Donahue grad thriving as OVC commissioner

WHEELING – It’s a long journey from Benwood to Nashville via New York. But it is one that Travis Tellitocci has navigated quite successfully.

The Bishop Donahue High grad continued his academic career at Marist University. After picking up his college diploma in 2004 from the Poughkeepsie, N.Y. institution, Tellitocci, after a stint with the New York Mets entertainment division, returned to Marist, excelling in several athletic-related capacities.

His quality work did not go unnoticed. So much so, Tellitocci exited the Empire State to serve as assistant commissioner of the Ohio Valley Conference, based in Nashville.

The OVC is comprised of Belmont, Eastern Illinois, Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville State, Morehead State, Murray State, Southeast Missouri State, Southern Illinois at Edwardsville, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech and Tennessee Martin and Austin Peay.

Tellitocci joined the OVC in September of 2016. His duties as assistant commissioner are overseeing football, basketball and officiating.

In his capacity, he also serves as tournament manager for the OVC men’s and women’s basketball championships and baseball championship. Moreover, he was the tourney manager for the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament first and second-round games in Nashville.

Tellitocci arrived in Music City after an impressive tenure at Marist where he served in a host of capacities.

The Marshall County native joined the Marist staff in 2006 as assistant athletics director for external affairs. He was subsequently promoted associate athletics director for internal affairs just two years later.

In 2013 he was elevated to senior associate athletics director for internal affairs before being named Marist’s deputy athletics director in 2016.

Marist becoming Tellitocci’s collegiate academic home – and future employer — came about thanks to a school trip.

“When I was at Bishop Donahue we took a retreat to New York where the Marist brothers were located. While at the retreat they asked anyone if they wanted to take a van ride to Marist College,” Tellitocci said. “I said ‘what the heck’ and went to check it out. I walked around the place by myself and fell in love with it.

“It was beautiful place located right on the Hudson River. It was a school where I could study broadcasting,” he added. “I just had to convince my parents to let me go to Marist. Fortunately, they did.”

In regards to his work career with Marist, Tellitocci admits he had a full plate, one that served him well for his current role.

I began working at Marist in 2006 in the marketing and communications field, obtaining corporate sponsorships while also marketing DI programs. In 2008, I took a job in finance even though it wasn’t one of my strong suits. I was overseeing all the athletic budgets and kept moving up the ladder,” he noted. “At a mid-major school you must wear many different hats..and I did that. My athletic director at Marist let me be involved. I took on a little too much but it really helped my career.

“Our conference commissioner made me aware of the opening with the OVC. I applied but did not hear anything for a good while. Then an email came out of the blue about an interview,” he said. “I fell in love with Nashville during my interview. It’s an amazing city with so much energy. They say 80-100 people move into Nashville everyday.”

The Ohio Valley Conference’s dozen members encompass five states – Tennessee, Alabama, Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky. While such an expansive geographic conference presents challenges, Tellitocci relishes his responsibilities.

“You see a new side of athletics working for a conference. It has opened my eyes to new things,” Tellitocci noted. “You must be able to get all 12 schools on the same page. I enjoy working with all the conference schools instead of the same staff at one school.

“What I really enjoy is running our conference tournaments. The last two years our basketball tournament was held in Evansville and we broke attendance records,” he continued. “I also enjoy working with the NCAA. This position is a very unique opportunity. One I truly love.”

Before joining the Marist athletics department, Tellitocci worked as associate producer for Scoreboard and Entertainment for the New York Mets. In that role, he directed pre-game presentation on the field at Shea Stadium for all Mets home games. He also was responsible for the content and operation of Shea Stadium’s 11 LED video displays.

Tellitocci, age 36, and his wife, Bobbi Sue, are the parents of two sons, Tyler (4) and Hudson (2).

BUBBA’S BITS

OVAC CHAMPIONSHIP season is about to commence for spring sports. The conference softball and baseball champions will be crowned this Saturday, weather permitting. Tennis champs will be decided this week over several days while the track & field champions will be crowned May 4 at St. Clairsville.

SEATTLE QB Russell Wilson agreed to a $35 million per year contract Monday, making him the highest paid player in the NFL, nudging slightly ahead of Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers. Tom Brady, meanwhile, the best ever to play the position, is set to make $14 million in base salary this year.

KATRINA WIERZBICKI is enjoying a sparkling season for the Otterbein College softball team. The sophomore standout has started all 32 games for the 19-13 Redbirds. Wierzbicki is hitting .336 with three home runs and 21 RBI. She is the daughter of Ted and MaLinda (Galich) Wierzbicki. Ted is a former all-Ohio lineman at Bridgeport High and successful prep head football coach while MaLinda was a record-setting sprinter at St. John Central.

THE INDIANA State baseball team continues to enjoy a strong spring season. The Sycamores enter weekend play with a 27-8 mark. Former Skyvue High great Mitch Hannahs is the Sycamores’ head coach. Hannahs is a member of the OVAC and Indiana State Halls of Fame.

JIM PEAL was a standout football player at Shadyside High. He went on to a sparkling career as a strength & conditioning coach at several D-1 colleges, the last being Butler. Shadyside School Superintendent John Haswell honored Peal at Wednesday’s BOE meeting for Peal’s generous contributions to the Tigers’ weightroom. His latest donations included four power racks, bars, weights, two leg machines, jammer and two pulldown racks.

THE ANNUAL Ohio Valley Football Coaches Association Spring Football Recruiting Night is set for this Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Generations in Wheeling. Schools still owing money for dues or plaques are asked to pay at that time. Any questions, call Ty at 740-695-0072 or Mike at 304-312-9125.

THE NFL released its schedule for the upcoming season. Cleveland is now TV darlings. The Browns will be featured in four NFL prime-time games.

I WISH all our readers a most blessed and joyous Easter.

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