and brings us back up for air. Trust me, there have been quite a few times the “Brave Titanic” could have been lost at sea if Mr. Kenney had not steered us to calm waters to keep his crew afloat.

Many great things can be said about Dan Kenney but understanding only comes when you spend time with him and it doesn’t have to be lengthy. You immediately feel his enthusiasm for life when you are in his presence. He has a way of making you feel “special”. When he taught freshman seminar, he would take a photo of each student by the Tommy Hawk statue, print each photo and put them on poster board. He then asked the students to write why they were special. Mr. Kenney’s delight came when the students realized they were “special” in their own unique way.

Mr. Kenney I thank you not only for being the best boss ever but my friend as well. I thank you for the guidance, motivation, compassion, respect and your belief in me as a person throughout the years. Your blog “A Friend of a Friend” exemplifies who you are as a person; selfless, inspirational and thoughtful. I end this entry with your own quote “all I can do is give you a scouting report” and this time the scouting report is for you.

Dick Christy-with his wife Windy

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Coach 4 a LIFETIME: Dan Kenney

No one…I mean no one can tell a story or set-up a punchline like Dan Kenney. All those years as a coach have turned him into an expert communicator and someone that can leave you hanging on each word. He knows when to pause, when to be emphatic, and how to slowly build a story to crescendo to get his point across.

Dan is also one of the most caring people I know, he always chooses his words carefully. His leadership styles tend toward servanthood and nurturing to ensure anyone who comes in contact with him, even those that don’t report to him, feel valued and feel energized to go out and make the organization better.

As Chief of Staff, the Cabinet is his team, and he takes that role seriously in trying to create a culture where people feel valued and work as a single unit. That can be challenging with a team so diverse in their goals as one of multiple units across the whole campus, but Dan integrates everyone seamlessly. One of the tactics he uses is to make sure that social functions focus on camaraderie and everyone leaves with a leadership message that instills a value or two that can make the team better.

This effort to provide a social environment that promotes team building is a critical strategy for any coach, that’s why I know for a fact that Dan had put a lot of effort into the Chancellor’s Cabinet Christmas party of 2014. It would be the last social gathering with our previous leadership team intact and Dan wanted some meaningful and jovial messages to stick with everyone so they’d remember what a good team we had.

In his prepared remarks, Dan had structured a friendly jab or roast about each individual on cabinet; meticulously detailing each fictional award to praise and simultaneously rib his fellow team members. The messages were so well done, and so carefully crafted….that Dan struggled to get through any of them without being completely red-faced, and bursting into belly laughs. At one point he choked down a swallow of his beverage and struggled to clear his throat of the liquid and laughter enough to continue with his joke.

While the roast did not go quite as smoothly as he initially planned, the goal to bring everyone together was definitely achieved. To see someone so focused on the feelings of others all the time get tickled so deeply by his own doing was fulfilling for all of us. And at the same time hilarious to see how funny Dan found his own jokes….

Now, with an ever evolving Chancellor’s Cabinet and new senior team; Dan’s laughter and leadership are more important and more appreciated than ever.

 

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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