Brookline Knights Football Association
Knights Coach and President Joe Nicholas

Coach Joe and his staff after
the 2011 SSYFL Super Bowl.
Coach Joe (center) and his staff celebrate after their 2011 SSYFL Super Bowl title.

Joe Nicholas began his coaching career with the Brookline Knights in 1993. Two years later he took over as President. Joe helped turn a struggling organization into a success story overnight. Since 1995, Brookline Knights teams have won a total of seventeen individual titles. The 14th championship, in 2011, was the 11-Under team, led by Coach Joe himself.

The 2011 title was the fifth for Joe as a coach. Teaming with his brother Brian, their 13-Under teams won titles in four out of five seasons from 1996 to 2000. But winning titles and getting the most from his players is but one of Joe Nicholas' many fine qualities.

Brian Nicholas, Joe Nicholas
and Earl Taylor in 2000.
Coaches Brian Nicholas, Joe Nicholas and Earl Taylor
with the 2000 WPSYFL championship trophy.

As a full-time Pittsburgh Police Officer, Joe employs a no-nonsense approach in his dual role as President and Coach. At first glance you might step back an inch. When you hear him bellow you'll jump back a foot. But this tough exterior belies a gentle, kind-hearted individual who has given twenty-one years of his time to teaching the children of Brookline the fundamentals of prep league football.

Lisa and Joe Nicholas

Through the hard work and dedication of Joe, his wife Lisa, the Nicholas family and a faithful group of volunteers, the Brookline Knights Football Association has risen to new heights, earning itself respect as one of the best youth programs in the City of Pittsburgh.

Jaedyn and Coach Joe - 2009

It has been my pleasure to have known and worked with Joe now for many years. He is a good friend and mentor, someone to look up to. He is a role model for the generations of kids who have passed through the Knights program.

The City of Pittsburgh and the Community of Brookline are a better place because of the efforts and dedication of men like Joe Nicholas, and the Nicholas clan (Joe, Lisa, Brian, Kim, Nicole, Jamie, Gina, Joey and Jaedyn) truly are the First Family of Brookline football.

Coach Joe and the Brookline Knight - 2000    Coach Joe - 2011
Coach and President Joe Nicholas and the Brookline Knight, 2000; Coach Joe in the Fall of 2011.

* Photos provided by Barbara Giegucz, Carol Taylor and Bob Hayes *

A Man Who Wears Many Hats

In addition to his duties as coach and acting president of the Brookline Knights football organization, Joe Nicholas was also very busy during the offseason, coaching with the Brookline Little League Association.

Joe spent several years with the softball program, assisting Angelo Masullo Jr with his C.E.C. team in the Little League, then managing Speedy Printing and M.J. Automotive in the Senior League.

2000 Speedy Printing Senior League Team
The 2000 Speedy Printing Senior League softball team with Joe, Nicole and Jamie.

In true Nicholas tradition, daughter Gina's C.E.C. team brought home a title in 2001, then she combined with sister Jamie to bring home the final Senior League championship in 2003.

2001 Civil and Environmental
 Consultants Little League Softball Team
The 2001 C.E.C. Little League softball champions, with Joe and Gina Nicholas.

Once the girls had moved on, Joe moved over to the baseball diamond to help with his son Joey, managing Conditioned Air in Minor League and then Medicine Shoppe in Little League. Coach Joe's baseball/softball managerial career ended in 2008.

Picture of
 2008 Medicine Shoppe Little League Team
The 2008 Medicine Shoppe Little League team with Joe and Joey Nicholas.

Like Father, Like Son

Joey Nicholas was born in 1996. He grew up as a child of the Knights, and when it was time to strap on the equipment and take the field, he became a player. In his seventh and final season, Joey's 13-Under team captured an SSYFL championship, the first of his career.

After his playing days as a Knight came to an end, Joey joined his father on the sideline and, as an assistant coach and defensive coordinator, helping to lead his father's 2011 11-Under team to a league championship. How's that for a chip off the old block!

Joe and his son Joey - 2005    Coach Joe and his son Coach Joey - 2011
Coach Joe Nicholas and Joey as a player in 2005; Coach Joe and Coach Joey in 2011.

Coach Joe Nicholas Honored By The City Of Pittsburgh
For His 21 Years With The Brookline Knights

On September 7, 2013, Coach Joe Nicholas was honored by the City of Pittsburgh with a proclamation from Mayor Luke Ravenstahl for his twenty-one years of dedication and service to the Brookline Knights youth football program. The proclamation was presented by the Mayor's aide at halftime of Joe's 9-Under game.


In what could be his final season as Coach and President of the Knights organization, Joe was joined by his family at halftime, all of whom have played a vital role in the ongoing success of the program.

After the presentation, it was back to business as usual. Joe and his nine-year old Knights went on to beat the West Mifflin Titans, 20-12. It was a fitting conclusion to Coach Joe's special day.

Coach Joe Nicholas has walked this sideline for the past twenty-one years.

2013 Jefferson Awards Recipients

On March 2, 2014, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette announced that Brookline’s Nicholas family were one of the local winners of the 2013 Jefferson Awards, known as “The Nobel Prize of Volunteerism.” The Nicholas’ have run the Brookline Knights youth football program for the past nineteen years, since 1995. They first became involved with the program two years earlier, in 1993. The award winners include Joe and Lisa Nicholas, and their children Nicole, Jamie, Gina and Joey.

Over the past two decades, Joe and Lisa have built the Brookline Knights into one of Southwest Pennsylvania’s best youth football programs. The children have grown up within the program, first participating as players and cheerleaders, and later as officers and coaches.

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

Brookline Knights football teams have captured seventeen league titles and several runners-up during Joe Nicholas’ tenure as President of the organization. Many of these teams were coached by Joe himself. Behind it all are Lisa and the kids, who have worked tirelessly for so many years to keep the program running at peak performance.

The Jefferson Award was created in 1972 by Jacqueline Onassis, Senator Robert Taft and Sam Beard to honor the unsung heroes of our country. The program is named after founding father Thomas Jefferson, a man who reflected the spirit of excellence in America.

In 1976, former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editor John Craig established a local program honoring Western Pennsylvania's "Community Champions" -- everyday citizens who encountered problems in their neighborhood and created solutions to fix them.

The Nicholas family and other local award winners will be honored later this year at an elegant dinner reception, where they will be presented with the bronze Jefferson Awards medallion. They now qualify the region’s Most Outstanding Volunteer title, the winner of which will attend the national awards ceremony in Washington D.C.

Joe, a full-time Pittsburgh Police officer, and the rest of the Nicholas family have done so much for the community of Brookline over the last two decades. Their spirit of dedication and selfless devotion to the Knights program have enriched the lives of thousands of our neighborhood youth and are one of the many reasons that Brookline is such a special place.

Congratulations to Joe, Lisa, Nicole, Jamie, Gina and Joey on this well-deserved honor.

* Reprinted from The Post-Gazette - March 2, 2014, and the Brookline newsletter - April 2014 *

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