John started his wrestling career at Albion Central School where he enjoyed an exceptional career in Section VI. Coach Grillo stated that wrestling, “taught me to be mentally tough, how to make good choices and to become successful at whatever you do in life.”
And successful John Grillo was as a coach. His 796 wins leads all coaches in New York State history, and he has been named Genesee Regional Coach of the Year seventeen times as well as Section V Class Coach of the Year five times. Along the way, Coach Grillo has sent 26 wrestlers to the NYSPHSAA Championships crowning five of them as state champions. In his list of state champions, he has had the honor to coach his son Andrew Grillo to the top of the podium in 2004. Additionally, Quinton Murphy, another Holley standout, won 4 NYSPHSAA championships during Grillo’s tenure at Holley Central. In the 2004-05 season, Grillo was a finalist for the National Coach of the Year Award.
Coach Grillo has also been very active in several wrestling committees in the section. He has worked on the Section V Sportsmanship Committee, Section V Wrestling Committee and has served as Genesee Regional Wrestling Committee Chairperson. In 2019, he received the very prestigious Rochester Press Radio’s Charlie Wagner Award and Special Recognition Awards given by Orleans County and Holley Central School. If this is not enough, Coach Grillo has captured three Section V tennis Class championships, and his tennis teams were runner-ups three other times as well.
Ashley John Grillo, former Batavia City and current Byron-Bergen School Principal, articulated this about his father: “More important than all of his accomplishments, John Grillo is a champion for his students and athletes. As an educator and coach, he helped students find meaning and, in the process, saved many from going down dark pathways of life. Each year, many students seek him out to tell him that he made a difference in their lives and the life lessons he taught them through wrestling still resonate with them each day.” What a great tribute to a father, coach and teacher of students.
Retired Superintendent of Holley Central School had these magnificent words about Coach Grillo. “John Grillo has motivated young students and athletes to excel academically and athletically. John inspires those he has contact with to develop healthy bodies and minds—to become all they can be. John never gives up on young people and encourage them to develop goals for outstanding athletic performance and healthy life styles. He has made a lasting difference in the lives of thousands of students.” Section V wrestling chairperson, William Hadsell sums up Grillo’s career with these powerful words: “I don’t think you would find a more deserving person for the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Lifetime Service Award. John is someone who has dedicated and sacrificed his entire life for the sport of wrestling in his section and the state.”
In 2019, at the Orleans County Youth Recognition banquet, John received the Helen Brinsmaid Youth Worker Award which recognizes a youth-serving professional whose work surpasses normal expectation. In addition, Section V Wrestling and the Holley Central School in 2020 welcomed him into their Hall of Fames.
John Is the proud parent of three sons—Ashley John Grillo, Adam Joseph Grillo and Andrew Jesse Grillo. John and his wife, Diana presently live in Albion, NY.
The Upstate New York Chapter of the NWHOF is proud and honored to induct a truly great coach and person into their Hall of Fame—John J. Grillo.
Lifetime Service to Wrestling
New York - Upstate