Memories shared on passing of CH’s Link
Tom Link, one of the most well-known officials in District 6 the past half-century, passed away Monday at the age of 77.
Link was a former teacher, coach and athletic director but officiating and helping others excel once he got older was his passion.
“Tom did so much mentoring for officials in District 6,” District 6 male officials representative Mike Hudak said. “He took people under his wing and brought young officials along. One official emailed me this morning and said he once asked Tom why he still officiated, and Tom looked at him and said, “there just isn’t anybody to replace me.'”
Link served as the athletic director at Cambria Heights from 1977 until 1997, and during his time there helped other athletic directors assign officials to games in many sports.
Hudak sent an email out Monday about Link’s passing and said many shared their own memories of the Cambria County native.
“I don’t know if there was anyone more passionate about officiating, about evaluating, about District 6 the way Tom was,” Hudak said. “I sent a note out to all the organizations and athletic directors that Tom worked with, and I was just shocked with how many notes I got back from people about how much he loved high school athletics.”
Hudak said Link was a mentor to not only him but taught his wife when he briefly taught eighth grade classes at Ferndale.
“He and I officiated a lot together on the college and high school scene,” Hudak said. “Some of the trips we would make, he always had stories to tell. From the time we got in the car, he was telling stories about everything that happened to him over the years officiating in all these games.”
Link began officiating in 1966 and was recently recognized for more than 50 years of service to officiating.
“He was well-known throughout all of District 6,” said Ted Beam Jr., a veteran official and evaluator. “He was always there to try and help when there were people needed, whether that was training officials, securing officials or whatever he could do to help with the officiating aspect of athletics. I can’t say enough about the dedication Tom had to officiating.”
As Link got older, he stepped away from officiating basketball but continued to have a big impact on the local athletic scene.
“As he got up in years, he still did some football underclass games and softball, but he really got into evaluating,” Hudak said. “He’d go out and talk to these younger officials. When I had Tom go out and do an evaluation, whether it was football or basketball, I could expect three or four hand-written pages about the game.
“He was as through as it came at filling out the evaluations and his documentary of the game and each official’s strong points and what they needed to work on. He took it seriously. He knew it was important to those officials and to me to get that information.”
Beam also remembered that dedication.
“I knew Tom early from football and basketball,” Beam said. “I always found him to be someone who was just so into the officiating allocation to the best of his ability. He wanted to help others succeed, and he did anything that he possibly could to achieve that goal.”
Surviving are his wife of nearly 50 years, Linda Switzler; a daughter, Jill; a son, Dirk and wife, Bridget Borelli; two granddaughters: Ainsley and Avery Link; a sister, Jeanne (Link) Mozina; his mother-in-law, Betty Lou Switzler; and numerous nieces and nephews.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a brother-in-law, Joseph Mozina; a sister-in-law, Rita (Drotar) Switzler; and three nephews: Christian Switzler, Scott Campbell and Devin Maurer.
Due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus, there will be a private viewing and service for the family. A larger celebration will be held at a later date.
“He’ll really be missed as a friend, mentor and certainly as a respected official and athletic director in District 6,” Hudak said.