The Mohawk Valley has lost a "lifelong friend" that left an indelible mark on thousands of lives.

Sports will never be the same at SUNY Polytechnic Institute following the passing of a legendary, longtime coach and athletic director.

Remembering Kevin Grimmer

Kevin Grimmer passed away Monday at age 64. The Sentinel reports the community figure was battling Lou Gehrig's disease, or ALS; which is a rare and deadly condition.

Courtesy Suny Polytechnic Institute Athletics
Courtesy Suny Polytechnic Institute Athletics

ALS gradually destroys a person's ability to perform basic movements and functions by attacking their nerve connections. Most people die within five years of diagnosis.

Grimmer had been recently diagnosed with the neurodegenerative condition.

Grimmer's career in sports started at Notre Dame High School in Utica, as a graduate of the class of 1977, where he was a star basketball player. He broke the record for career rebounds when serving as the team's center.

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He eventually went on to play for Hamilton College and was voted MVP in the 1979-1980 and 1980-1981 seasons. He was also the college's top scorer, earning 895 points in his final two years at the college, and was also a top rebounder with a score of 622.

Instead of taking his skills nationwide, Grimmer chose to stay in Central New York and help teach the next generation of athletes.

Kristine Bellino, WIBX
Kristine Bellino, WIBX

He was hired by SUNY Polytechnic Institute in 1984 as a part-time assistant basketball coach and intramural assistant, where he proceeded to work multiple jobs within the athletic department.

Grimmer was hired full time the following year and began coaching both the men's and women's basketball teams. He also helped oversee the university's golf team and women's volleyball.

Said SUNY Poly in a September press release:

One of Grimmer's most memorable seasons came in 2009-10 when he led the Wildcats to their second straight NEAC championship. The team achieved a program-best 26-5 record and reached the NCAA III men's basketball championship's Sweet 16 – a historic milestone for SUNY Poly. His achievements as a coach earned him multiple Coach of the Year honors.

Aside from coaching, Grimmer also served as the school's athletic director for over 15 years, after being appointed to the position in 2000. Prior to that he also served roughly 15 years as SUNY Poly's assistant athletic director.

Grimmer also assisted as intramural sports director and as sports information director.

Lasting Legacy

Although Grimmer retired in 2021, his impact on SUNY Poly was unmistakable. Thanks to his leadership, he helped the school switch from a 2-year, to a 4-year institution.

He also helped usher in the $20 million expansion of the campus' sports complex. The upgrade included a new field house for the Wildcats, in addition to a new turf and lighting, renovated softball field and a new baseball field.

Over the summer, SUNY Poly renamed the Campus Center Gym's basketball court after him. It is now called the Kevin Grimmer Court. During the ceremony, he was also inducted into the Wildcat Athletics Hall of Fame.

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The institution also launched the Kevin Grimmer Fund for Wildcat Athletics.

Other accolades include his 2004 induction into the Greater Utica Sports Hall of Fame. He was also honored by the Notre Dame High School hall of fame.

Courtesy Greater Utica Sports Hall of Fame
Courtesy Greater Utica Sports Hall of Fame

In 2012, he was also honored with the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Professional Excellence.

Those close to Grimmer shared their recollections of the impact he's had on the community.

Mike Durr, the longtime coach of Notre Dame Basketball, told the Sentinel:

He was probably the most important part of the SUNY athletic program for the last 30 years. He was a staunch supporter of the student-athletes there... His legacy around Utica is second-to-none. He was just a special person.

Durr also saluted Grimmer as "the most talented kid" and hailed his work ethic. It wasn’t that he was a super-talented kid," he said. "He just worked harder than everyone else.”

However, Durr said there is one thing that Grimmer should be remembered for most of all, which was his dedication to his family.

"I think his legacy is that he always put his family first. His wife and his kids and his grandkids were the world to him," he said.

Also reacting to the loss was SUNY Poly President Dr. Winston Soboyejo, who said in a press release:

Our hearts go out to the Grimmer family, and the thousands of student-athletes, coaches, colleagues and friends whose lives he touched. His legacy on this campus goes far beyond athletics and we are proud to honor him through the Kevin Grimmer Fund for Wildcat Athletics and The Kevin Grimmer Court at Campus Center. His presence and that of his family will live on at SUNY Poly for generations to come.

Grimmer is survived by his parents, loving wife,Sheila, and their three children. His eldest son, Nick, graduated from SUNY Poly in 2005 while his youngest child, Alex, graduated in 2012. Grimmer's daughter, Megan, graduated from Nazareth in 2008.

Those wishing to honor Grimmer can donate to the Kevin Grimmer Fund for Wildcat Athletics by clicking HERE.

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