Brookline Knights Football Association

Brookline Knights

Brookline Bears  
Past Presidents  
Seasons in Review  
Coach Joe Nicholas  
Tradition & Excellence  
Team Photo Gallery  
Before the Knights  
Hall of Champions  
End of an Era  
Thank You  

October 18, 2008 - Knights game at
McGibbeny Field in Brookline Park
Brookline Knights history website designed and maintained by Clint Burton. Thanks to everyone else who helps out!

Brookline Connection

Knights News * Seasons In Review

2014 <> 2013 <> 2012 <> 2011 <> 2010 <> 2009 <> 2008
2007 <> 2006 <> 2005 <> 2000 <> 1998
including Rosters, Photos, Game Results and more.

Tradition and Excellence

The Brookline Knights Football program nurtured a long-standing tradition of gridiron excellence. That legacy dated back to their inception in 1974, a year when another Pittsburgh football team, the Steelers, began their initial reign as Super Bowl champions. Although the Knights may not have been as well known as the men in Black and Gold, these Brookline kids rose to the top of the local youth football scene time and time again over their forty-six year run.

The 2000 Brookline Knights Midget
team celebrates after a semi-final
victory. These Knights went on to
capture the WPSYFL championship.
The 13-Under Midget team celebrates after a playoff win in 2000. These Knights went on to win the WPSYFL title.

Brookline Knights teams claimed twenty-one league championships!

In eight years of SSYFL football (2006-2013), the 2006 9-Under, 2007 10-Under, 2009 13-Under, 2010 13-Under, 2011 11-Under, 2012 10-Under, 2013 11-Under and 2013 13-Under teams combined to bring home a total of eight Super Bowl championships. The 2006 8-Under team added a Conference championship, finishing as Super Bowl runner-up. Brookline's 2012 9-Under team also felt the thrill of Super Bowl competition.

1979 Termites - Brookline's
First Undefeated Champions.
The Brookline Knights 1979 WPMFL Termite champions went 9-0. They were Brookline's first undefeated team.

Prior to joining the SSYFL, from 1974 to 2005, Brookline's list of past champions included: Midgets (2000, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1990), Mitey-Mites (1998, 1978), Termites (1996, 1990, 1979) and Twerps (2004, 2001, 1980). Along with these distinguished title holders, the Knights fielded several teams that finished runner-up in league championship games.

2007 Super Bowl Champions
The 10-year old Brookline Knights repeated as Super Bowl champions in 2007. These Mighty Knights
returned to win the title again in 2009 and 2010, making them four-time SSYFL champions.

"Let's Go, Knights!"

In addition to the girdiron warriors, there were also the generations of talented cheerleaders. Year after year, these energetic ladies kept the fans engaged with an assortment of sideline cheers, zany antics and fabulous halftime routines. Their spirit and dedication added color and charm to the Brookline Knights gameday festivities.

The 2009 13U Knights Cheerleaders.

Coach Joe And Lisa Nicholas

After nineteen seasons, beginning in 1995, as the President and First Lady of Brookline football, Coach Joe and his wife Lisa retired from active participation with the Knights. Under their steady leadership, the program has become one of the best in the City of Pittsburgh. Following the 2013 season, Joe and Lisa passed the mantel of President and First Lady on to Steve Mescan and his partner Tamara Lefcowitz.

This did not mean that the two most familiar faces in Brookline football took a permanent leave of absence. Coach Joe continued in his 22nd year on the sideline, leading the 11-Under team to a Super Bowl berth. He also took a behind the scenes role as Past-President. Lisa, too, worked in the shadows providing the guidance that came from two decades of dedicated service. After that first year helping with the transition, Joe and Lisa moved on, confident in the knowledge that the program was in capable hands.

Brookline Knights Football
Coaches Joe and Joey Nicholas led the 11-Under team to a 2014 Super Bowl berth. As a coach, Joe led his teams
to five league championships. During his term as president, the Knights earned sixteen team titles.

A Family Affair

The Brookline Knights would like to acknowledge the entire Nicholas family for their many years of tireless dedication and devotion to Brookline Knights football. This includes Joe's brothers, Brian and Rick, and their respective families.

