It’s 2013 and the Santa Monica High softball team is reeling, left wondering what could have been after losing in the championship game of the CIF Southern Section playoffs.

But Vikings coach Debbie Skaggs isn’t going to stew for long. Instead she wants to prepare for the future, looking for anything that might give her squad an advantage the following season.

Enter Kermit Cannon.

Samohi’s longtime strength and conditioning coach swoops in, overseeing workouts for Skaggs’ players several times a week during the offseason.

“We just wanted to add something different,” Skaggs said. “We wanted to have the kids hear from a difference voice — even if they’re hearing the same things, it’s from a different perspective. It was a good change. They enjoyed it. It was hard work, but they loved it.”

Thanks in part to their time with Cannon, the Vikings made it back to the section finals in 2014. And they engineered a different result this time, topping Ventura to snag their second title in five seasons.

The success of Skaggs’ program is a small slice of evidence of the impact Cannon made during his 22 years as an athletic trainer in the Santa Monica-Malibu school district, which he’s leaving for a similar position at Windward School in the Mar Vista area of Los Angeles.

“The opportunity to work in a small, family-oriented environment was a big draw,” Cannon said of his decision. “To be able to bring my techniques into a brand new, state-of-the-art facility alongside a top staff with a commitment to excellence is very exciting.”

Cannon aims to build on the sports tradition at Windward, whose alumni include professional baseball player Tyler Heineman, professional basketball player Darius Morris, beach volleyball medalist Jenny Johnson Jordan, gymnastics standout Samantha Shapiro and dozens of current and former college athletes.

This past school year, the private school won section championships in boys and girls basketball.

“Windward is one of the finest educational institutions around and has produced many championship sports teams as well,” Cannon said. “I am hoping I can add what I have to offer to their growing legacy.”

What Cannon offers is a variety of strength and fitness programming that is specifically designed for developing athletes. During his time at Samohi he worked with the softball, girls basketball and boys and girls volleyball teams, among others, and has also served as a youth instructor in the Santa Monica Police Activities League.

Cannon, who is also a fitness author and owner of a youth sports training company, received a community leadership award from the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition in 2011 for his efforts to promote physical activity and nutritional health.

“He’s very dedicated,” Skaggs said. “He was a great role model, he has a great sense of humor and he really builds relationships.”

Cannon was a standout athlete at Culver City High School and began attending clinics and studying techniques to help him bounce back from injuries. He eventually parlayed the skills into a full-time job.

The training specialist was always excited to work with athletes who showed extra initiative, striving to help them achieve their athletic goals. One such athlete was Vikings alumnus Max Forer, a walk-on center for the Oregon football team who played in the Bowl Championship Series title game in 2011.

“Without Kermit’s help and mentorship,” Forer told the Daily Press at the time, “I wouldn’t have made it this far.”

Cannon, meanwhile, is looking forward to his new position at Windward but has fond memories of his years at Santa Monica.

“I am so grateful to have worked so many years at Samohi with their wonderful faculty, classified employees and coaching staff,” he said. “A special thanks to our physical education staff and all of the students and parents who have supported my programs over the years.”

Contact Jeff Goodman at 310-573-8351, or on Twitter.

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