When Chris Giles met a certain girl his freshman year at Seton Hill University, he was swiftly drawn to her for a myriad of reasons.

“I respected her game. That drew my attention first,” Giles said of meeting Jordan Burkes. “She was a pretty girl, intelligent, smart, kind, and she was good at basketball. The relationship started off as friends, and then after two years of a really good friendship, we started dating.”

Jordan Burkes is now Jordan Giles, as she and Chris got married in 2019, a dozen years after they first locked eyes while living on the same floor of a dormitory. Chris actually proposed to Jordan on a basketball court.

Chris said his favorite basketball movie is “He Got Game,” fitting because he and Jordan both certainly had a lot of that in their playing days — both are in Seton Hill’s Athletic Hall of Fame. But Jordan’s go-to hoops flick is even more appropriate. A song from the movie was even played during the couple’s first dance at their wedding.

For Chris and Jordan Giles, it’s all about “Love & Basketball.”

From college sweethearts and basketball stars to being married with two young kids, this talented tandem has been the perfect match. And when it comes to WPIAL basketball, the two share in something else — they are the only husband and wife who are both head coaches. Not only that, but the two 33-year-olds have led their respective teams to playoff berths.

Chris is in his third season coaching the Penn Hills boys, while Jordan is in her fifth season with the Seton LaSalle girls. Penn Hills, winner of 12 in a row, is 15-2 and on Friday clinched the outright Class 5A Section 2 title. Seton LaSalle, meanwhile, clinched a playoff berth in Class 3A Section 4 on Thursday. The Rebels are 12-7 and have won four of their past five games.

Chris Giles has guided Penn Hills to section titles in each of his three seasons. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

John Tate, founder and executive director of the Western PA Bruins AAU program, knows Chris and Jordan well. Serving as co-head coaches, the two have guided grade school teams for the Bruins for about eight years. Tate is a Penn Hills graduate who makes it to a lot of high school games, so he’s seen Chris on the sidelines quite regularly the past few seasons.

“I’ve known Chris since he was a young man, and I got to know Jordan through Chris. They’re just really good people and great coaches. It’s been a blessing for us to have them a part of our program,” said Tate, whose program has sent hundreds of players on to play college basketball.

The Gileses added a new member to their personal “program” on Jan. 5. That’s when Jordan had the couple’s second child, a baby boy named Paxxon. His sister, Jaxx, is 3. Jordan needed to be induced for Paxxon’s birth, so the couple picked a day when neither had a game. Jordan remained in the hospital for a few days, but that didn’t stop her from coaching. She still had a hand — and voice — in things as Carly Lutz, Jordan’s only assistant coach, assumed the head coaching duties for close to three weeks.

“I watched every game online. I was texting and calling at halftime, screaming at everyone,” Jordan said, laughing. “I would give her some messages to share with the team. She played a very big role. It’s a very difficult job, and she did it by herself.”

After missing close to three weeks following the birth of her second child, Seton LaSalle coach Jordan Giles is back on the sidelines. (Alexandra Wimley/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

This “couple” of coaches starred at their respective high schools. Chris attended West Mifflin and Jordan went to Montour. Each graduated in 2007. A few months later, the script to this basketball love story began to be penned. Seton Hill, located in Greensburg, had been an all-girls school until 2002, so the transition to the school becoming a coed campus was still in progress when the two arrived.

“We were just starting to get a lot of boys, so they made the main floor [of Brownlee Hall] boys and girls,” Jordan recalled. “He was the first room on the boys side, and I was the first room on the girls side. The first night we’re all there, he’s there sitting on my bed playing ‘Guitar Hero.’”

Wait, “Guitar Hero?”

“Yes,” Jordan said with a laugh. “He’s really good at it, too.”

The two quickly became friends and classmates — both majored in special education — but didn’t start dating for another two years. Their first date was at Yokoso at The Waterfront in Homestead.

As their relationship grew, so did their basketball skills. Chris, a 6-foot-4 guard, is Seton Hill’s all-time leading scorer with 1,864 points. He also holds school career records in assists, steals, field goals and free throws. Jordan, a 5-10 guard-forward, finished her career with 1,451 points, third most by a Seton Hill women’s player since the Griffins moved to the NCAA in 2005. Burkes is also third in rebounds. She also helped the Griffins reach the NCAA tournament for the first and only time her junior season. Coincidentally, both even wore the No. 3. Chris says it’s because his favorite all-time player is Allen Iverson (Jordan’s is LeBron James), and joked that his wife just wanted to copy him.

“Chris still holds a lot of records. If he’s not the best [player to play at Seton Hill], he’s one of the three best on the men’s side,” said Jason Greene, Seton Hill’s assistant athletic director for athletic communications. “And I’d say the same thing for Jordan. She’s third in points scored. She’d probably be in the top three [at Seton Hill], too.”