Also involved as both players and cheerleaders, then club officers and coaches, were the Nicholas children, Nicole, Jamie, Gina and Joey. Nicole continued as cheerleader coach until the completion of the 2017 season. These kids grew up as Brookline Knights, and as adults worked hard to carry on their proud Knights tradition. The entire Nicholas clan will forever be recognized as the First Family of Brookline Knights football.

Joe, Nicole, Gina, Jamie,
Joey and Lisa Nicholas - February 2014.
Joe, Nicole, Gina, Jamie, Joey and Lisa Nicholas in February 2014.

In honor of their two-plus decades of service to the Brookline community, the Nicholas' were selected as local recipients of the 2013 Jefferson Award, considered to be the Nobel Prize for Voluteerism. It was well-deserved recognition for a family that has done so much for the neighborhood they call home.

Many Years Of Dedicated Volunteers

A kindred spirit always ran strong in the Knight's organization. Generous assistance from decades of community-minded volunteers, along with a long list of talented coaches, rounded out the Knight's family. For those who slogged through the mud on Saturday mornings and ran the hillside in the early evening hours, or worked for hours in the hot concession stand, this motto rings true: Once a Knight, always a Knight.

For forty-six years, from 1974 to 2019, the Brookline Knights Football Association was one of the things that helped to make the community of Brookline a such a special place.

Brookline Knights Football

In the Beginning - The Brookline Bears

Brookline Bears Helmet Logo - 1974

The Brookline Knights Football Association has its roots in the Brookline Bears Football Association, started in 1974 by John Dowling and Jim Raimondi. After the first season, the team changed it's name from Bears to Knights.

Others who figured prominently in the birth of the Brookline football program were Chuck Senft, Bud Cambest, Jim McGrath, John Boris, Tony Ravoli, Sam Achille, Mike Betrose, Ted Gielas and Don Tarr. These founding fathers helped establish the solid foundation from which Brookline Knights football has grown over the years.

Brookline Knights Helmet Logo - late 1970s

From the first Bears team in 1974 to Knights of the new millenium, the organization earned a strong reputation for turning out top quality players, ready for the rigors of High School football. The 1996 Knights took that a few steps further, boasting two future NFL players, Bruce Gradkowski and Ray Ventrone.

Other former players to achieve NFL status are two-time collegiate football National Champion Don Graham of the 1977 Knights, and Ross Ventrone of the 1998 Knights.

Linebacker Don Graham had a three-year career (1987-1989) with Tampa Bay, Buffalo and Washington. Defensive Back Ross Ventrone played for six years (2010-2015) with New England and Pittsburgh, and was a member of the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. His older brother, Defensive Back Ray Ventrone enjoyed an ten-year career (2005-2014) with New England, New York (Jets), Cleveland and San Francisco, and was a member of the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. The longest tenured NFL Knight was Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, whose eleven-year (2006-2016) career was spent in Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Cleveland, Oakland, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.

Don Graham (NFL 1987-1989).
Member 1982 and 1986 Penn State
National Championship teams.
Don Graham
Ray Ventrone (NFL 2005-present)
Ray Ventrone
Bruce Gradkowski (NFL 2006-present)
Bruce Gradkowski
Ross Ventrone (NFL 2010-present)
Ross Ventrone

  The Ventrone Brothers - Knights in the NFL  

Brookline Knights Helmet Logo

Danny McGibbeny Field

All Knights home games are played at McGibbeny Field in Brookline Memorial Park, located along the 1400 block of Brookline Boulevard. Back in the 1970s, the Knights games were held at Moore Park, located on Pioneer Avenue.

The Knights home field is named for a Brookline man, Danny McGibbeny, who spent several years working with the neighborhood kids before passing, in 1977, at the age of twenty-six.

The Brookline Park complex was founded in 1947, when the land was purchased from the Anderson family. Take a look back through the decades to see how Brookline Park has evolved from a twenty acre farm into the multi-purpose park in use today. Let the "Brookline Park Renaissance" be your guide.

