Nicola, who had served as varsity assistant coach at the Louisiana prep powerhouse during the 2018-19 season, was selected to replace Rob Dauterive who had announced his retirement last month.
A graduate of Indiana University and native of Fort Wayne, Ind., Nicola takes the helm of one of the most successful high school mat programs in Louisiana. Brother Martin can claim 19 state team titles — including seven in the past eight years — along with 117 individual state champions since 1972, including six crowned just two weeks ago.
“I have been fortunate to know of the rich tradition that Brother Martin wrestling has had for many years now,” Nicola said in a release from the school. “Words cannot describe how excited I am to carry on this tradition of excellence that encompasses so much more than just winning wrestling matches.
“Our staff is already diligently working together to take this program to a level it’s never seen before, which is no easy feat.”
Nicola launched his coaching career at the prep level in Indiana — at Bloomington South High, and Culver Academies — then progressed to the collegiate level, serving as an assistant at Cumberland University in Tennessee, University of Central Missouri, and at California Baptist University. His most recent assignment prior to joining the staff at Brother Martin was as head coach at Concordia University in Nebraska for two seasons. Among Nicola’s coaching honors: named Great Plains Athletic Conference Coach of the Year and the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) North Region Coach of the Year in 2017 … and Indiana State Wrestling Association (ISAW) Coach of the Year in 2012.
Over the years, Nicola has coached a number of top scholar-athletes, including seven NCAA National Qualifiers, and 16 NCAA Academic All-Americans. In addition, Nicola has coached 33 NAIA National Qualifiers and ten who have earned All-American honors.
So how did a Hoosier who had coached from Tennessee to California land the head coaching position at one of the top high school wrestling programs in the South?
Nicola had conducted wrestling camps in Louisiana for a number of years. But here’s what he told Nathan Brown, wrestling writer for The Advocate of New Orleans:
“He (Brother Martin head coach Rob Dauterive) asked several years ago ‘When are you coming down here?’ And I think he was serious then, but maybe joking too,” Nicola said. “But when I lost my job in Nebraska (at Concordia). … I came here for my camp in July, and coach said ‘I’m ready to retire. Are you ready to come take over?’
“I’ve only been here about six months, but finally the discussions he and I had are coming to fruition.”
Nicola’s first season as head coach at Brother Martin will begin this fall.
Established in 1869, Brother Martin High School is a private, all-male Catholic school located within the city of New Orleans. Brother Martin has approximately 1,200 students in grades 8-12.