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Joe Grasso - Calling Hours

 

For the full obituary and call hours click on the following link:

http://www.mcveighfuneralhome.com/obituaries/Joseph-Grasso-2/#!/Obituary

Long Time Section 2 Football Legend Dies

 

 

Joe Grasso, who guided the Bishop Maginn varsity football program during its entire varsity existence, died Sunday of a heart attack. He was 66.

Bishop Maginn did not field a varsity team this fall. Grasso, a 1968 graduate of Cardinal McCloskey, joined the Christian Brothers Academy staff as an assistant. He was on the sidelines Friday with the Brothers during their 44-8 victory over Niskayuna.

 

Troy coach Bobby Burns, who works with Grasso's son Mike, who is Troy's offensive coordinator, said Joe Grasso did not attend Sunday's CBA coaches meeting in the morning.

CBA football coach Joe Burke, who played for Grasso at Bishop Maginn and is his nephew, tried to contact his uncle. According to Burns, Grasso's daughter went to his home and found him in bed.

"He was a guy that, even when you played against him, you respected immensely," Burns said. "Joe was just a stand-up guy."

"This is a loss for the Section II coaching fraternity, and Section II athletics as a whole," Albany second-year football coachJoey DiPiazza said.

Burke said his family is devastated.

"Joe was a leader in Catholic education in the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese, specifically at Bishop Maginn High School, for 40 years," Burke said. "As a teacher, administrator, athletic director and coach, he touched the lives of thousands of students, athletes and their families. He also molded hundreds of young teachers and coaches as they began their careers."

Grasso was the only coach Bishop Maginn varsity football ever had, leading the Golden Griffins from the school's inception in 1977 through 2015. Prior to that, he coached Vincentian Institute in its final two years in 1975 and 1976.

Grasso was one of the five coaches inducted into the inaugural class of the Capital Region Football Hall of Fame in 2010. The others were Brent Steuerwald (Shenendehowa), Blase Iuliano (Saratoga), Ken Baker (Hoosick Falls/Cambridge) and Bud Kenyon (Hoosick Falls/Greenwich/Guilderland).

When informed of the news of Grasso's death Sunday evening, Steuerwald was stunned.

"He was a very, very fine person and we went back a long ways," Steuerwald said. "I have nothing but high regard for everything he had done. He served on my (Section II football) committee for many, many years. He sat in my dining room with other coaches talking about all the issues with football and what we could do to make it better."

"This is awful," said Nick Fitzgerald, president of the Capital District Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. "This is such a sad day for Section II."

Fitzgerald served on the Class A football committee with Grasso. When he decided to create the Capital Region Football Hall of Fame, Grasso was someone he realized had to be part of the selection committee.

"We definitely wanted him, not only for his experience, but his knowledge and love for Section II football," Fitzgerald said. "What was so great about Joe is he had such a pulse of the section. He always knew what different programs were doing and what was good for Section II football."

Grasso led Bishop Maginn to a 10-0 record and the Section II Class A title in 1978 — the first year of playoffs in the area when only one playoff game was held in each class. The Golden Griffins beat Bethlehem 28-0 at Bleecker Stadium. Steuerwald served as a color commentator on TV that day, and then led Shenendehowa to titles in 1979 and 1980.

Grasso became the third area coach to reach 200 career wins in 2014. He led Bishop Maginn to a record of 204 wins, 169 losses and six ties.

A few days after Bishop Maginn beat Mohonasen for his 200th career win, Grasso said, "Given the numbers in our school and in our program, we have sort worn the badge of courage of being the underdog — a small school playing in the big leagues. We've done well over the years. We've had our ups and downs."

The last Bishop Maginn team to advance to the Super Bowl came in 2008. The Golden Griffins lost 19-0 against Burnt Hills.

Even though Bishop Maginn's enrollment dwindled and fewer players came out for football, Grasso kept the Golden Griffins viable as a program well into his fourth decade at the school.

"He faced some strong serious challenges and always seemed to find a way to work through them and turn a challenge into a positive. That was a characteristic of his life," Steuerwald said. "If I had something I wanted to talk to him privately about, I could do so with great confidence. Joe would give me his opinion and advice. ... We all had great respect for him. I am shocked by his death. It is truly a shame."

"If you asked something of Joe, he always gave you a straightforward answer," Fitzgerald said. "You knew what he said was authentic. Joe Grasso left his mark every place he went."

