Bernice Nicolari developed the women's sports' program at Shelton High School, where she coached basketball for 17 years - - from 1962 to 1979. Her teams compiled a 214-53 win/loss record, won 7 consecutive Housatonic League titles, won the 1976 CIAC Class Double L Championship, posted three undefeated seasons, enjoyed winning steaks of 27 and 30 games, and placed players on the All-State, All-Housatonic League, and All-Valley first, second, and honorable mention teams. In 1976, Nicolari was named the Connecticut High School Coaches' Association Outstanding Women's Basketball Coach. In 1979, the New Haven Tap-Off Club selected Nicolari its Outstanding Women's High School Basketball Coach. In 1986 the CIAC Class Double L Most Valuable Player Trophy was named in her honor. In 1987, Nicolari was inducted into the New Haven Tap-Off Club's Hall of Fame. Nicolari served as a CIAC Committee Member, as chairperson of the Housatonic League Women Coaches' Basketball Committee, and as secretary of the Housatonic League Coaches for Girls' Sports' Committee. In 1984, Nicolari received the University of Chicago's Outstanding Teacher Award, and, in 1987, a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities for her study of women writers.
In 1992, Nicolari was inducted into the New Agenda Northeast Women's Hall of Fame and, in 2003 the New England Basketball Hall of Fame. Nicolari retired in 1998 after a 36 year teaching career at Shelton High School, having served as women's basketball coach, English teacher, yearbook advisor, majorette advisor, Advanced Placement Coordinator, and Advanced Placement Instructor. She is the author of two books and is currently working on her third.