RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Elliott Avent’s favorite piece of memorabilia in his office is a hand-painted portrait of the famous Jim Valvano speech. He said he’s had teams he’s felt the same way about during his two decades as head baseball coach at North Carolina State.
Avent’s 2020 squad could have been one of those teams, but no one will ever know since the 2020 college baseball season has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our seniors had done such a great job, and our upperclassmen, too,” Avent said. “I’m going to miss the chemistry of this team, and so many of the guys have called and said, ‘Coach, we miss each other and we miss being there.’ The chemistry of this team was really, really good, and that’s what you work hard to get as a coach. And so, that’s what I’m going to miss.”
Avent now has his springtime free, all to himself, for the first time in some 40 years. There are no practices to run or games on the horizon; only time to revisit the past.
“Stuff I had done when I was a boy,” Avent said. “Chop some wood, you know what I say, for a fireplace because the fireplace is so relaxing. So, you get to go chop wood that’s been laying in the yard that hasn’t been chopped for awhile. Or you rake the yard or blow the leaves off the roof, and you do things for friends. So, you just do things you don’t get the chance to do.”
In a perfect world, Avent would be coaching. He’d be taking in the smell of the grass and listening for the crack of the bat or dugout banter with a group of young men who mean the world to him.
“Yeah, I do love coaching, everyone knows that,” Avent said. “But, I do love the players. These guys have pretty much been my whole life.”
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