The Wolfpacker

January 2017

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 41 of 103

42 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY BRUCE WINKWORTH F rom 2003-05, there was no greater fan favorite at Doak Field than Joey Devine. In his three seasons at NC State, Devine ap- peared in 87 games and saved 36 of them, both school records. He won 11 games, struck out 206 in just 150 1/3 innings, and earned first-team All-ACC honors three times and All-America accolades once. When he came out of the bullpen to pre- serve a lead in the ninth inning, he was as good as money in the bank. He was head coach Elliott Avent's human victory cigar. Don't look now, Wolfpack fans, but Devine will return to the Doak in 2017, in uniform, but as a student assistant coach on Avent's staff while finishing the degree he left hanging when he signed with the Atlanta Braves in 2005. A parks, recreation and tourism major back in the day, Devine will re-enroll at NC State to earn a degree in leadership in the public sector, a new online curriculum. "I can't wait to get started," Devine said. "NC State meant so much to me when I was there. When I look back, I enjoyed my three years playing baseball at NC State so much more than anything that happened in my professional career. "It's a thrill to get a chance to go back there, work with the young men in that program and start giving something back." Injuries and elbow surgeries curtailed Devine's professional career, but not before he got off to a quick start with the Braves. Chosen in the first round of the 2005 MLB Draft, he reached Atlanta less than two months after signing. Following the 2007 season, the Braves traded him to Oakland for veteran outfielder Mark Kotsay. Beset by injuries at that point, including Tommy John surgery following the 2008 campaign, Devine saw his last game action in 2011. He became a free agent in the fall of 2012 following an unsuccessful rehab from his second Tommy John operation. Despite the injuries, Devine managed to cobble together a pretty decent, albeit brief, big league career. He appeared 93 times in five seasons, finishing with an 8-3 record and a 2.76 ERA. In 88 innings, he allowed only 62 hits and struck out 89. He looked for another playing opportunity after the 2012 season, but his phone calls went unanswered. "That ship had sailed," Devine said. "I never officially retired, but that was the end of my playing career." After working a couple of years as a representative for a player agency, Devine found he longed for a more fulfilling career. Fate intervened twice over the past calen- dar year. First, his father, Larry Devine, died last January at age 64 from a massive stroke. Then, in August, he had a chance encounter with former Oakland teammate and Raleigh native Landon Powell. Those two seemingly unrelated events combined to put Devine on the path back to NC State. "I'm always looking for signs," Devine said. "I believe the good Lord gives us plenty of signs if we'll only follow them. I remember several months after my father passed away, I woke up in the middle of the night with a fully formed idea of where I needed to go with my life, that I needed to be in Raleigh, at NC State. "My dad was such a huge influence in my life, and he always wanted me to go back and finish my degree. It was like he was right there with me, pointing me in the right direction. The very next week, I ran into Landon Powell." Powell and Devine crossed paths at a sum- mer baseball showcase camp in Emerson, Ga. Powell was there coach- ing his 18-U traveling team from Greenville, S.C. Devine was look- ing for potential recruits for his agency. In the course of catching up with one an- other, Devine mentioned that he was look- ing for a new career opportunity. He asked Powell about coaching and mentioned how he thought college coaching would be es- pecially satisfying. "I said I wanted to have more of an im- pact on players lives, and that I was think- ing about going back to college," Devine said. "Landon told me that the NCAA now allows college teams to have student assis- tant coaches, that you can work as a coach while finishing your degree. It was exactly what I was looking for. "It became clear to me right there just what the next chapter of my life should be about, that I should be at NC State helping coach the young men in that program." After his conversation with Powell, Devine talked with his wife, Erin, whom he met in 2004 when they were under- graduates at NC State. With her on board, he called Avent. Things progressed quickly from there. Devine enrolled for 15 credit hours on- line at Lenoir Community College in Kin- ston, N.C., transferring those hours to NC State prior to being readmitted. He and Erin also began the challenge of moving their family. They have three children: sons Mason (5) and Hudson (2), and daughter Henley (3). The Devines listed their home in Suwanee, Ga., and are seeking tempo- rary quarters in the Raleigh area while they build a home near Apex. If Devine's return to NC State seems like a case of manifest destiny, it's not the first time. After graduating from Junction City (Kan.) High School in June 2002, Devine still had not decided where he would at- tend college. He made four official visits during his senior year — to Kentucky, New Mexico, Kansas and Wichita State — plus a couple of unof- ficial visits, but did not commit to any of them. "None of them felt right to me, so I never made a com- mitment," Devine ex- plained. That summer he was working full- time for a moving and storage company in Junction City and playing baseball at night for the semi-pro Salinas Jayhawks. At the end of that June, he got a phone call from Billy Jones, NC State's recruiting COMING HOME Joey Devine Baseball (2003-05) Age: 33 Living: Raleigh Occupation: Student/volunteer baseball assistant for NC State Did you know? In 2005, Devine became the first player drafted by the Atlanta Braves to make his professional debut the same year he was picked since Bob Horner in 1978, who ironically was born in Devine's hometown of Junction City, Kan. ? WHERE ARE THEY NOW While at NC State, Devine saved a program- record 36 games before being picked in the first round of the 2005 MLB Draft by the At- lanta Braves. PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE MEDIA RELATIONS NC State's Most Prolific All-Time Reliever Will Be Back In A Wolfpack Uniform This Spring In A New Role WHEREARETHEYNOW?

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