The 1977 Termite team gather for a photo
 following their final game of the season.
The 1977 Brookline Knights Termite team gathers for a photo after the final game of the season.

1976 Brookline Knights Program Cover.    1978 Brookline Knights Program Cover.

1979 Brookline Knights Program Cover.    1980 Brookline Knights Program Cover.

1981 Brookline Knights Program Cover.    1982 Brookline Knights Program Cover.

Brookline Football

Before the Knights

Youth football in Brookline has its origins long before the Knights program was introduced. Dating back to the 1930s, Brookline fielded a sandlot team called the Brookline Merchants, who played in the city leagues. American Legion Post #540 sponsored a sandlot team for many years, dating back to the 1940s. City High Schools fielded teams as far back as the 1920s. Even local elementary schools, like Resurrection, St. Pius and Brookline, had varsity teams from the 1940s through the 1980s.

The 1969 Brookline Royals
The Brookline Royals were the premier team in the Pittsburgh Metropolitan League from 1967 to 1971.

Two local sandlot teams whose heyday was the late-1960s were the "West" Brookline Royals and the "East" Brookline Quaills. It was an intra-neighborhood rivalry that still evokes emotions from those who slugged and slogged it out in the mud at Moore Park. These games were classic Brookline bone-crunching gridiron brawls.

1964 Golden Cue 12-13 yr old team.
The Bellaire Place 13-Under football team from 1964, sponsored by "The Golden Cue" bar and grill.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Brookline also sported teams that were organized by the kids themselves. Coaches were recruited and sponsors helped with equipment costs and referees. These were neighborhood teams, like the Lynnbrook Lions, Jacob Jets, Bellaire's Golden Cue and the Milan Eagles of 1963/1964. They formed their own league. These match-ups only lasted a year or two until the players moved on to sandlot ball. The memories have lasted a lifetime.

Brookline Backyard Football - 1958

Brookline Backyard Football - 1958    Brookline Backyard Football - 1958
Backyard brawls between neighborhood teams and friends were commonplace in 1958, as were team practices.

Some pictures of youth teams from the Brookline area:

1930 - South Hills High School Varsity
1932 - The Brookline Merchants
1940 - The Brookline Merchants
1947 - American Legion Post #540 Sandlot Team
1951 - Resurrection Elementary Varsity
1952 - Resurrection Elementary Varsity
1953 - Resurrection Elementary Varsity
1954 - Resurrection Elementary Varsity
1954 - South Hills High School Varsity
1960 - Brookline Royals Sandlot Team

1961 - Pittsburgh Newells Sandlot Team
1964 - "The Golden Cue" 12-13 year olds
1964 - Brookline Junior Royals
1965 - South Hills Catholic High School Freshman Team
1968 - Brookline Quaills Sandlot Team
1966/1971 - Brookline Royals Sandlot Team
1975 - St. Pius X Elementary Varsity
1976 - South Hills High School Varsity
1978 - St. Pius X Elementary Varsity
1982 - St. Pius X Elementary Varsity
1984 - St. Pius X Elementary Varsity

St Pius X Saints Football team - 1974/1975
The 1974/1975 St. Pius X Saints Diocesan Varsity football team.

Templar Knights, in their distinctive
white mantles with red cross, were
among the most skilled fighting
formations in history. The heavily
armored knights on their warhorses
were feared and respected warriors.

If anyone has information on the Brookline Knights or other neighborhood teams from
the pre-Knights era, please contact us on the
Brookline Connection Guestbook or
send us a message or post on the
Brookline Connection Facebook Page.
We'd be glad to include this information here on our website.

Classic Peanuts

End of an Era

Rusting blocking sleds - Spring 2022
The COVID pandemic forced the closure of the program in 2020 and 2021. When the
2022 season rolled around, there was no effort made to restart the program.
After forty-six years, Brookline's Knights had fought their final battle.

It was the End of an Era, and what a grand era it was.

The End

Oh yeah, all right
Are you going to be in my dreams

And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make

Dedicated coaches will do just about anything to keep the
game balls warm and dry. Thanks Jerry and Joe for
your many years of service to the Knights ...
and for the grandest of grand finales.

<Brookline History>