Lydia Strong, the Head Women’s Basketball Coach of the Santa Monica Corsairs has been coaching at the California Community College level for 36 years, and is generally regarded as one of the most successful and respected women's basketball coaches in the California Community College circles. Strong brought her passionate and energetic style of teaching and coaching to the Santa Monica College Campus in 2000 and plans to end her career at SMC.
Coach Strong has just completed her 18th year at SMC. Since her arrival she has been selected Western State Conference Coach of the Year twice (2008 and 2017) and has helped numerous players move on to four year Universities. Strong has coached and mentored over 41 All Western State Conference players and 2 Conference Most Valuable Players. She has also led her team to 24 pre-season tournament finishes and 8 playoff appearances. She led SMC Women's Basketball to its first Western State Conference Championship in over 20 years in 2008. In 2016-2017 Coach Strong led the team to another Western State Conference South Division Championship with a 7-1 record in Conference play.
Coach Strong has over 400 wins at the California Community College level which ranks her amongst the top 15 coaches in the state with career wins. During the 2016-2017 the team won the Western State Conference Championship and qualified for the Southern California Regional Tournament as a #14 seed advancing to the second round of play where the season ended.
"I feel I have been both blessed and lucky in my career. To be one of a few to achieve 400 wins says a lot about my former players and assistant coaches as they have had everything to do with all I've accomplished both here at SMC and at Ohlone College. My objective every year is to make sure that anyone who competes here at SMC puts themselves in a position to be successful in life, in the classroom and of course on the court. I also think its important that any student-athlete who competes here represents their family, themselves, the school and our women's basketball program with integrity and class. In addition both myself and my staff work hard to put each player in a position move on to the next level both academically and athletically if that is their goal. Of course there is a lot in involved in that, but that is always the primary goal. Everyone knows that SMC is the #1 transfer school to both UCLA and USC and I try to instill the need for academic, life and basketball success on a daily basis."
Coach Strong began her career as an assistant coach at Ohlone Jr. College in Fremont, California before taking over the program the following season. At Ohlone College she was the most successful women’s basketball coach in the school’s history. During her 13-year tenure as head coach at Ohlone, Coach Strong led her teams to 6 Coast Conference Championships. The Renegades won over 250 games, and competed in 11 California Community College State Playoffs. In addition her teams finished either 2nd or 3rd in the Coast Conference on numerous occasions.
A native of Kansas City Kansas, Coach Strong is a graduate of Chapman College in Orange California where she earned her Bachelors Degree in Spanish and was a letter winner for the Panthers. Coach Strong prepped at Newark High School in Newark California where she earned All Conference honors in both basketball and softball. She earned her Masters Degree in Athletic Administration from St. Mary’s College in Moraga California. Strong is a member of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) and the California Community College Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. (CCCWBCA).
At Santa Monica College, Coach Strong is a Full time tenured faculty member who teaches both lecture and activity courses. She currently serves on the SMC Curriculum Committee, is also a Faculty Leader and the Sports Information Director for the Athletics Department.