A peek behind the curtain: Meet the folks who bring the excitement to Mountaineer Nation

WVU Sports
Countdown to the Big Game on WOWK
February 07 2021 06:00 pm

MORGANTOWN, WV (WVU) – Whether it’s before, during or after the Mountaineers play, WVU Athletics Video makes the fan experience come alive.

Mountaineer fans consume WVU Athletics Video content no matter where they are — on social media, in the stadium, on television or on the University’s website. They are responsible not only for the atmosphere in each venue, but also for getting fans excited in the lead-up before and the cool-down afterwards.

The team, which director Scott Bartlett asserts is the “hardest-working, most talented and dedicated staff out of any Power Five conference,” hails from all over the country — and each has their own background in the sports world. This diversity in background is a positive, Bartlett adds, and helps them put out the best content they can.

“Pulling all that together has been really neat,” he said.

Bartlett is a native of St. Albans and a 1988 graduate of West Virginia University. From his time at St. Albans High School, Bartlett knew that broadcasting would be his chosen career path and began working at a local cable access station televising everything from parades to high school sports.

Over his career, Bartlett has worked with nearly every Major League Baseball club and broadcast Monday Night Football and NASCAR races, but his fondest professional memory was having the opportunity to speak at the funeral of former WVU broadcaster Woody O’Hara.

Scott Bartlett, a diehard Pirates fan, with the Pirate Parrot. (Provided photo)

“The guy was a legend, and we became very good friends over the years,” Bartlett said. “It was a high honor to make a video and say a few words at his funeral.”

This upcoming season will be Bartlett’s 31st at WVU, where he now oversees the production nearly 4,000 pieces of content every year with his staff.

Sean Merinar, a producer for WVU Athletics Video, is another son of the Mountain State and alumnus of WVU, hailing from the northern panhandle town of Sand Hill. Like Bartlett, Merinar figured out he wanted to be in broadcasting in high school — but it was not his original career choice.

“I originally wanted to be an architect or accountant based on my love of numbers growing up, but once I got to high school and started doing radio, I knew I wanted to do production of some kind,” he said.

Merinar attended WVU in the 2000s, and it was on the WVU News desk where he realized that was his calling. He graduated Magna Cum Laude — “No big deal,” he says — before beginning his career at the now defunct Columbus-based website Palestra.

Sean Merinar poses at a team photoshoot. (Provided photo)

Since returning to WVU, Merinar works on all sorts of video that Mountaineer fans enjoy — including social media clips, videoboard content at various venues and even a little work on Will Grier’s Heisman campaign in 2018. He’s seen wins and losses, highs and lows and cried tears of both joy and sadness, but he says he is grateful for the opportunity to live and work for WVU.

“I’ve been lucky beyond measure that I get to work for the place I grew up loving,” Merinar said.

Of course, not everybody shares the West Virginia heritage, like producer Sarah Ramundt. A native of Des Moines, Iowa, Ramundt made stops at two different Big 12 schools — Iowa State for her undergraduate degree and TCU for her graduate — before making her home in Morgantown.

Interestingly enough, it took a little while for Ramundt to find her niche in sports, although she knew she wanted to work in journalism. When she arrived at Iowa State, she decided that she wanted to work at Cyclones.TV, which covers ISU athletics, and set up a meeting to inquire about an internship.

“Bold choice since I had zero experience, and I mean zero,” she recalled.

Sarah Ramundt looks for a shot at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. (Provided photo)

After a year of getting experience on the video board and in the classroom, she eventually was ready for the internship, and her career in sports media began.

She’s heading into year three at West Virginia, where she has already been able to achieve some of her goals — some of which she didn’t even know she had. For instance, Ramundt and her teammates produced the intro video that is seen by thousands of Mountaineer fans at the WVU Coliseum every basketball game.

“Seeing the guys watch it for the first time had me almost in tears,” she said. “I think because of achieving the dream of having an intro but also because I was so proud of the work the crew put in on it. We, somehow, pulled it off in under a month.”

Ramundt’s unique background within the department has been an asset according to Bartlett, who has used her fresh perspective to help move their product into the digital age — and her work with the intro video is a prime example of her contribution.

Then, of course, some of them don’t hail from so far as Iowa — but rather, right across the Pennsylvania-West Virginia border. Chris Ostien, the senior producer for WVU Athletics Video, is a native of Apollo, Pennsylvania and graduated from California University of Pennsylvania. When he finished school, he moved back home shortly before taking a job with WVU Radio and Television Services in 1997.

Chris Ostien poses at a football team’s photoshoot. (Photo provided)

Ostien oversees all of the content that fans see on the video boards, which ultimately means he is in charge of fan excitement. He looks back to one time in particular — WVU’s football game against LSU in 2011 — when he hit the jackpot by making the split-second decision to play “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes before a kickoff, sending the stadium into a frenzy.

“The place went absolutely insane. People still talk about it,” Ostien said. “I have absolutely no idea what happened during the kick return though.”

However, arguably the crown jewel of his WVU career came several years later, in fact during a lull in one particular football game. One day, Ostien recalls, he was scrolling through Twitter and saw a post from a former student of his, Anderson Small.

“And it hit me,” Ostien remembers. “Why not do a bit with Anderson and [Mountaineer videoboard mainstay] Charles ‘The Dancing Guy’ Hayes in the stands at football? [I] contacted them, they loved the idea and we were off!”

The clip went viral that day, and now years later it gets replayed across social media.

Despite their different backgrounds, everyone on the WVU Athletics Video staff shares the same enthusiasm for West Virginia Athletics, and they’ve made it their goal to bring fans the best Mountaineer content — wherever they may be.

“You want to give them the access that they don’t have,” Bartlett said. “(We try to) grab them, show them how incredible this place is and give them the WVU experience.”

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