Local teachers’ band to play benefit for SDA Boys Water Polo program


When not in front of a classroom, San Dieguito Union High School District teachers Janet Berend, Kaitlin Wood and Tracy Yates Commerson are rocking out on stage as part of the funk n’ roll group Super Nacho.

The entertaining educators’ Super Nacho will be playing a benefit show on Friday, Oct. 17, at The Belly Up in Solana Beach to support the San Dieguito High School Academy (SDA) Boys Water Polo program. The show will be a fun happy hour event from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

“We are really, really excited to do this for the water polo team,” said the band’s drummer Berend, an English teacher at La Costa Canyon High School whose son, Ben, is on the SDA varsity squad as a freshman.

San Dieguito water polo could use the help — it is a young program started in 2010 by parent Virginia Sullivan and her son, Danny, who wanted to play but didn’t have a team at his high school.

The program has continued to grow over the last four years and Danny has returned to coach the junior varsity team.

As the program grows it has been a struggle to get pool time, which is not cheap. Facilities often charge by the lane and by the hour. Players and parents have stepped in to fundraise and “hustle” along the way — the boys selling candy and one parent successfully securing a pool site this year at Alga Norte Aquatic Center in Carlsbad.

Scott Kling coaches the varsity Mustangs. Team members have been working hard for their fall season since June and July, with weight room workouts and morning swim sessions in the ocean twice a week.

“What’s so cool about what The Belly Up is doing is that a portion of the door is going to San Dieguito water polo from anybody who walks in the door on Oct. 17 for happy hour,” Berend said. “Even if they don’t care about water polo, they can have a beer, listen to some music and they’re helping out.”

Berend started playing drums as a little girl when she received a drum set for Christmas. She played in a band in college but didn’t dig the drum set out again until 15 years ago when she started a band called Los Chicharrones Guapos with her husband, Jeff, who plays the guitar.

Los Chicharrones has evolved into Super Nacho.

Fellow local teachers sing backup: Wood, who teaches English and is an Associated Student Body Advisor at La Costa Canyon, and Yates Commerson, who teaches in the Envision dance program at Canyon Crest Academy. Super Nacho also has many guest vocalist appearances by San Dieguito Academy history teacher Bob Teisher.

Super Nacho is rounded out by lead singer Angel Phipps, Bob Wright on keyboards and Russ Schutz on bass and vocals. Berend met Schutz when they both swam on the swim team in Palomar College in the 1980s; they both became lifeguards in Solana Beach and that’s where Janet met her husband Jeff.

“We have all been friends for a long time and I guess you could say it started in a pool and in the ocean so it seems fitting that we’re able to help raise funds for the water polo program,” said Janet, who lives in Leucadia.

Schtuz’s son, Riley, also plays water polo at SDA.

The Berends also have a daughter who is a senior at San Dieguito High School Academy, who, along with brother Ben, marvels at their rock star parents.

“The kids think it’s hilarious. We rehearse in our living room and it’s kind of a role reversal,” Janet said. “They’re the ones saying ‘Mom, dad, can you be quiet’ while we’re in the living room rocking out.”

Due to her English teacher background, Berend was tapped to take on the duties of writing the lyrics for the band’s original songs — the teacher has also had a young adult novel about skateboarding published called “Vertical.”

She describes Super Nacho’s sets as fun, lively, “silly mayhem,” a mixture of original songs and mash-ups of popular songs where they are constantly surprising the audience with which pop tune they are going to roll into.

“We put on a heck of a show,” Berend said. “There’s a joy to playing music and that translates over to the audience.”

The band had to go through the live band circuit to get on the local radar screen, so it wasn’t always enjoyable playing 1:30 a.m. shows as busy parents. But once they did their time and built a strong following, they were able to book a steady happy hour gig at The Belly Up. They play there about every three months or so, which is, Berend said, as much as they want to play.

“What’s cool about The Belly Up happy hour is that you can go out, see some really good live music, grab some dinner and be home in bed by 10 p.m. if you want to be,” Berend said. “It’s perfect for our audience.”

For more information, visit The Belly Up is located at 143 S. Cedros Ave., Solana Beach.