N.C. State is headed to Omaha, Neb., for the College World Series, and Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Dan Ellis will be waiting.
Ellis lives in Omaha in the offseason. For the past 13 years, he has found tickets and made his way to the College World Series, enjoying all the festivities in town, and plans to do it again this year.
"N.C. State made it? Awesome," Ellis said Monday.
Ellis said he tries to soak up as much of the College World Series experience as possible each June. He said there are few "locals" who tend to shrink away from all the hubbub or leave town, turning it over to the baseball fans streaming in.
During the week of the Masters, many of the folks in Augusta, Ga., take vacations, rent out their homes to golf fans. Its not that way in Omaha.
"Its pretty cool being in the middle of it," Ellis said. "Faces painted, signs, all the school colors. I think most people in Omaha look forward to it and try to get out and enjoy the yearly fun.
"I dont really follow any specific teams, but I love the experience. Its great to go with friends to the game and see some good, honest sports."
If Ellis has a regret, its that the CWS games no longer are played at venerable Rosenblatt Stadium, out near the Omaha Zoo. After 61 years at Rosenblatt, the CWS was moved in 2011 to TD Ameritrade Park, a spiffy $128 million stadium in downtown with all the bells and whistles.
"Any time you have an old park, it has that homey, historic old-ballpark feel to it," Ellis said. "They did a great job with the new park, and it has helped bring some new restaurants and businesses to downtown, but it just doesnt have that rustic, old feel to it."
Rosenblatt has been razed. On the former site is a memorial called Johnny Rosenblatts Infield at the Zoo. The old foul poles from Rosenblatt Stadium still remain.
"I also heard they have the old home plate there," Ellis said. "Its nice to have a piece of the old park there."
Ellis will be at the new place, watching games, taking it all in. He played three years of college hockey at Nebraska-Omaha, is now one of the locals and wants to support the biggest show in town.
"Im sure I can find tickets," he said. "When does N.C. State play?"