PLAYA DEL REY — When Marty Verdugo retired from teaching and coaching this year it wasn’t to take it easy.

The former Santa Monica High School girls’ basketball coach decided to give up the life of chasing championships and do something a little different.

He’s still deeply immersed in basketball, but this time on a different level.

The past few months have been a whirlwind for Verdugo as he has assembled the players for his new team, the Hoops Transformation Center.

Geared toward middle and high school girls, the center is Verdugo’s way of expanding his role as a teacher. There will be drills and scrimmages led by some of Southern California’s premiere coaches, but Verdugo also wants to use his camp to inspire young women both off and on the court.

“It’s empowering youth through basketball,” Verdugo said. “I want to give students skills to be successful in their lives.”

Verdugo’s credentials speak for themselves.

He guided Samohi to the 2009-10 CIF-Southern Section Division 1A Championship with a team that spawned four NCAA Division 1 recruits during his six-year stint as coach. It was the first title in the sport in school history. He was named state coach of the year by CaliHi Sports.

But, accolades aside, what keeps Verdugo in the basketball world is his desire to teach.

That’s how he created the idea that would become the center.

His first step was to identify which coaches he would ask to be a part of his new venture.

At the top of his list was Mater Dei Head Coach Kevin Kiernan. Having squared off with Mater Dei during his time at Samohi, Verdugo knew this was the guy he wanted to teach offense at his camp.

Kiernan obliged, as did four other high school coaches including Brentwood’s Charles Solomon and Redondo’s Marcelo Enriquez.

Once the main coaches were set, Verdugo went about trying to woo some of his former Samohi players and colleagues to be a part of the camp.

He wanted his former players to come on board to help teach the girls the Verdugo brand of basketball. He figured who would be better to spread his message than his former students.

A whole raft of former players jumped at the opportunity. Verdugo found that finding collaborators wasn’t as difficult as he feared it would be.

In addition to his former players, Verdugo looked to Samohi staffers for another layer of familiarity.

His former assistant coach JB Battung was his first recruit. Verdugo then looked to Kermit Cannon, the school’s strength and conditioning coach to give the girls a strong fitness base.

Cannon said that helping Verdugo was an easy choice to make.

“I’m pretty much the only strength and conditioning person he knows,” Cannon joked. “But seriously, I hope to bring my whole personality, energy and excitement to the camp to introduce the girls to new techniques to get stronger in their sport.”

With his team in place, Verdugo is ready to kick off the inaugural camp beginning July 23 at St. Bernard High School in Playa del Rey.

“I want them to be better players, but more importantly, I want them to be better people,” Verdugo said of his new students.

For more information, visit hoopstransformationcenter.com.

daniela@www.smdp.com

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