"He was a tremendous asset to the CBA football program and specifically to our kids and to our staff," Burke said. "Like all else he did, he immersed himself right in the thick of things. Like many of us who knew Joe well, the young men at CBA, who have only known Coach Grasso for a few months, will struggle with his passing."

Burns echoed a sentiment from the people that knew Grasso well.

"My team and our coaches will be at his service. I can guarantee you that," Burns said. "Joe loved Section II football so much. This is a horrible day."

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Section 2 Executive Director

Attached is a posting for the position of Executive Director of Section 2.

Attachments:
Download this file (Posting.pdf)Executive Director Posting[ ]19 kB

Anthony Bellai

Long time Wrestling Coach and Physical Education teacher at Saratoga High School, Anthony Bellai, passed away Saturday.  

 

The following is the link to the obituary in the Daily Gazette:  http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/dailygazette/obituary.aspx?n=anthony-p-ballai&pid=181453784&fhid=8189

 

Saratoga Springs coach Anthony Bellai dead at 51

 
 

 

SARATOGA SPRINGS >> There will be one less smile in the halls of Saratoga Springs High School’s halls on Monday morning as students and faculty come to grips with the sudden passing of long-time educator and coach Anthony Bellai who died suddenly at the age of 51 over the weekend.

 

 

Bellai coached the Blue Streaks varsity wrestling team for 10 years and then stepped down to watch his son and daughter compete at Schalmont High School in basketball, football and wrestling. He returned to the sidelines since and coached the Saratoga Springs modified wrestling squad through last season.

 

 

The news of the sudden passing of Bellai shook students at Saratoga and surrounding communities who knew him as a coach, a gym teacher and a consistent ray of laughs and a constant smile with numerous mentions on Twitter Saturday and Sunday.

 

 

A state champion wrestler with Mont Pleasant in 1981 at 105-pounds, his passion for the sport carried through during his tenure at Saratoga Springs, passing on a legacy that includes current Blue Streak coach and former wrestler Kris West.

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“I think everyone is shocked,” Kris West said. “He was such a young guy, so full of life. He was a guy that everyone was drawn to and attracted to and a great person to be around.

 

 

“He’s always laughing, in a good mood; he always put you in a good mood. He always knew how to put a smile on someone’s face, cheer them up and make their day better. He is going to be sorely missed.”

 

 

During West’s junior year at Saratoga Springs Bellai joined the program as the JV coach under Bob Stulmaker.

 

 

“He was one of the main reasons I was a sectional champ,” West said. “I had an opportunity to wrestle for him, a chance to coach with him for the last 15 years. I was pretty lucky.”

 

 

Bellai’s personality was larger than his size according to West.

 

 

“He made everyone happy, you didn’t have to be one of his wrestlers or you didn’t have to be in one of his phys. Ed classes, you could just be a kid walking down the hallway, people loved him,” West said. “People that didn’t know him came into contact with him once and loved him, loved the guy. He just had that type of personality that people wanted to be around him.”

 

 

His magnetic personality even carried across the mat in the sport as he was remembered by his rival coach and friend, Shenendehowa varsity coach Rob Weeks.

 

 

“He was one of the pioneers of my generation and one of the guys that we looked up to as a hero as a wrestler and a great ambassador for the sport afterwards, it is sad,” Rob Weeks said. “We had a nice, healthy rivalry with them and he invested his time and effort into the program.”

 

 

Weeks said can appreciate what the Saratoga community will be going through as classes resume today.

 

 

“Monday will be a somber day in the school district and rightfully so,” Weeks said. “There will be a lot of questions, concerns, outpouring and it’s a sad reality that people who influence a lot of people are the ones that leave the biggest void when they are gone. I’m sure Saratoga will be recognizing that in the next days and weeks ahead.”

 

 

Calling hours for Bellai and his family will be held Tuesday, Sept. 20 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the DeMarco-Stone Funeral Home at 1605 Helderberg Avenue in Rotterdam. A memorial mass will be held at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21 at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, 210 Princetown Road in Rotterdam.

 

 

 

Sportsmanship Award - Columbia

East Greenbush HS won the NYSPHSAA Sportsmanship Promotion Award for the 4th straight year.  Congratulations to Mike Leonard and the entire East Greenbush School District for a great job.

Click on the attached photo to see BOE President Joanne Taylor, Athletic Director Mike Leonard and Superintendent, Jeffrey Simons accepting the banner.

Attachments:
Download this file (ColumbiaRecognitionLuncheon.pdf)Columbia Photo[ ]337 kB

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