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Proceeds from San Dieguito surf-team event will flow to Nicaragua school

San Dieguito High School Academy’s surf team Coach Marco Martinez is teaching his young wave riders to Surf, Live and Give. Martinez has found a way to pair surf travel to exotic destinations with experiencing local cultures and giving back to needy communities.

A concert fundraiser will be held Friday, April 3 to help support the team’s efforts for the Santa Teresa School in Nicaragua. The fundraiser will feature a happy hour concert from 5-8 p.m. with local funk ’n’ roll group Super Nacho at the Belly Up Tavern. Tickets are $7 at the door, and the Belly Up will contribute a portion of every ticket sold to the surf team’s grass-roots fundraising efforts.

Martinez, a special-education teacher at San Dieguito, has been the surf coach since 2010.

The surf team had always taken surf trips during the summer, and members have been all over the world — to Central America, South America and the South Pacific. When Martinez took over, they started going to Nicaragua.

Martinez was able to connect with Mateo Blevins, a San Dieguito graduate living in Nicaragua, and the team worked with him to visit several different local schools in between surf sessions.

“We’d stuff our board bags with school supplies like markers, pencils, crayons and glue sticks, and sports gear like soccer balls and Frisbees,” Martinez said.

The team would spend an afternoon with kids at different schools in a variety of areas, sometimes bringing along a piñata.

Last summer, the team went to a different part of Nicaragua for their surf trip, and Martinez linked up with San Diego native Dave Pearson and his wife, Katya, who had started a small school on their property. The Santa Theresa School is the only school for children in a remote and poor community.

The San Dieguito team received a sponsorship from a local Encinitas family, and they used the donations to help build a foundation for a new schoolroom.

“They had pretty much been living in the dirt,” Martinez said.

The five students and Martinez did the labor with other volunteers, and again brought surf bags filled with supplies as well as a donation of two iPads.

“He’s really got a big heart,” said Jen Kaufman, a surf team parent, of Martinez. “His passion is to give back, and he makes the kids work really hard when they’re down there. It’s great that we’re able to give them a little bit more. The school is delighted beyond belief that we’re doing this for them.”

Super Nacho is a perfect fit for the fundraiser, as the band features several San Dieguito Union High School District teachers. The lineup includes Janet Berend, an English teacher from La Costa Canyon; Kaitlin Wood, an English teacher and ASB director at La Costa; Tracy Yates, who teaches dance at Canyon Crest Academy; and “much loved” San Dieguito history teacher Bob Teisher.

The band has a history of using its gigs to support San Dieguito: Last year, a happy hour show benefited the school’s water polo team.

The Santa Theresa school has 15 students, ages 6 through 17, and one teacher, and they need all the help they can get, Martinez said.

Martinez said he plans to bring his surf team back to Nicaragua this summer. More than exposure to surf breaks and cultural differences like pig roasts, the ability to have his team give back is what makes the trips so important and impactful.

“When they get down there, they realize just how much they have here in the States. The people there have less, but they’re not less happy,” Martinez said.

“It opens their eyes …We’re so fortunate to have things like schools and school supplies. And the kids are always so appreciative down there. The smile on their face when we give them school supplies is so cool. It’s just a good experience overall.”

Email sdasurfteam@gmail.com.


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