Christina Zuccaro, back row left, is resigning as the WHS Cheerleading coach

Christina Zuccaro, back row left, is resigning as the WHS Cheerleading coach, effective after the Thanksgiving Day game. Her replacement will be Kylie Bolarinho, back row far right. The two of them, along with Kelly McGowan (back row middle) coached last year’s Fall Cheerleading team which won the Middlesex League Championship title and finished second in the Division 3 state competition.

    (courtesy photo).

WILMINGTON – Five years ago, during the middle of the winter cheerleading season, the program was without a coach, and Christina Zuccaro, with her strong background in the sport, came to the rescue, knowing that she would have to juggle a lot of things with her family and own career.

After seven combined league titles between the fall and winter seasons, as well as finishing second in the state three straight years, Zuccaro knew that the juggling act would only last so long, therefore she has resigned effective at the completion of the Thanksgiving Day game next week.

Her assistant Kylie Bolarinho, who has been with the program over the last few years, has been named Zuccaro's replacement, taking over for both seasons.

“I have a new job, working full-time,” said Zuccaro. “I used to work in finance in Boston and I went back to that over the summer, so between work, my family and everything they do – my son does hockey, football and baseball – it was just too much. I'm constantly running in a different direction from everyone else.”

Interim Athletic Director Dennis Ingram said he has now seen a handful of his coaches resign recently, with almost all of them due to needing to spend more time at home.

“It's sad to see Christina go but it's also bittersweet. It's a little similar to when we were dealing with (former girls basketball coach) Jessica (Robinson),” said Ingram. “Christina has her family and some of the same things that she was telling me was some of the same that Jess had told me. When you are being pulled in many different directions, it's very hard.

“What some people don't realize is all of these coaches, this is their second job. Obviously these coaches are passionate about coaching, they care so much about the kids, but when you take a step back, it is their second job. They have another job that pays the bills, so when you have to put things in priority, sometimes unfortunately you get pulled in too many directions. She's doing what she has to do. We're going to miss Christina so much and we're very sad to see her go.”

Zuccaro led the 'Cats to league titles in 2018, '19, '20 and 21 during the indoor season and then '19, '21 and this current season. The 'Cats also finished second in the state three times during the fall season, in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

“These girls just work really hard. I don't think you'll ever see another team who works as hard as these girls do and who comes together like we do,” she said. “We fell short a little bit during our fall state championship meet (last year), but I can't say that they didn't deserve where they finished. We felt that we had one of the best teams around.”

Last year's team, Zuccaro says, talent wise, was the best she's had in the five years.

“Last year's class was amazing. I had a really good class and the 2020, 2021 and 2022 classes were just loaded with great kids and cheerleaders,” said Zuccaro. “(Current senior) Tiffanie (Smith) is the last of that (four-year stretch) so it was just four great years. We're just a big family. That's what is different and what most schools don't get – just how much these girls come together as a team.”

Through the eight combined seasons that she coached, Zuccaro said that she has nothing but fond memories.

“I loved it and this was a very hard decision to make. I just thought that it was time,” she said.

Bolarinho graduated in 2018 from Billerica Memorial High School. She came up through Billerica Pop Warner and did four years of cheerleading for the high school team.

“I have cheered my whole life,”said the 22-year-old. “I think cheerleading is a good sport to bring people together, plus I love football and love watching football. I like the competitive aspect of (cheerleading) too. I like competing for a title.”

During her high school days, she was part of the Billerica team that took second place in the states all four years she competed, and eight in a row. She added that Billerica and Wilmington is different and that's what first interested her in an assistant position and now the head coach position.

“I cheered in Billerica my entire life so coming to a different program and a different town with different people and everything is run different so I just like seeing how other towns run their programs as opposed to Billerica,” she said, while noting that her brother Jordan was a former WHS Football assistant coach and is now on the Lowell High staff.

Bolarinho will take over immediately the Monday after Thanksgiving when tryouts for the winter season begins.

“I'm excited and I've never had my own team before so I'm excited for that. I don't want to necessarily change this program, but I want to see where it can go,” she said. “I want to thank Deb Smith for introducing me to the Wilmington Cheerleading program and to Christina Zuccaro for teaching me everything I know.”

Ingram said Bolarinho has the background in the sport to keep the strong tradition of competitive cheerleading going here at WHS.

“Kylie has been Christina's assistant and we brought her in and interviewed her and a few other candidates (for the head coach's position),” he said. “She did extremely well.

“She's excited for the opportunity. She grew up in Billerica and has a strong background in cheering. She has come highly recommended throughout the cheering circuits. She's excited for this and I know the girls are too.”

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