Twenty years later, athletic newspaper still going strong by Bryan Johnston
In early 1984, then-football coach and athletics director Bill Dooley, fresh off a 9-2 season that ended with a 48-0 dismantling of in-state rival U.Va., came up with an idea that seemed small in the grand scheme of things. He wanted to start an in-house newspaper that donors, alumni, fans, and students could subscribe to, one that provided thorough, colorful, and insightful coverage of Virginia Tech athletics. newspapers

That seemingly small idea remains in existence today as hokiesports the newspaper, formerly the Hokie Huddler, concludes its 20th year.

"Sometimes, we'll go back and look at old issues, and it's a lot of fun to read about some of the great athletes in Virginia Tech history," says Jimmy Robertson, editor of the publication since 1996. "But it's even more amazing to go back and look at all the changes that have taken place to the newspaper over the past 20 years."


The first issue was printed in May of 1984, with All-American defensive end Bruce Smith adorning the cover. Since then, the newspaper has undergone an evolution.

Three people have served as editor of the newspaper, and an extra person has been added to the staff to help with the writing and the layout. An online version of the newspaper exists in conjunction with the athletics department website, And this year, for the first time, the newspaper can be purchased in certain convenience stores in the New River Valley.

During its 20 years, the newspaper has seen its name change three times, from the Hokie Huddler to the newspaper to its current name. The athletics department made the first name change in 2000 when it launched its website and department officials wanted to cross-promote the website and the newspaper. Since then, they have dropped the ".com" portion of the name.

Despite all of these changes, the newspaper's level of quality information about Tech athletics has remained a constant. Printed weekly during football and basketball seasons and bi-monthly in April and May, the newspaper features columns by Robertson and Bill Roth, the Voice of the Hokies. Matt Spiers, the assistant editor, writes features and handles women's basketball coverage. David Knachel takes the photos and designs the cover each week.

The up-to-date news provided in the paper primarily focuses on football, men's and women's basketball, and baseball. Fans can read the football depth chart; features on players and former athletes (the "Where Are They Now?" section); statistics and standings; and notes, quotes, and general recruiting information.

"Being a weekly newspaper, we have some constraints," Robertson says. "But we're always going to be committed to being creative as far as the type of news and features we do for our publication. We have to do things differently than a daily newspaper."

Subscriptions continue to increase for the newspaper, though Robertson attributes that growth to the success of Tech's athletics program and fans' rabid interest in the Hokies. And with Tech's entrance into the Atlantic Coast Conference, the newspaper's future is bright.

For more information on the newspaper, call 540/231-3908.

Bryan Johnston is assistant director of sports information.