Norwin’s Fleming brothers step into stripes shortly after graduation

Saturday, February 4, 2023 | 11:01 AM

It was only last year when Michael Fleming was firing in 3-pointers for Norwin, and two years ago when Nick Fleming was contributing key points and rebounds for the Knights.

Now, the brothers are calling fouls and wearing stripes.

Like their father, who has officiated basketball, football and other sports at the college and high schools levels for decades, the Flemings are PIAA officials, Nick in his second year and Michael in his first.

They have worked a few junior varsity boys and girls games this year as a tandem.

“It makes me so happy to see them both doing this,” said Brian Fleming, their father. “I never would have come to watch a JV game. Now, I won’t miss them if they’re reffing.”

Brian Fleming does the scheduling for the Big 5/6 chapter of officials, so he can assign games to his sons.

“(Athletic director) Mike (Burrell) has been great about letting them work games here at Norwin,” Brian Fleming said. “He’s an official, so he understands how important it is for them to do games.”

Nick Fleming, a baseball player at Mount St. Mary’s, worked games when he was home for the holiday break. A three-sport athlete at Norwin, he used to help his father at Pitt 7-on-7 football camps when Walt Harris and then Dave Wannstedt were coaching.

“The reason I got into officiating was being around it from a young age,” Nick Fleming said. “When I was around 5 or 6 years old, I would go to many of my dad’s games and see the process that goes into it.”

When he was around 10, Nick went with his dad to ACC football games.

“I learned many things watching him and his crew prepare for games,” Nick said. “I knew I wanted to get into officiating at some point, and once I graduated high school, I felt like it was a good time to get started and learn.”

Nick earned his football patch while he was still in high school but had to wait until he graduated to work games.

Now, he does basketball and football.

“Nick followed in my footsteps more than Mike,” said Brian Fleming, a 1982 Norwin alum.

Michael Fleming, nicknamed “Waldo” since he was in youth sports, went to Saint Vincent to continue his basketball career but decided not to play.

“I got into officiating to stay around the game,” he said. “After I stopped playing, I wanted some way to be involved around the game and give back to the game that’s been so great for me. Officiating has been a part of my family for a long time.”

Michael is working JV and junior high games in his rookie year but hopes to bump up to varsity next year.

“I see the game from a different perspective now, which is very nice,” he said.

Staying around two sports he doesn’t play any longer is a point of pride for Nick.

“I get to enjoy the various atmospheres I got to experience when I played in high school,” said Nick, who has done junior high, freshmen, JV and varsity games. “It was definitely cool to officiate with my brother. I was surprised he even wanted to officiate in the first place. We’ve gotten the opportunity to ref together multiple times this season, and it’s pretty cool and something that you don’t get to see every day.”

Brian Fleming mentioned the rarity of brother combos, but said the most notable in the area are the Steratore brothers, Gene and Tony.

“Their old man got me started,” Brian said.

Brian Fleming has worked games in the ACC and Big South conferences and in arena league football. He said there is more to wearing stripes than blowing a whistle and making hand signals.

“You have to work at it,” he said. “You need grass time. I used to work college practices. Anything to make you better. And you have to have thick skin. You can’t be weak out there.”

Brian Fleming, who began officiating high school football in the early 1990s and college about nine years later, also worked games with Penn Township’s Brian Sakowski, who officiated this year’s college football national championship in Inglewood, Calif., and NFL official Mark Pellis, another Norwin grad.

“I’m retired now,” Brian said. “I’m old and fat. I’ll still do some softball games. It’s time for these guys to take over.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .


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