In the fall of 2018, Greene received a call from Chris Giles, who was planning to propose. Chris popped the question the day Jordan was inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame. He did it at midcourt of an empty Seton Hill gym earlier in the day.

“I made sure the gym was available and then just tried to stay out of the way,” Greene said.

Jordan’s parents were there, as well.

“My mom was like, ‘Why don’t you guys get a picture together?’” said Jordan. “I was kind of arguing with her, asking why we had to do that. And then [Chris] kneeled at midcourt.”


Chris Giles, left, proposed to his now wife, Jordan, on the basketball court at Seton Hill University in 2018. (Submitted)

It was a memorable 2019 for the couple. Jaxx was born June 15, and then mom and dad got married two months later. The ceremony took place on the deck of Jordan’s parents’ home in Coraopolis, the house in which the Giles family now resides. That fall, Chris joined Jordan as Seton Hill hall of famers. 

Jaxx may only be 3, but she’s already a gym rat. When she was 2 weeks old, she was in Indianapolis with her parents, who were coaching at an AAU tournament.

“I’ve always said that Jaxx has had a better time sleeping in the gym with balls and whistles than she does at home,” said Chris, who spent some time playing professionally in China and Costa Rica following his graduation from Seton Hill. Jordan considered playing in Lithuana but decided not to.

Parenting a toddler and baby is a gigantic undertaking in itself, but when you throw in the fact that both Gileses work full-time teaching jobs (Chris at Obama Academy, Jordan at Chartiers Valley High School) and are also high school basketball head coaches, life is pretty hectic for the family right now. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child, and the Giles family’s personal village includes Jordan’s parents, Carol and Wayne, and Chris’ mom, Arlene.

“We have the best support system there can be,” Jordan said. “They will drop everything to help us out.”

Still, living with a newborn has led to some sleepless nights.

“The guys the other day asked me if I was crying,” said Chris. “I said, ‘No, I only got three hours of sleep last night.’ They have no idea.”

The Giles family can typically be found in a gym with a basketball. (Submitted)

Both Chris and Jordan first cut their coaching teeth with the Bruins and at other schools. Chris was the head coach at Propel Andrew Street for three seasons before spending a season as an assistant at Woodland Hills. Jordan was an assistant at Montour for four seasons and Chartiers Valley for three seasons. Chris is 48-13 in three seasons at Penn Hills, while Seton LaSalle is 62-41 in Jordan’s five seasons. A season ago, Penn Hills reached the WPIAL and PIAA Class 5A quarterfinals while Seton LaSalle advanced to the WPIAL Class 2A semifinals. Penn Hills has now won a section title each season Chris has been the coach.

“They’re really good coaches,” Tate said. “Chris, his track record speaks for itself. Jordan moved herself up from an assistant and has made a name for herself. Both are really good from an X’s and O’s perspective but even better from a motivational perspective.”

That motivation includes fighting for WPIAL championships. Penn Hills is one of the favorites in Class 5A. The Indians feature standout guard Daemar Kelly, a Quinnipiac recruit and one of the district’s top players. Seton LaSalle is in fourth place in a strong section, but the Rebels shouldn’t be slept on. One of their wins was a 27-point triumph against Class 3A Shady Side Academy, which is 16-2. Seton LaSalle, which starts two freshmen, also has one of the WPIAL’s top players in junior guard Mallory Daly, who ranks among the area’s most potent scorers.

Somehow, both actually find time make it to many of the other’s games. Each is unquestionably the other’s biggest fan.

“I love it,” Jordan said. “He puts so much work and effort into trying to get them prepared. He does so much more than the basketball stuff than anyone realizes, but he’ll never admit it.”

At home, this hoops-crazed couple typically talk about, yes, you guessed it, basketball. There’s typically a game on TV in the background — unless, of course, Jaxx is watching “Paw Patrol” — and Chris and Jordan are probably engaging in some coach talk.

“You wouldn’t even understand,” Chris said. “After our games, we’re going to talk about the good and the bad and some of the adjustments that were made. It’s nice to be able to go home and talk about that.”

The two have a full-sized basketball court at their home, but it hasn’t gotten much use since last summer. That’s because Chris suffered a torn Achilles for the second time.

So, who won the last time the two played one another?

“I don’t know, probably me,” Chris said. “But I’m sure she’ll say she won. We’re ultra competitive.”

If it wasn’t for basketball, this love story likely would have never happened. But the fondness for shooting that orange ball led Chris and Jordan Giles to Seton Hill and eventually marriage. Now, two of the WPIAL’s top young coaches hope to lead their teams to long postseason runs.

“It’s really neat,” Greene said. “It’s been crazy watching them grow up playing basketball at Seton Hill and then start a family. It’s great to see them doing so well.”

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at beverett@unionprogress.com.

Brad Everett

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at beverett@unionprogress.com.