Only The Strong Survive
In her ninth season at Santa Monica College, Lydia Strong the head coach of the Lady Corsairs basketball team is considered one of the most successful coaches in the California Community College system.
Growing up in the Bay area, Strong was passionate about basketball. Playing in high school and at Chapman College, where she graduated with a degree in Spanish, she never planned to make coaching her career. "I wasn't a great player, but I knew the game," said Strong.
When a friend of hers told her of the part-time coaching position at Ohlone Junior college, she shunned the idea. "I didn't want to be a coach."
But soon, the art of recruiting and strategy worked its magic on Strong and she fell in love with coaching. This led to Strong being Ohlone's head coach for 14 years, before coming down to SMC.
At Ohlone, Strong had the most successful record for coaching women's basketball in the schools history. Under her leadership the team won over 250 games, and competed in the Community College State Playoffs 11 times.
Moving from a part-time to full-time position, Strong loves working in Santa Monica, "but don't get me wrong, the Bay area is home."
Working full time at SMC allows Strong to be more available for her students when called upon. Strong enjoys the working for the athletic department here at SMC, saying that there are a lot of coaches that work hard for their teams. This semester she is also teaching a health class and a boxing class.
"I enjoy all sports, and I teach boxing too, but basketball is my passion."
Coming to SMC in 2000, Strong had her first milestone in 2002 when the team ended the season with a 17-15 record, qualifying them for the playoffs. The following year the team placed third in the Western State Conference
Strong took the Lady Corsairs to victory in the 2007-2008 season, and the team won the Western State Conference for the first time in 27 years.
However last season wasn't as profitable. The Lady Corsairs finished with a record of 11-16. Losing their last game against the West Los Angeles College Lady Wildcats solidified their defeat, as the playoffs fell just out of reach. The team placed third in the Western State Conference.
Strong projects that this season will be a more successful one. "We like what they're all bringing [to the team]. There's a lot of talent this season." According to Strong the team is eager to learn and eager to get better. They are all listening well and hope to have a better season than the last.
One of the most important things Strong wants her players to get out of the program, besides getting better, is to work hard. "I don't like players that are allergic to work. If you're allergic to work I don't want you on the team."