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An honorable walk

August 01, 2002

200 ballots to a worldwide panel of voters from surf associations,

organizations, museums, previous inductees and media venues. They, in

turn, select their choices in the five categories.

Nominations are based on achievements within the surfing community

at least 10 years before the 2002 induction ceremony. The lone

exception is in the category of surf pioneer, whose inductees are

nominated based on having reached the age of 50 or who are deceased.

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Dora, one of surfing's first, true stars, died of cancer earlier

this year.

"I think we have an exciting group," MacAllister said. "All of

these inductees have advanced the sport of surfing in some way, and

it is our way of honoring those who have made a great contribution to

surfing."

To be honored in the Walk of Fame, an inductee must have 10 years

of surfing in his past, MacAllister said.

Slater just reached the 10-year mark this year, he added.

Verdone has been at it much longer.

From the time he was 12 and got his first surfboard at the old

Robert August surf shop in Huntington Beach, Verdone knew surfing was

it for him.

"I was a young grom then," he recalls. "I used to prop my board up

in the corner of my bedroom and just look at it, thinking how awesome

it was."

Verdone got into teaching and coaching at Huntington Beach High

School in 1983. He served as an assistant coach in the Oiler football

and baseball programs but had his eye on one job in particular.

"I told Dave Van Hoorebeke, our athletic director, that when the

surfing head coaching position comes open, I'm the man for the job. I

told him I'm a surfer and a qualified teacher and coach," he said.

"That job did open up, midway through the 1987-88 school year, and I

took over for Chuck Allen. I got a dream job at Huntington Beach High

and never looked back."

It was a perfect fit.

Under Verdone, the Oiler surf program continues to be synonymous

with outstanding success. Huntington Beach has captured five

California Interscholastic Surf Federation state championships -- the

Oilers are the reigning state champion -- won 10 National Scholastic

Surf Assn. national titles, several NSSA state titles, and won 14 of

the past 15 Sunset League titles.

His teams annually go on surfing safaris across the globe,

including past trips to Australia, South Africa and Ireland.

Several of Verdone's former pupils will be competing this week in

the U.S. Open of Surfing and the Billabong Pro Juniors competitions.

"I've had so many talented kids come through our program, and it's

a thrill to see them continue on and be successful at the next

level," Verdone said. "I've seen a lot change in surfing at the pier.

It's a whole new era now."

Verdone is now part of an era that is linked to Huntington Beach

surfing history, as is his Oiler predecessor, George Allen, 1999

Honor Roll recipient.

The Honor Roll was created to distinguish those individuals who

have contributed to surfing and its culture and are deserving of

recognition, but might not qualify to receive an individual stone

along the Walk of Fame, MacAllister said.

"It's going to be wild walking down Main Street and seeing my name

cemented in the sidewalk," Verdone added. "What a trip. Does that

mean my time's up?"

* MIKE SCIACCA covers sports and features. He can be reached at

(714) 965-7171 or by e-mail at michael.sciacca@latimes.com.

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