COALPORT — The popularity of a local man’s catch phrase and his dedication to promoting Glendale School District events has brought him a notoriety of sorts.
On any given Friday night at Dr. Roy F. Baker Stadium in Flinton when the Glendale High School Vikings are playing football, Bob McGarvey can be found in the press box keeping one eye on the football field and the other on a list of players from each team.
And when a yellow flag sails across the field, you’ll hear McGarvey’s “Hold the Phone” catch phrase over the loudspeaker — echoed by a chorus of “Hold the Phone” repetitions throughout the fan base below.
McGarvey, a Glendale High School Class of 1982 graduate and former wide receiver when he played football for the Vikings, has been announcing varsity football games since he started announcing elementary football games about seven years ago. He not only announces elementary football games, but also junior high, junior varsity and varsity football.
“I’m up in that press box a lot,” McGarvey said in an interview from his rural Coalport home that he built himself. “I’ve been the full-time announcer for four years.”
A tanker truck driver for Blair County Oil, McGarvey works anywhere from 10 to 12 hours a day in addition to the three or so nights a week in the press box. Only one of those nights are paid — the rest are volunteer.
He says the most challenging part of being the announcer is struggling with player names, especially names from the visiting team.
“You only have a few seconds to find a jersey number and call the name out before the next play starts,” McGarvey said.
He is also an excitable announcer — and has been told that he doesn’t have to be as excited when the opposing team scores.
“(All of the football players) are working hard. I’ll get excited any time someone scores a touchdown,” McGarvey said.
Glendale High School Athletic Director John Matchock praised McGarvey’s abilities and dedication.
“Bob has done a great job. He gets paid for doing varsity games, but he comes and does JV and junior high games too. He is dedicated to his craft,” Matchock said. “He is also using social media to not only promote Glendale Athletics, but also other Glendale events such as band and chorus concerts.”
“When I played football in 1982, Joe Vesnesky was the announcer,” McGarvey said of the former history teacher and polka DJ. “He used the ‘hold the phone’ phrase all the time. When I started announcing, it seemed like a good phrase to use.”
He had no idea how popular it would become. Every time the yellow flag is thrown onto the field, “hold the phone” can be heard throughout the stadium — sometimes before McGarvey even has a chance to say it himself.
“Everybody cracks up, and I don’t know why,” McGarvey said. “This is not a new phrase, but most of the kids have no idea where it came from. It didn’t start with me — I just carried it on.”
This year, ‘hold the phone’ appeared on a t-shirt that is being sold by the Glendale H.S. Marching Band as a fundraiser. The black shirt with electric blue printing shows a hand holding a cell phone with the Viking logo on it emerging from the ‘hold the phone’ phrase in bold letters.
McGarvey and his wife, the former Dana Dixon, are long-time band supporters. Their oldest son, Harvey, graduated last year and son Zachary is a junior. Both are percussionists.
“We’re always thinking of fundraisers for the band,” McGarvey said. “It was Dana’s idea to sell the t-shirts.”
Kay Stiver, a former band booster president and a current school board member, praised the couple for their support of all district activities.
“The McGarveys support all of the students, are outside-the-box thinkers, and always very helpful. They give a lot to the Glendale community, not just music programs, choir and drama, but all of the organizations if they can.
“Bob is funny and always entertaining and most of the time doesn’t realize he’s funny,” Stiver continued. “Bob always pulls the crowd in with his announcing. The catch phrase caught on and I’ve heard it repeated several times by students and parents and even the other district fans who attend the games. I thought (the t-shirts) was a fun idea.”
Stiver said 73 of 100 shirts have been sold and more are still available in sizes M to XL at every home game. The Vikings face Claysburg-Kimmel at the homecoming game tomorrow evening.
“We are selling two shirts to Claysburg-Kimmel — and they want them autographed,” McGarvey said with a chuckle. “We’ve sold several to opposing teams.”
‘Hold the phone’ and McGarvey have become so popular in the community, that Dana McGarvey got the idea to create a social media video of her husband wearing the shirt and making announcements about school events.
“We were at church and some people were talking about the homecoming parade . . . and no one knew what time the parade was,” McGarvey explained. “So Dana decided we should do a video.”
Dana McGarvey, a 1985 Glendale graduate, described herself as her husband’s ad-hoc agent, and described her husband as “a lot of fun at his own expense. He has fun with everything,” she said.
As the video’s director, she wrote a script about the district’s homecoming activities and schedule, and made cue cards. Son Zach, using a cell phone, was the videographer. McGarvey was the star, wearing his now-famous t-shirt and standing beside a Glendale Viking flag that was hanging in the back yard.
The video was posted on Facebook, including numerous Glendale pages such as the music association, the district page, and more.
“A lot of people gave us great comments (about the video),” Dana McGarvey said.
The couple said they will continue to make videos and anything else they can think of to promote the district’s activities. They said they are already thinking of a fundraiser for the football team.
Even though the youngest McGarvey graduates in 2021, fans will likely still hear McGarvey’s voice at football games coming from the speakers.
“I do it for the kids. I’ll be announcing until the haul me out, or I say something wrong,” McGarvey said.
When he is not working or announcing, McGarvey can be found at the Masonic Lodge 574 in Coalport doing secretary duties.
“Being busy keeps me out of trouble,” McGarvey added with a smile.