A Payson High School senior who gave up a multisport career to focus on volleyball three years ago has been named the Class 3A East Region's Most Valuable Player.
Setter Brooke Cannon was chosen the region's best in a voting of head coaches at the conclusion of the regular season.
Cannon's ascension to the East's top honor actually began as a freshman when she decided to play on the Club Red 17-years-and-under traveling volleyball team as the best way to get the recognition she needed from college recruiters and to better herself for varsity play.
"If you want to be good, you almost have to play year-round," she said. "Volleyball is my passion and I'm hoping it pays off with a college scholarship."
Cannon's goal is to earn a scholarship to a NCAA Division I school, but said receiving one to a D-II school "would be awesome."
As a member of Club Red, she traveled the country playing in tournaments in Denver, Colo., Anaheim, Calif., Atlanta, Ga., Las Vegas, Nev. and around the Valley.
She also showcased her skills the past three years at prestigious Sports Performance Camps in Texas and Illinois.
Winning the East MVP honor and playing on the national circuit caught the attention of national recruiters.
"She gets about five (recruiting) letters a day," said her mother, Michelle.
As a three-year starter for the Lady Longhorns, Cannon drew praise from coach Arnold Stonebrink who said, "She was probably the clear-cut leader, the setter, or quarterback, and was a player who hustled all the time."
Cannon might have been at her setting best in late September during a crucial 3-2 win over the Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets.
Following the victory, Stonebrink said, "She had a fabulous game of setting as evidenced by all our hitters having positive stats."
Cannon was also one of the team's best servers and an athlete who had the skills to play at the net where she could score on spikes and tips.
Cannon's school volleyball career actually began as a seventh grader just after her family moved to Payson from California.
She credits Rim Country Middle School coach Shelli Creighton for helping develop her considerable talents.
"She is the one who encouraged me to be a setter," Cannon said. "I'll always be thankful to her for that."
After a highly successful two-year middle school career, Cannon earned a starting spot on the Lady Longhorn junior varsity as a freshman.
The following season, as a wide-eyed, untested sophomore, she played her way to a varsity starting position. She now calls that experience, "more than a bit intimidating but a good challenge."
As a junior, Cannon blossomed into one of the region's best, earning a spot on the All-East first team.
Although the teenager became one of high school and the club circuits' most accomplished players, she remains humble, saying the credit for her success should go to her family, coaches and personal trainer Joanne Travis.
"I am so thankful for all their sacrifices. They are an inspiration to me," she said.