New Martinsville Native Makes Mark at WVU

WHEELING – For more than 20 years, New Martinsville native John Antonik has informed the world about West Virginia University sports.

He started in the WVU Sports Information Department in 1988 while still a broadcast journalism student there and took over as assistant sports information director in 1991.

Today he serves as director of new media for sports information, overseeing WVU sports presence on the Internet.

And he has also written two books – one on the history of WVU football and the most recent centering on more than 100 years of WVU basketball.

“I love it,” Antonik said of his job. “I like the people I work with. When you are at a place where you have respect for the people you work with, it makes it enjoyable.”

Antonik acknowledged he knew as a college student he wouldn’t have a career in broadcast journalism after seeing his on-air work. It was then he began to seek career guidance from those around him.

Word of Antonik came to Shadyside native Joe Boczek, who was then serving as sports information director at WVU. He would hire Antonik first as a student assistant, then as a graduate assistant.

In 1991, Shelley Poe took over as sports information director, and Antonik was tapped as assistant sports information director.

“The department was much smaller then,” he said. “There were just a couple of students, myself and Shelley Poe covering sports.”

Antonik’s focus was on women’s baseball, and he helped with men’s football and basketball coverage.

Then during the late 1990s, the Internet started to become prevalent, and WVU was looking to how it could take advantage of the new marketing tool.

“It was just starting to get on people’s radars,” Antonik said. “I was interested in taking this on. We were always wanting to do in-house communications and marketing.

“Back then, there were not a lot of schools doing it. I was just stumbling around, seeing what we needed to do.”

Antonik has served as director of new media for the WVU Sports Information Department since 1999. He coordinates the department’s website, focusing on its design and editorial content.

Antonik was tapped to compile and write a history of WVU football, titled the “West Virginia University Football Vault.” Royalties benefit the WVU athletic scholarship fund, and the book is in its second printing.

The success of the football project led to a second book, “Roll Out the Carpet: 100 Years of WVU Basketball.”

Antonik interviewed coaches and players with WVU basketball since the 1950s. It includes an introduction by former basketball great Rod Thorn, and an afterword written by former WVU basketball player and current coach Bob Huggins.

A delay in the publication actually allowed Antonik to include highlights of WVU basketball’s 101st season – one in which the Mountaineers went all the way to the Final Four.

“There really has not been much written on WVU basketball – a lot on football,” Antonik said. “I’m getting my bearings, hoping we can sell this book and get to a second run.

“And the scholarship fund is getting the royalties,” he added. “When people buy these books, they are helping student athletes.”