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Special ceremonies honor retiring Hawks wrestling Coach John Grillo

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 15 January 2019 at 8:38 pm

Retiring Holley-Kendall Coach John Grillo celebrates a win by one of his Hawk matmen during the Hawks victory over Lyndonville which followed the ceremonies in honor of his 44 years of coaching..

An outstanding 44 year wrestling coaching career was celebrated in a special way this evening as the Holley school district, students, former wrestlers and community members honored retiring Hawks Coach John Grillo.

Grillo, who has earned a state record 780 plus wins, has guided Holley to some 22 Genesee Region League and 12 section championships.

“This is just overwhelming, just overwhelming,” said Grillo of the emotional ceremony which included a video of his career and  tributes from his former wrestlers. “It all wouldn’t  have been possible without the great people I have been surrounded by, my family, friends and coaches.  I really want to thank all of the wrestlers I have coached. Wrestling has always been a huge part of my life and it always will.”

Coach Grillo address the crowd.

Family has certainly been of prime importance throughout his career as Grillo had the opportunity to coach each of his three sons – Adam, Ashley-John and Andrew – during his 30 plus years at the Holley helm.

“The positive impact John has had on his wrestlers of the years has been tremendous,” said Ashley-John Grillo. “He built a state wrestling power in this small community. For him it was all about building a foundation for a good team.”

That positive impact Grillo had on his charges was well summed up by several of his former wrestlers during the video.

“John was a father figure to me,” said Matt Paeth. He’s just done so many positive things.”

“You were an inspiration to me” said Adam Ezell. “I thank you for everything you have done for me.”

The video closed with a special community thank-you to Grillo saying “thank you for your motivation and inspiration”.  And the large crowd responded by giving Grillo a lengthy standing ovation.

Photos by Cheryl Wertman – Retiring Holley-Kendall wrestling Coach John Grillo meets here with his sons, Andrew, Adam and Ashley-John prior to the start of this evening’s ceremonies.

Coach Grillo receives a standing ovation from the large crowd following the showing of a video tribute to his 44 year coaching career.


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