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Dave Olsen | A Legend

Dave Olsen – many knew him as the leader of PNC Arena, a hockey fanatic with a big smile, kindest heart and a little Northern attitude.

To me, he was my teacher, mentor, friend and like another parent to me --

For the past three years, Dave taught a class at NC State and I was lucky enough to be his teacher assistant. Dave was the most intelligent human I knew when it comes to the sports business. We rarely used a textbook because Dave WAS the book of knowledge. He could tell stories for hours about his experiences…and often times I had to get him back on track.

I often joked that Dave taught the class and I turned on the computer. Every year Dave would offer anyone in the 35+ person class to come to the arena for a personal tour. It drove me crazy responding to email requests but I knew he set out to help every person he came in contact with. In return, I would plaster his photo with Taylor Swift anytime I could use it in class.

The security at PNC Arena got to know me as I made frequent visits to the arena. More often than not that led to me attending many hockey games, concerts and even shadowing Dave during a Justin Timberlake show. Mostly Monday night classes ended with him saying to me “I’ll see you at hockey tomorrow. How many tickets do you want?” He once helped the entire class come to a hockey game, many of which had never been to a professional sporting event before. My mom, my roommate, my friends and colleagues knew Dave. I even gave him a section in my thesis research.

During the pandemic, we hosted class from Dave’s house. There I got to know his wife, Marci and dog Honey – which he adored. They all treated me like I belonged. When I say, Dave was a good person – I mean the best. He would text me to make sure I got home okay, on holidays, call me to check-in and often took me to lunch. He gave the best advice – more which I will share in another post.

We had lunch last week. I only wish I knew it would be for the last time. He talked about sports, his new swim routine, his family and how happy he would be to retire to his lake house. He knew everyone…and everyone loved Dave. I said “so who are you getting lunch with tomorrow?” He responded, “Elliott Avent”. I don’t know how I earned a spot in the rotation with the NC State baseball coach but I always felt honored when I was in Dave’s presence.

It’s a sad time for a lot of people. As I have shed a lot of tears today, I know I am the person I am personally and professionally because of Dave’s guidance.

I bet the view of the rink is even better in heaven. I miss you already.



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