June 14, 2013
An athlete's ability to perform at the highest collegiate level takes years of work and dedication. For some, it comes naturally. For others, hard work and dedication must be learned.
Women's basketball guard Keyahndra Cannon learned discipline and work ethic a little differently.
Cassandra Cannon, Keyahndra's mother, made her living as a semi-professional bowler. Growing up with her mother in the bowling alley has had lasting effects for the sophomore.
"I definitely learned my work ethic from my mom," Keyahndra said. "When I was younger she would take me to the bowling alley. I'd watch her practice and compete with everybody. It made me want to be just like that."
Instead of falling directly in her mother's footsteps, Keyahndra chose a sport she fell in love with at an early age - basketball. Cassandra served as an athletic model for Keyahndra, teaching her life lessons about training at an elite level.
"It was one of those things that I did and I taught her work ethic through bowling," Cassandra said. "I wanted to teach her and she wanted to learn."
Keyahndra believes that the passion her mother had for her own sport helped her to develop into the athlete she is today.
"Her athleticism is kind of different," Keyahndra said. "But the passion that she has for it rubs off on me when I play basketball, because if she bowls badly one day, she will get back in the bowling alley and practice more. That gives me the drive to continue to practice and work hard in basketball."
Keyahndra's decision to choose basketball was an easy one.
"It came naturally to me," Keyahndra said. "It was something that I've always had the gift to do. I told myself if I can do it, I might as well take it to the next level. That's what I did."
Cassandra fully supported Keyahndra's decision to stick with basketball. She knew it would give her daughter a chance to achieve at a higher level.
"As a junior bowler myself, I knew there was scholarship money in the junior league," Cassandra said. "I knew if she stuck with it and worked hard, she could get a scholarship too. And it was exactly the same mindset when it came to basketball."
Cassandra is not surprised at the success and athleticism of her daughter.
"It was her determination--she has always wanted to be the best," Cassandra said. "In bowling, you have to train, you have to put the hours in at the bowling alley and you have to be there when other people aren't. It is the same with basketball and this is how Keyahndra learned that it needed to be done at an early age."
With pre-season workouts already in full effect this summer, Keyahndra is ready to step up with the loss of senior and current WNBA player Davellyn Whyte. In the 2012-12 season, Keyahndra emerged as one of the team's leading freshmen.
"I just hope to contribute in ways to help my team because we did lose a big part last year in losing Davellyn," Keyahndra said. "I hope to fill in her shoes a little bit and to contribute as much as I can."
In showing her dedication to proving herself, Keyahndra displayed her unique athleticism at the Marine Combat Fitness Challenge, where she accomplished to beat every female record.
"That was definitely something new for me," Keyahndra said of the experience. "Doing that, I felt like I wanted to show off and give a good name for our women's basketball program. I wanted to win, because there were a lot of people out there. For us to compete out there was definitely a great experience."
Moving towards the 2014 season, Cannon still uses the lessons she learned from her mother's bowling success as a way to remind herself the dedication it takes to not only remain successful, but of the love she has for basketball.
"If I'm not doing well in basketball, I can go to the lessons I learned from bowling as a reminder that basketball is something I have to continue to work on to get better," Cannon said. "When I go bowling, I remind myself that my mom used to do this day in and day out. It reminds me that I need to keep going back into the gym and continue to work and get better. It's something I fall back on."