Former Hawk Holcomb in College World Series with N.C. State

OMAHA, Neb. – It’s a long way from Posey Field to Omaha, Neb., but for Huntingdon alum Joey Holcomb, it has been an exciting journey.

Holcomb, an all-conference catcher for the Hawks in the mid-2000s and later an assistant coach for head coach D.J. Conville, is in his second season as an assistant coach with North Carolina State.

The Wolfpack (35-18) open the Division I College World Series on Saturday against sixth-seeded Stanford (38-15) at TD Ameritrade Park. This is N.C. State’s third appearance in the College World Series and first since 2013.

“I cannot express how excited I am for coach Holcomb,” Conville said. “Joey has worked hard and made sacrifices to get this opportunity. Joey was a good player, he is an outstanding coach and he is an even better man. I’m so proud of him and all his accomplishments, they are all well deserved.”

N.C. State advanced to the College World Series by knocking off top-ranked Arkansas in a three-game series in the NCAA Super Regional. After losing 21-2 in Game 1, the Wolfpack won 6-5 and 3-2 to take the series. It was the first series loss of the season for Arkansas.

“The interesting thing about this team is that we have the talent to play with anyone in the country. We have had big weekends throughout the year and I believe that opened the eyes of some of our players to see how good we are,” Holcomb said. “We finished the regular season strong but lost in the ACC Championship Game. After the loss, we reflected on the tournament and realized that we failed because we were trying to do more than what we had in the past. We were trying to play at a level above our natural capabilities.

“I truly believe that realization is what helped us in the Regional and Super Regional. We focused on controlling our emotions and just playing to the level of our talent and not trying to do more. When we were in Fayetteville, we had a poor showing on Friday night but it never fazed the players. They knew they were talented enough to beat Arkansas without trying to do extra.” 

Holcomb credits the head coaches he has worked for in helping him develop during his coaching career. Beginning with Conville, Holcomb then spent seven seasons with Link Jarrett at Division I UNC-Greensboro before joining Elliott Avent’s staff at N.C. State.

“God has put people in my life that saw potential in me. People who have been unbelievable mentors to me and have invested in me more than I am worthy and I will forever be indebted to them for this,” Holcomb said. “When I look back at my career, each step has been a learning experience. When I think back to when I first started coaching, I am in shock of the freedom coach Conville gave me in terms of coaching the players.

“In all honesty, he probably should’ve fired me several times. I had no idea what I was doing and was trying to figure it out along the way. But because coach Conville gave me that freedom, I learned a lot from him and through hands-on experience. I will forever be grateful to coach Conville for giving me an opportunity to start my career and trusting me enough to let me coach daily.

“After Huntingdon, I was blessed with the opportunity to coach DI baseball at University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Again, I entered that journey in over my head but was fortunate enough to have Link Jarrett as our head coach. He was constantly feeding bits of knowledge and advice to help me grow as a coach. Even though I did not have the experience necessary, coach Jarrett gave me the opportunity to become the recruiting coordinator for UNCG.

“I am now in my second season at N.C. State and I can honestly say I would not be able to coach at this level if it weren’t for coach Conville’s trust and freedom as well as the mentorship of coach Jarrett.”

Saturday’s College World Series game between N.C. State and Stanford will be broadcast on ESPN at 1 p.m. (Central). Additional information for the game can be found on N.C. State’s schedule page.

Baseball, Huntingdon College