The history of the ESYA, as told by one of the founders, Frank Nicoletti …….
The East Stroudsburg Youth Association was founded in 1973 by Frank Nicoletti and the late Walter Knowles. ESYA started as a “Midget” football program.
In 1973, Walter Knowles moved into the area and started hanging around the barber shop (Frank Nicoletti’s barber shop). ” He asked me,” Frank recalls, ” Do you have something for children in the area?” Knowles said that he had been involved in a midget football program in New Jersey. “Frank,” he said, “you know a lot of people up here, let’s start a midget football program,” Nicoletti recalls. We talked about six months and he kept asking, “When are you going to do this?” Finally, he said, “I’m going down to Lim’s (Sport Shop) and order all the equipment right now.” We didn’t even have an organization. “He got three or four guys together and I got three or four guys together and our first meeting was at Jake’s Place. We got help with the fields from Walter Stem and the East Stroudsburg School Board and we had a football program,” Nicoletti remembers.
That was the start of East Stroudsburg Youth Association. After storing equipment in a garage behind the barber shop and then upstairs a the Day Street Police Station, it was recognized that the ESYA needed a storage building. “The borough gave us a piece of land and we planned a 14×16 or 16×16 foot building. We went around and got donations and with all the money coming in, the building grew into a 40×40 clubhouse. We raised $25,000 and it cost $24,600 with free labor and help from contractors and businesses so we had $400 to put in the ESYA treasury with everything completely paid for,” Nicoletti said. The building and the entire ESYA program is the result of the combined efforts from the East Stroudsburg School Board, local government, the borough council and business people from the community, says Nicoletti.
The latest ESYA project was the completion of a 22-acre outdoor athletic complex on River Road in Minisink Hills, including multi-purposefields for the many ESYA activities. The facility was named and dedicated as the Frank Nicoletti Fields.
Although he has earned numerous awards, including the Pocono Mountains Chamber of Commerce Humanitarian of the Year and the Exchange Club of the Pocono Mountains Book of Golden Deeds Award, Nicoletti repeatedly emphasizes the contributions of other people in the development of the ESYA. He peppers his conversations with names of volunteers, benefactors, coaches, corporate and community volunteers and friends who have helped the organization since 1973.
Through the eyes of Mr. Frank Nicoletti, youth organized sports motivates children to become involved in new experiences and provides them with the tools they need to survive.
In conclusion, without Frank Nicolotti and the late Walter Knowles, the East Stroudsburg Youth Association may have never been started. The success of this program is remarkable considering it was started from barber shop conversation and is now one of the largest youth organizations in the state.
**The above article has references & excerpts from interviews by the following people on Frank Nicoletti**
1. East Stroudsburg University’s, “The SID Corner: Frank Nicoletti and the ESYA”
2. “Through the Eyes of Frank Nicoletti: The History of The East Stroudsburg Youth Association” written by: Michael Jackson, Historical Concepts of Movement and Sport, Section T184, Dr. John C. Pooley May 7, 1999
3. ESYA Football, “The Tradition Continues” brochure, by former ESYA football program director, Michael Carmella