Virginia head baseball coach Brian O'Connor has seen a lot during his years in Charlottesville. The five-time ACC Coach of the Year and 2015 College World Series champion has enjoyed one of the most successful coaching careers in the sport since taking over in 2004, winning 749 games in that time.
As UVA prepares for yet another trip to Omaha, this time for the 2021 College World Series, O'Connor reflected Wednesday on his team's resiliency and what it means for his veteran players to get the chance to play for a championship.
The veteran coach has confidence in his players and the program's game plan for Omaha, but he also admitted to getting some help from his fellow Virginia coaches along the way.
"Throughout my career there’s been incredible resources here. It’s ongoing, it’s a constant share," O'Connor said of his fellow leaders in the university athletic program. "We have this group text message with all of our head coaches that we’re always passing information along to each other. Whether it be things for recruiting, or to help your teams be successful, resources here in the community, or different things to help drive us all to be the best that we can be. There’s a ton of encouragement."
O'Connor named a number of coaches he's spoken to over the years, including the legends like Dom Starsia (lacrosse) and Brian Boland (tennis).
He also appreciates what he's gotten to see, and learn from, in real time during the men's basketball program's rise to near-elite status in the last decade.
"To be able to witness what Tony Bennett has done and the way he has done it and his leadership and his calm, poised demeanor," O'Connor continued. "I’ve learned a ton from him."
Virginia is prepared to continue to fight in Omaha despite whatever obstacles have come its way, as evidenced by the team facing elimination six times in recent weeks and coming out on top each game.
Every team that makes it to the College World Series is talented, and every team is playing some of its best baseball. But O'Connor and the Cavaliers have taken what they've learned about themselves all season long, and from some of the most successful programs in school history, to prepare for the biggest stage in college baseball.
Virginia's first game is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday against Tennessee.