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Jim Sheehan retires after four decades of coaching at Colonie

It's called the Sheehan Test, and it's one every football lineman and basketball player at Colonie Central High School has had to pass for the last 41 years.

Here's how it works. Coach Jim Sheehan grabs your hand, and you have to match his grip.

We had different levels 3, 4, 5, 6 all the way up to level 9," said Sheehan.

Even coaches had to pass the Sheehan Test.

"He shakes my hand for the first time (after coming to Colonie), and he breaks my hand in half," said varsity baseball coach Greg Lanni.

"When he shook your hand, he'd try to break your fingers," said varsity football coach Mike Ambrosio. "He'd say, 'Show me the power.'"

But as he was crushing someone's hand, Sheehan also sometimes passed along some vital information.

"As he had me in the grip, he said, 'Listen to this if you don't listen to anything else,'" said Greg Bearup, who succeeded Sheehan as Sand Creek Middle School's eighth-grade football coach. "'When you teach, don't let them see you smile till after Christmas. And when you coach, don't demand anything less of your athletes until they give you more than you thought they had."

Young athletes in the South Colonie School District won't have to pass the Sheehan Test anymore, though. Sheehan is retiring after more than four decades of service as a football and basketball coach, mostly at the modified, freshman and junior varsity levels.

"Because of my longevity, I thought it was time to watch the games from a different point of view," said Sheehan, who coached modified sports and served as a varsity assistant during his tenure. "There are some younger guys here who want to have a chance to coach, and I want them to have the chance."

Sheehan started his career in 1967 by starting the eighth-grade football program " first at Lisha Kill Middle School, and then at Sand Creek Middle School in 1968 when all eighth-grade students were moved closer to the high school campus.

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