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NC State coach Elliott Avent loves playing in the College World Series

image_6483441 (3)by:Noah Fleischman06/13/24

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OMAHA, Neb. — NC State coach Elliott Avent has spent nearly half his life as the head coach of the Wolfpack. But his love of the Pack goes back to his childhood, where he grew up infatuated with NC State athletics. 

Avent is living his dream as the Wolfpack’s coach, which he has done for the last 28 years, but if there’s anything that seems to come close to his love of NC State in athletics, it appears to be the Men’s College World Series. 

Before he took over in Raleigh, NC State had only been to the event once — in 1968. Avent, though, has taken the Wolfpack to Omaha three times in the last 11 years, putting NC State on the national radar year after year. 

But each time he gets to bring a team to the College World Series, Avent’s smile grows wider and wider. He constantly tells his squads about his experiences on the top step at Charles Schwab Field, bringing a certain lore to making it to collegiate baseball’s pinnacle. 

Avent, however, is known to “oversell things” as former Wolfpack men’s basketball coach Herb Sendek would tell the skipper. A film could be the best Avent has ever seen or a particular restaurant may never be topped. 

Sendek didn’t want Avent to build someone’s expectations up and then have the event not match them. But when it comes to Omaha, that is a different story. 

“That’s good advice, but I told our players, and I’ve told them all year, it’s a carrot I hang out there, that Omaha is the greatest thing you’ll ever do in your life,” Avent said. “Even if you go to the World Series.”

Former NC State shortstop Trea Turner, who was on Avent’s first team to make it to Omaha in 2013, won a World Series with the Washington Nationals in 2019. He told Avent the Pack’s trip to Omaha may have been just as fun as the mountaintop of MLB. 

So, as Avent has dangled Omaha to his squad all year, he didn’t think it would affect their thinking of the big stage. He was right.

“I’ve sold this place like you wouldn’t believe, but I think Omaha, Nebraska, is the one place you can oversell and you still undersell it,” Avent said. “I’ve asked our players, ‘What do you think?’ They said, ‘Coach, it’s better than you said.’”

Though Avent appears to love making the trip to Omaha for the College World Series, he will only do it if there are 27 players and his coaching staff on the plane with him and he’s in the dugout with them. It’s what he told himself more than three decades ago as the head coach at New Mexico State, and it has stuck ever since. 

Avent is back in the mecca of college baseball this weekend, looking for the program’s first national championship. His squad will begin that trek against No. 2 Kentucky on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Though the 68-year-old coach has been twice before, Avent has the same emotions as his previous two trips. He’s like a kid in a candy store.

“There’s just so much here to embrace and enjoy. Coming here every time is the same,” Avent said. “It’s just magical. If you wake up for Christmas when you are 8 years old and you wake up for Christmas 10 years old or 12 years old and the presents are under the tree and the anxiousness of Santa Claus coming, that’s what this is to me.”

“No matter your age, no matter how many times you’ve been here,” Avent continued, “this is the most magical place for a baseball player I think that can ever be.”

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