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Stoneham mourns the loss of coach Jimmy Carino to COVID-19

Stoneham High School coach Jimmy Carino, pictured here in fall 2019, with Brenna Pignone, a current senior and player on the girl's soccer team.Courtesy of Stoneham Public Schools

Funeral services were held Monday for James A. Carino, a beloved coach affectionately referred to as Mr. Stoneham High School.

Carino dedicated three decades to his alma mater. Carino didn’t limit his school spirit to soccer fields and tennis courts. He oversaw most major school events, from awards ceremonies, assemblies and banquets to homecoming, prom, and graduation. He also shepherded every year the biggest highlight of the academic calendar, the Carnival Ball, a 100-year tradition at the school.

Whether it was athletics, art, or activities, “Jimmy was all three,” superintendent of schools John Macero said Monday. “He was best described as Mr. Stoneham High School.”

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Carino died Feb. 8 of complications from COVID-19. He was 62.

After his 1976 graduation from Stoneham high, Carino returned as a volunteer, and within four years he began coaching. As boy’s soccer coach, Carino led the team to state championships in 2002, 2004, and 2005. He later took on the role of senior adviser. Carino retired in 2013 but continued to coach tennis at the school.

Stoneham school administrators and faculty knew Carino had been ill and in the hospital, but news of his death last Tuesday cut deep. “We did not expect this at all,” Macero said.

Online condolences overflowed with superlatives and praise for Carino. He was a Stoneham high legend, had a major impact on many lives, and was “simply, the best,” wrote students, current and former, colleagues, neighbors, and friends.

“I’ve known Jimmy forever,” former student Angela Sciola Anderson, 36, said Monday.

Carino attended Stoneham high with Anderson’s mother in the ‘70s, later coached Anderson on the tennis team, and for years regularly took afternoon walks through the Anderson’s Colonial Park neighborhood.

“Jimmy was a fixture in Stoneham and his personality was larger than life,” Anderson said. “His spirit lives on in the hundreds of lives he touched.”

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Carino, a father of three, created family everywhere he went, Anderson said, at home, at school, and in the community. His manner was jovial, extremely friendly and nice, she said.

As a coach, “he’d hold you to it,” Anderson said. “He’d give you the tough love when you needed it, but he was always there for you.”

Macero said Carino had a special way when it came to teenagers. He was a stellar listener; he was all about building relationships and creating celebrations, he was honest, caring, and “frank, in a very positive way,” Macero said.

At a somber and emotional gathering on Sunday at Stoneham high, the line of mourners who wanted to share tributes to and memories of Carino snaked through the hallways and outside the building.

“There was shock, there was disbelief, but also the joy of having been a part of knowing him,” Macero said.

Carino was born in Medford, spent his early childhood in Somerville, and moved to Stoneham when he was nine. After high school, Carino graduated from Northeastern University, where he studied political science.

In 1989, Carino married ”the love of his life,” Kathy Gehring. Their first child, Ryan James, was born four years later; twins, William Francis and Julia Mary, followed in 2000.

The private funeral Mass was held at St. Patrick’s Church in Stoneham. A celebration of Carino’s life will be held in the spring or summer, relatives said.


Tonya Alanez can be reached at tonya.alanez@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @talanez.