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Justin Stottlemyre has right timing for Gonzaga basketball

Gonzaga basketball clock operator Justin Stottlemyre began learning his trade as a 5-year-old at his dad’s pick-up games. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
By Michael Gulledge The Spokesman-Review

Justin Stottlemyre has been operating scoreboards for decades.

He began running the scoreboard at the age of five, while his father would play pick-up basketball games.

“I remember going to the gym all the time as a kid. It occupied my time,” Stottlemyre said.

Stottlemyre has operated the scoreboard for various minor league and independent league baseball teams across the country, including the Spokane Indians. He is in his first full year of operating the scoreboard at Gonzaga, having filled in the past few years for the late John Oakley, who passed away on Nov. 10, 2016. Oakley ran the GU scoreboard for 18 years.

Assistant athletic director Todd Zeidler and Stottlemyre attended Bemidji State University in Bemidji, Minnesota, where the two friends worked in the sports information department as students. A few years ago, when Zeidler was in need of someone to fill a spot at the scorer’s table, he knew he had a trusted friend he could contact.

Stottlemyre’s duties as the scoreboard operator range from tallying player fouls, team timeouts, the total score, ensuring the game clock is running, and controlling the horn for player substitutions and media timeouts. He is one of the four in charge of in-game operations at the scorer’s table.

The stoppage of play due to a foul or out-of-bounds call is controlled by the referees. Whenever the referees blow their whistle to signal a stoppage of play, a sensor within the whistle detects the movement of air and stops the game clock.

Sometimes a referee may inadvertently blow into their whistle and stop the clock mid-play. One job of Stottlemyre’s is to ensure this does not happen by keeping a keen eye on the game clock.

Aside from his duties operating the scoreboard, there is an official scorer, a shot clock operator, and another person controlling replay.

According to Stottlemyre, the most challenging of these jobs is the shot clock operator.

“So many moving pieces and bodies on the court,” Stottlemyre said. “It’s a judgment call. Ninety percent of the time it’s pretty obvious, but the other 10 percent of the time it’s judgment.”

Scoreboards have evolved from the manually operated system of lightbulbs and twist dials to a more digital system, and Stottlemyre has witnessed this transformation first-hand.

Athletic venues are now able to transition between video, statistical information, and a scoreboard due to the new technology.

“While I run the nuts and bolts of it at GU, there is a team of other people that deliver the additional player stats and content for the other various LED boards in venue,” Stottlemyre said.