Brooke Cannon is not just happy to be here.
Softball programs across the country have been recruiting Cannon since junior high, and the Lehigh sophomore outfielder from Virginia Beach, Virginia, says that process was a pivotal time in her life.
“They want to recruit you at such a young age,” Cannon said. “They want you to know exactly what you want to do. It’s so much pressure. It was almost too much, to the point where I almost didn’t want to do it anymore.”
Balancing long weekends at softball tournaments and recruiting camps with academics and time with friends can be a hard reality for any athlete — let alone a middle schooler — but Cannon pressed on.
She said that whenever she faces adversity or challenges along her journey, she always goes back to the reason why she started to play the game.
“My sister and my dad would throw every day in the yard, and I wanted to be like her,” Cannon said.
Inspired by her big sister, Cannon said she started playing softball at age 7 or 8.
As a freshman at Kellam High school, Cannon got the opportunity to play on the same team as her sister. She said her sister was always there for her during that time.
“My sister would come up to me and say, ‘I know you love this — remember throwing in the yard,’” Cannon said.
Cannon’s ultimate goal has always been to be a collegiate softball player. When the time came to make a decision, Lehigh was an easy choice.
Lehigh’s strong academics, as well as Cannon’s admiration for the campus, were major factors in her decision to commit. So, too, were the relationship she had built with several of the players on the team through travel and club softball growing up.
“I think everyone goes through the same things in college,” Cannon said. “Having teammates you are close with that you can lean on for help when things get tough is one of the most impactful things.”
One teammate that Cannon leans on often is fellow sophomore and friend, Katelyn Young.
“Brooke is so much fun to play with, and I couldn’t imagine these past two years without her,” Young said. “She was put in many positions on the field and was able to adapt to all of them, and I think she is an outstanding outfielder because she came in as an infielder and was able to adjust, and she can really come in clutch out there”
Last season, amidst the pandemic and times of uncertainty, Cannon and the Mountain Hawks tried to emphasize that they were happy and lucky to be where they were: A prestigious school with a Division I softball program located on a beautiful campus
Cannon said that last year, the upperclassmen on the team, along with coach Fran Troyan, helped guide her and the other underclassmen through that experience.
“They would say things like, ‘I promise once you get through this part, the rest will be so much better,’ and, ‘This isn’t all that Lehigh is — you just have to wait and see it,’ and that was really nice to have during that time,” Cannon said.
Cannon said the team did covid-safe activities to try to help keep team morale up last year, like going to Rita’s Italian Ice after practice because it was outside.
“I think fun things like that, especially since I was new, definitely made a difference in the end,” Cannon said.
This fall, Cannon will be an upperclassman, and with that, will take on a larger role with the team.
“Brooke has progressed her entire time at Lehigh,” Young said. “She has always been a very good contact hitter and has always been so reliable in the box since being at Lehigh.”
Becoming an upperclassman also means you have to lead.
“I’ve always been more of a leader by example instead of a vocal leader,” Cannon said. “But I think everyone is a leader in their own way.”
Added Young: “She doesn’t let negativity affect her, and she is always there to pick up a teammate who’s having a rough game.”
Lehigh softball coach Fran Troyan believes Cannon is poised to take the next step.
“Brooke is a gamer,” Troyan said. “She plays hard, and she plays smart. All of the players and coaches respect and love her.”
Cannon said the lessons that she can learn from Troyan are invaluable because of how long he has been around the game and the knowledge that he possesses.
“Coach Fran’s been around the game for 30 years,” she said. “He knows all the ins and outs of the game, so it is really nice to have that kind of leader.”