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Finding Leadership in Surprising Places
Lisa Fernandez

Left: Brendan Cannon '23 triumphs in the Panther win against Ballard High School, 28-7.

“Brendan is everything a high school athlete should be. He is the reason I do this job.” —Sam Reed, Prep Athletic Director 

BRENDAN CANNON ’23 personifies “scholar athlete”. He defies stereotypes, having found success in both football and tennis while proving to be equally impressive academically. In May Brendan graduated with a 3.9 GPA and will be attending Claremont McKenna College, in California, this fall.

This two-time captain keeps his dad’s words of wisdom front and center. “Every morning when I leave for school my dad says, ‘make someone smile today.’ I didn’t really take his advice that seriously until I realized just how important a quality that really is,” he says. That advice has at times put Brendan in uncomfortable situations. But he credits these moments for his growth as a leader.

Brendan grew up on tennis. His dad played at a national level, and it was part of everyday life, making it a natural choice at Prep. But it was football that proved a surprise.

“I had always wanted to play football, but I wasn’t allowed until my freshman year when my parents expected me to play for a year and quit, simply looking at how small I was. Little did they expect, I found something that I loved in football, and it became massively important to me,” says Brendan.

Two memories stand out. One is the walk-off win against O’Dea in 2021. “Watching AVC (Alijah Vaouli-Buchanan ’21) run the ball into the end zone for the last play of the game was incredible,” Brendan says. Equally memorable was his tennis win at metros with Beau Oaksmith ’25.

Lessons as a player, and captain abound in what many see as incongruent sports. “A good team is one that is willing to listen to everybody. It’s also about holding your teammates accountable for their actions as well as yourself. It’s never ‘you guys have to be better at tackling’or ‘you need to be better’, it’s ‘WE need to be better’. The instant you take even a single player out of the team, it becomes a different team,” he says.

Brendan adds, “The transition between football and tennis is difficult because showing the emotion that I would in a football game is considered unsportsmanlike in tennis. But playing both sports taught me to better respond to different situations that were out of my control.” Brendan wants his legacy at Prep to be about his contributions and impact, not just on athletes but nonathletes as well. He says, “Leadership is being able to positively impact those around you and to make them strive to be the best at what they do. It’s helping people learn to work together and build from their mistakes. My hope is that I left Seattle Prep in a better place than I found it.”

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Lisa Fernandez, Director of Communications & Marketing