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You can tag-team in wrestling, but there are no teams in tag


Mike Teesdale with his Shawn Grady Memorial Award director's chair in his Clinton home.

A red, director’s chair, embroidered with white lettering. In the transient world of boys varsity hockey, where players, coaches and records are in a constant state of flux, it’s one thing that has remained a constant in Clinton for the past two and a half decades. The chair has become a symbol of the hometown hockey spirit.

“It’s pretty much the golden egg,” said Mike Teesdale, a senior at Clinton High School. 

Following the conclusion of the 2015–16 season for the Clinton Warriors, Teesdale was awarded the Shawn Grady Memorial Award. He was the 25th skater ever to be named a recipient of the honor.

Shawn Grady died during his senior year of high school in 1991 after a three-year battle with cancer. During that final hockey season, he played on and off with the hockey team when his treatment schedule and strength allowed him to.

He was a tenacious athlete. The memorial award’s first winner in 1992, Rick Maxam, remembers Grady, his teammate and close friend, as “very strong-willed” and someone who practiced constantly.

Shawn Grady in his junior high school hockey season (1990–91). Photo: Courtesy of the Grady family

For today's current players, Grady's memory has not only survived, it’s still a vibrant part of the team’s culture. 

When asked what he knew about Shawn Grady, Teesdale said, “I didn’t meet Shawn, but Shawn is someone who you look up to. Hearing the stories, you know what he’s all about. … It’s an honor. It’s really big to be claiming something after somebody like him.”

While the director’s chair is often given to one of the top performers on the stat sheets, those responsible for naming its recipients will tell you that courage and competitiveness on and off the ice ranks highest in their selection criteria. 

Because Grady was a three-sport athlete, director’s chairs are also given out through Clinton’s football and baseball teams. But for local sports in the Mohawk Valley, hockey has become synonymous with Shawn Grady.

The concept of giving a chair, as opposed to a trophy or plaque or some other standard form of memorabilia, is a tradition that originates with the Hamilton College men’s hockey program. Shawn Grady’s father, Phil Grady, served as head coach of the Hamilton program for more than 20 years. During that tenure, he began presenting each graduating senior with a chair.

In a previous interview, Brian Grady—Shawn Grady’s teammate and younger brother by four years—explained that when it came time to decide what type of award to give players in Shawn’s memory, the director's chair just made sense. 

“It’s amazing to think about how much time has passed and how many kids have been recognized with that honor,” said Brian Grady. “For my family, it’s a great tribute to a lost brother and a lost son.”

Stepping back, the list of award recipients also serves as a timeline of Clinton hockey history. It unifies both the teams and the distinguished members of each season’s alumni, many of whom continue to live locally and contribute to the community.

Rick Maxam, the first-ever Shawn Grady Memorial Award winner, and his director's chair. Photo: Courtesy of Rick Maxam 

Adirondack Ice Bowl Director Jim O’Brien was the recipient of the Shawn Grady Memorial Award for the 1996–97 season. Today, despite being one of the leading point-earners and a captain for Clinton at the time, he still remembers the overwhelming emotions he experienced while fumbling over a thank you speech during his awards banquet at Alteri’s restaurant. 

“They called my name and I didn’t even know what to say, I was so dumbfounded. I wasn’t expecting it,” said O’Brien, who proudly still has his chair today. “I remember vividly the day Shawn passed away, I knew what kind of kid he was. It just kind of hit me. It hit me hard. … I think I might have even cried.”

For Maxam, it’s a similar point of pride. He said he is most happy that the award has maintained its significance after more than 20 years since Shawn Grady’s death. 

“It’s really impressive to me,” said Maxam. “I’m really happy it’s a prestigious award still.”

Share The Signal with your Monday motivator. 
Does your yard, home, garage or other space need some cleaning up? The Hamilton College football team is lending a hand on April 23. Reserve now: 859-4907.


It was fashionably late but New York’s $156 billion spending plan for the 2015–16 fiscal year was passed last Friday. Here are some of the points that were included:

>$300 million for a new Oneida County hospital.

>Minimum wage in upstate will reach $12.50 by 2021. NYC will get up to $15 in three years, but there’s “a safety valve” should lawmakers change their minds. 

>Tuition at SUNY colleges will, in fact, be frozen. At least for one year. 

>Out of $55 billion in transportation funding, $27 billion will benefit upstate projects (i.e. the Thruway). 

>The Gap Elimination Adjustment was killed off. $24.8 billion will go to public schools, a record high increase (6.5 percent).

>An employee-funded, paid family leave program for up to 12 weeks was approved. 

>$585 million in state funding was allocated to the Marcy Nanocenter.

>Stay tuned for middle-class tax cuts, too. The budget plan included income tax cuts in the billions beginning in 2018 for families making less than $300K.


9–11:30 a.m. and 1–4 p.m. Mandala of Compassion at MVCC; additional times daily through April 7

7 p.m. Comedy CNY trivia night at the Village Pub

7:30–10 p.m. Irish Seisiún at Nail Creek Pub & Brewery

Wednesday, April 6, 7:30 p.m. Ragtime at the Stanley Theatre; additional show Thursday

Friday, April 8, 7:30 p.m. "A Land Twice Promised" stories presented by Noa Baum at Stone Church

Saturday, April 9, 3–9 p.m. Utica Wine & Chocolate Festival at the Utica Aud

Submit calendar events here.


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