When Newburyport High School athletic director Bob Clarke found his program without a cheerleading coach after Brendon Graffum exited last fall, he didn’t have to look very far for a new one. She spends most of her days cooking just down the hall.
“They didn’t have a coach,” said NHS nutrition instructor and first-year Clippers cheerleading coach Nadine Holohan. “They came to me about a week before the preseason started. But I felt bad for the kids and I love my students and I love it here. That’s the first thing that I thought about. I went home and talked to my husband. I figured, ‘How could I help them out?’ I met with Bob Clarke the next day and told him, ‘This is what I can give you.’”
What Holohan could give the school was a coach who operates at the collegiate level. The head cheerleading coach at Merrimack College since 2011, this Newburyport native and mother of two Clipper alumni cheered for Triton and was a three-time captain in her high school years. She then went on to coach cheerleading for the past 24 years, starting at Triton in 1989 then moving to North Andover High and Timberlane High before landing her position at Merrimack.
“She had done some stuff with the cheering squad in the spring,” said Clarke. “So we reached out to her and asked her if she knew anybody, and if she could help us in a pinch. She agreed to work with the team and keep the squad in place throughout the season, so it was kind of like us recognizing her and her talents, and her making a tremendous commitment to Newburyport High School and its cheering.”
“I have an extensive background, and I am a collegiate coach and I am a teacher,” said Holohan. “I think the combination is just perfect. It’s wonderful to be able to coach and to teach at the same place.”