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Campus Lens

Staying Power

Grad student Raina Perez transferred to NC State in 2020 and then decided to stick around for one more year.

Raina Perez cuts down the net at the 2021 ACC tournament. Photograph courtesy of NC State Athletics.

Raina Perez was one missed phone call away from not coming to NC State in spring 2020 as she looked to transfer from California State University, Fullerton. The then-senior had a graduate year of eligibility available from redshirting her sophomore season.

Considering her options, Perez missed a phone call from Wolfpack head coach Wes Moore. She listened to his voicemail and dismissed it as just another call. But Perez’s brother asked about it, and after 30 seconds of research, told her about NC State’s season-ending top-10 ranking. She called Moore back.

“Coach Moore always jokes about it,” says Perez. “He says, ‘Tell your brother I owe him a steak dinner.’”

Moore may be underselling what is due. Perez, who is from Goodyear, Ariz., gave the Wolfpack almost 33 minutes and 10 points a game while averaging almost five assists on her way to being an All-ACC Honorable Mention last season. There’s also the game-winner against Louisville in the ACC tournament final that netted NC State its second straight ACC championship.

Photograph courtesy of NC State Athletics.

Perez says when she got to Raleigh, NC State immediately felt like home. A water balloon fight she and her teammates had when everyone arrived that summer set the tone. “I think we just had a lot of fun,” she says.

And Perez still feels at home, so much so that she didn’t have to weigh options as to where she might play another year of college ball in 2021–22 as a graduate student studying youth, family, and community sciences when the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility due to COVID-19. It didn’t even take a call, missed or otherwise, from Moore this time around. “I don’t think there were any thoughts of me leaving NC State,” she says.

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