Brooklyn Boro

For Brian Nigro, it’s all about balance

April 10, 2023 Andy Furman
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Having the right amount – not too much or too little.
You might admire the balance someone has achieved between working hard and having fun.

For Brian Nigro – working hard is fun.

“Having to balance my life and my schedules probably is my biggest task,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle the other day while recuperating from shoulder surgery.

If basketball were a drug well Brian Nigro would have Od’d years ago and he’d be in rehab.

Instead, the 45-year-old Brooklyn native has found time to coach the Saint Bernard sixth-grade boys Brooklyn-Queens Diocesan Champs in back to-back years.

Last year they went a perfect 15-0 and this year they had just one blemish in 19 ballgames.

And his head coaching prowess with his a sixth-grade youngsters comes between his head coaching position at Medgar Evers College and teaching full-time physical education at Brooklyn’s Magen David Yeshiva at 2130 McDonald Avenue.

“I try to coach as much as I can,” Nigro, a former Xaverian High basketballer said. “I coach AAU Basketball, CYO Baseball. I want to be at everything so I can see my kids play.”

Nigro’s son plays on that championship sixth-grade team.

Coaching is the easy part – balancing is tough.

“Medgar Evers will usually play on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday,” he said. “I’ll have a Medgar Evers practice either early or late Wednesday.

“Hey, I’ve only missed two CYO games in two years,” he said.

Medgar Evers, however is a challenge for Nigro who’s been at the Brooklyn school six years – but coached basketball for five.

“We lost a year from Covid,” he said.
Medgar Evers lacks a home court – they share their gymnasium with Medgar Evers Prep. “There’s no scholarships to offer City University Division III schools; and it’s hard to convince kids to stay home.”

Yet Nigro and his long-time assistants — Kelvin Bigelow an FDU Hall of Famer – and Todd Jamison – truck on.

“What we do is try to be creative and establish a relationship as well as trust,” Nigro said.
Brian Nigro has dedicated his life to coaching, teaching and helping young people not only improve and develop on the basketball court but more importantly becoming better students and people.

“I’m a big believer that prepping students for real-world responsibilities is just as vital and crucial as the lessons learned winning basketball games,” he said.
Nigro proudly says four of his Medgar Evers ballplayers will walk down the isle for graduation this spring.

Nigro received his first coaching position as an assistant at Globe Institute of Technology, a Division I junior college. Responsible for recruitment, he quickly developed an eye for raw talent and learned their tactics for shaping the futures of young athletes.
“We beat Saint Francis Desales, 32-30 at the buzzer for that sixth-grade title,” Nigro said. “It was Brian Nigro hitting a floater on the right baseline as time expired to win the game.”
Nigro remembered the game as if he were watching the replay as he spoke.

“Brendon Hayden from Saint Francis hits a three to tie the game at 30 with about 16 seconds left,” he said. “We dribble the ball to half-court and call a time-out to draw up a play, and the rest was history.”

Credit – not for Brian Nigro.

“We had a good group of kids who played together for a few years – and they were skilled,” he said. “And our assistant coaches, Ed Smith and Mark Petit certainly helped.”
Nigro said he played AAU ball with both Smith and Petit – the latter played for Hofstra under then coach Jay Wright.

Nigro earned his first head coaching position overseeing the boys’ basketball program at Berkeley Carroll.
He returned to his alma mater – Xaverian – three years later in 2005. From his stint with the Clippers, he served as head coach at The College of Mount Saint Vincent – the place where he played as an undergrad ranking seventh all-time for assists per-game and ninth overall for total assists in the NCAA.

For Brian Nigro – it’s not about coaching or even teaching the game of basketball.
It’s all about balance – and he’s seemed to have found it.

Andy Furman is a Fox Sports Radio national talk show host. Previously, he was scholastic sports columnist for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. He may be reached at: [email protected] Twitter: @AndyFurmanFSR

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