The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

In the Spotlight

October 25, 2013

Winding down: Clock-watcher for Hilltop sports ready to retire

JOHNSTOWN — Earl Mostoller does not like to waste any time.

During his 55 years as a timekeeper for basketball games at Westmont Hilltop School District and 40 years of running the clock for Westmont football, Mostoller carefully watched the referees so that he could stop the clock at the correct time.

As a teacher, he gave his students the time needed to excel.

Mostoller, who retired as a teacher at Westmont in 1993 after 37 years of service, is hanging up his duties as a timekeeper this year.

The school district is looking for someone to fill his shoes starting with this basketball season, but until that happens he will continue to  keep time.

Mostoller started teaching at Westmont in 1956.

Two years later, high school athletic director Mike Manion directed Mostoller to keep


“I was terrified of him, so when he told he that I was going to run the clock for basketball, I did,” Mostoller said.

“Once I started keeping time in basketball, I found that I enjoyed it. I enjoyed being with the students.”

Mostoller said he has worked with every athletic director and coach that the school district, founded in 1918, has had.

That circumstance happened because the district’s first athletic director, Carl Engh, did not retire until a year after Mostoller began keeping time for basketball. Engh also was the only coach in the district for decades.

Mostoller started keeping time for all football games in 1973. He missed only one football game, and that was because he had appendicitis.

The only Westmont basketball games that Mostoller missed were from 1982 to 1985. A Davidsville resident, he wanted to watch his son Brad play basketball for Conemaugh Township Area High School.

He also has been keeping time for all Westmont Hilltop track meets for the past 20 years.

In addition, Mostoller kept time for football games for

Bishop McCort Catholic and Conemaugh Township Area high schools for the past several seasons.

Mostoller said he also is resigning as timekeeper for those two schools after this football season.

“I’ll be 80 in July and decided it was time to hang it up,” he said.

Keeping the time for athletic events is not as easy as it sounds, Mostoller said.

“You have to know the timing rules,” he said. “It’s as simple as knowing when to start and stop the clock. You just don’t automatically stop it when the whistle blows. Sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t.

“The thing that most people don’t realize is that the timekeeper does not watch the game. He watches the officials because any one of them can stop the clock.

“In football, you have to watch all six, who are spread out all over the field. You have to know where they are and watch them all.

“We are part of the officiating crew, so we can’t cheer for either team. We have to be neutral.”

Mostoller said the most difficult sport to keep time for is track.

“You have to determine who won the heat, and sometimes it is a virtual dead heat,” he said.

Mostoller started teaching when the high school was known as the Westmont-Upper Yoder High School.

He taught social studies and English and served many years as the adviser for the yearbook and newspaper.

“Teaching is a field where you have delayed gratification,” Mostoller said. “You really don’t recognize the impact that you have on a student until they’re grown and gone.

“I run into many of my former students in their professional capacities. You realize that you had a little something to do with their development into the people that they are. Many of them will come to me at a basketball or football game and thank me for what I have done for them.

“In many cases, I didn’t realize that I had done anything for them.”

Mostoller said all of the students he had over the years were great.

As a timekeeper, he said he had a chance to meet some of the greatest people you would ever come across – the players and cheerleaders.

Mostoller, a 1952 graduate of Ferndale High School, became an adjunct professor at Mount Aloysius College after retiring from Westmont. He taught social science at the college until last year.

While at the college, he also taught economics through the school’s outreach program to inmates at three state correctional institutions.

Mostoller is an active member at Stoystown United Church of Christ.

He has served as an assistant moderator and moderator of the Penn West Conference of the United Church of Christ. He also has served as secretary of the conference and participated in church synods at the national level.

“My favorite book in the Bible is James,” he said. “In it, James says faith without works is dead. And so if you have faith, you have to be involved.”

Mostoller’s wife, Sandy, also is active in various capacities at the church, where she is the organist.

The Mostollers have two sons, Brad and Derek, and one granddaughter, Delaney, 6.

Westmont Hilltop Superintendent Susan J. Anderson said Mostoller has demonstrated dedication to students not only in the classroom but also in extracurricular activities.

“As a teacher, his influence extended well beyond the classroom as he was ever-present in the stadiums and stands and bleachers, applauding and cheering,” Anderson said.

“Retirement only intensified his opportunity to show his true Hilltopper spirit.

“For our athletes, Mr. Mostoller was the ever-present fan. He believed in their capacity and reinforced their team spirit. He cared about their progress and their struggles. He supported their efforts and their successes, and he helped to put their losses into perspective.”

Westmont Hilltop athletic director Tom Callihan said Mostoller is dependable as a timekeeper and stays current with the rules for the various sports.

“I think he enjoys being around the students in a school setting,” Callihan said. “Being a former teacher, it gives him that connection with the school even after retirement.

“He’s a great timekeeper.”

It takes a special knack to not get so absorbed in the game that you forget about keeping time, Callihan said.

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