ODU STUDENT'S WEB SITE BECOMES AREA WRESTLING FANS' HOME PAGE
Published: Thursday, January 11, 2001
Section: SPORTS , page C3
Source: BY LEE
TOLLIVER THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT
© 2001 Landmark
Jason Bryant's venture into
cyberspace - mattalkonline.com - was hardly auspicious at first.
``I put it up, and there had been maybe 10 hits after a week,''
Bryant said. ``I thought it was kind of cool, but the initial design
. . . it was wretched, to say the least.''
Although the site has improved drastically since that week in
1997, computer moguls around the world need not be worried about
Bryant. But he has taken the amateur wrestling community by storm.
There, his nickname of ``Twinkie'' is far more popular than that of
any Silicon Valley millionaire.
Since that humble start in an Old Dominion University dorm room,
mattalkonline.com has grown into what might be Virginia's most
popular amateur wrestling site. Last year, Bryant's site got nearly
three-quarter of a million hits.
``I remember breaking the million-hits mark last year,'' Bryant
said. ``I couldn't believe it had gotten to that, especially after
the way it started. I thought that was a pretty big deal. I mean, it
was a pretty humble beginning.''
That start was little more than a college freshman trying to
learn more about computers and using his interest in high school
wrestling as a platform. Now mattalkonline.com is referred to almost
reverently by those involved in wrestling.
``It's the bible for many of us,'' said Frank Lipoli, who for 20
years has been Hampton Roads' most vocal wrestling advocate. ``His
site is like going into an all-chocolate store if you love
While there is a wealth of information to be had on Bryant's
site, it is his Wrestling Forum that often draws much of the
``People in wrestling, by nature of their sport, are intense
about it,'' Bryant said. ``It gets pretty heated and is often very
colorful. There is a lot of wrestling knowledge out there.''
Bryant's site also has given those with that knowledge an area to
bond. From old fans to new, the site has been a common denominator
that didn't exist before.
``It's brought an awful lot of people together,'' Lipoli said.
Mattalkonline is a free site that started with Bryant putting in
about five hours a week. Now, during a wrestling week, it's more
like five hours a day.
That's a lot of time for a young man putting himself through
college while trying to keep a hand on what is actually his real
love: broadcasting. In fact, as popular as his Web site is, his
ability with a microphone might be what eventually brings him fame.
``He is very, very good at it,'' said Lipoli, executive director
of Virginia Challenge, a non-profit organization that runs several
tournaments, including this weekend's Virginia Duals. Lipoli often
pays Bryant to announce at his tournaments, and Bryant will get his
biggest break Friday and Saturday when he helps announce the high
school side of the Duals.
``Some might, when they hear him, be surprised that he's only
21,'' Lipoli said. ``But he has a lot of experience and has
developed a broad base in the media.''
That base started at Poquoson High, where Bryant did the
announcing for almost all of the school's sports. In fact, the name
Mat Talk actually started with a radio show on AM-1490 in Hampton..
Since then, he has announced several sporting events, including
NCAA field hockey, ODU soccer and a host of wrestling events,
including the last three years of the Eastern Region tournament.
His online ventures also have netted him media director spots for
Virginia USA Wrestling, Virginia AAU Wrestling and Virginia
In six years, Bryant has gone from what he describes as a
wrestling illiterate to someone people come to for information.
``I knew all the state capitals in the second grade, but that was
kind of useless,'' said Bryant, who is majoring in communications
with a minor in journalism. ``Knowing the wrestling stuff is getting
me somewhere, and I hope that's in the broadcasting side of
If that happens, mattalkonline.com could become second fiddle.
But maybe by then it will be big enough that Bryant will have some
help to keep it afloat.
Who knows, maybe some computer giant will buy it.
Reach Lee Tolliver at 222-5128 or at ltollive(AT)pilotonline.com
Description of illustration(s):
STEVE EARLEY/THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT
JASON BRYANT, WEBMASTER OF
MATTALKONLINE.COM, WILL BE BEHIND THE MIKE AT THE VIRGINIA DUALS
21ST ANNUAL VIRGINIA DUALS
What: High school and college wrestling in five divisions: three
for high school and two for college
When: Friday and Saturday
Where: Hampton Coliseum
Times: Wrestling begins at 9 a.m. Friday and lasts into the
night. Action continues at 8 a.m. Saturday. The semifinals in all
five divisions are scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday. Finals in all five
divisions are scheduled for 8:30 p.m.
College wrestling: Two brackets - one for Division I schools (16
teams) and the other for small colleges (eight teams). Among the
Division I schools expected to attend are Pennsylvania, Missouri,
Cornell, Lock Haven, Old Dominion, Indiana, Central Michigan,
Wisconsin, North Carolina, Cal State-Bakersfield, Buffalo, Kent
State, Ryder, Virginia, West Virginia and James Madison. Small
colleges are Newport News Apprentice, Roger Williams, Cumberland,
Western Maryland, York, SUNY-Brockport, Pensacola Christian and
Gardner-Webb. Newport News Apprentice is ranked No. 1 in the country
among small colleges.
Tickets: Friday - $8 for adults, $5 for students for all day;
Saturday - $8 for adults, $5 for students for the morning session
that includes semifinals, and $8 for adults, $5 for students for the
championship session in the evening. A two-day, all-session pass is
available for $20 for adults, $12 for students. A Saturday-only,
two-session pass is $14 for adults, $8 for students.