Mohawk College women’s volleyball coach Andrew Nicholson is the A.J. Dunn Sports Person of the Year in Burlington. The Sports Alliance of Burlington made the presentation Tuesday (June 16) at its Annual Sports Award Banquet.
Nicholson began coaching volleyball while a student at Lord Elgin High School and continued to coach at various Halton secondary schools. He was a strong presence in the organizing committee of the Burlington International Games. In 1988, he turned to club volleyball, with the Waterdown Raiders Club. He then returned to his roots and brought volleyball home to Burlington.
In 1992 Nicholson founded the Burlington Blaze Volleyball Club, a member of the Ontario Volleyball Association. He ran the club for 20 years, developing top level athletes that have gone onto college and university play in Canada and the US. Today the club is coached by many of his former players and is run by good friend Matthew Schnarr, the men’s volleyball coach at Mohawk College.
Nicholson has acted as chief organizer, convenor, technical director and active coach during his tenure in youth sport. He is also an NCCP level 2 coach, a provincial official for 15 years and has run NCCP coaching clinics. He is also the play-by-play voice of volleyball, soccer and rugby on Cogeco television and has called games at the college, university, and high school levels. Nicholson also called the recent Four Nations Women’s Rugby tournament with the English, American, South African and Canadian National Teams involved.
He is currently entering his fifth season as head coach of Mohawk College women’s varsity volleyball team.
In accepting the award, Nicholson referred to how sport can truly connect you with your community. “It is not about the winning and losing,” he said. “It is about the ability to give back to a place that gave you so much as a young person. The main tenet of the Burlington Blaze was that we were not only developing young athletes – we were developing good citizens.”
Nicholson added the night was so special for him because some of the most important people in his life, from his high school phys ed teachers and some of the athletes he’d coached, were in the room.
“My co-founder of the Blaze, Irene Prime, was there and my good friend Matthew Schnarr was there to support me, too. But most of all, my Dad, who turns 87 next week, was there to see the award presented. He and my late Mom were the foundation from which I built my life. He was proud of his son and at the end of the day that made the night that more wonderful.”