Picking a passion
Despite that early success on the slopes in Sun Valley, Cannon and his
family spent the rest of the year far from snow in California’s Los Altos Hills
near San Jose, where the high-level competition in other sports proved a
compelling draw for all the Cannon boys. Jon was a star baseball player who
went on to play minor league ball; younger brother, Colt, became a famous
professional skateboarder; and Joe immersed himself in soccer.
“When I was about 14,” Cannon says, “I had a great club coach named Alberto Montoya, who believed I was good enough to get a college scholarship,
and from that point on I really focused on nothing but soccer.”
Cannon spent time at two of the nation’s very best soccer colleges, first matriculating at the University of California at Santa Barbara before moving on
to Santa Clara University, where he overlapped with future NBA star Steve
Nash, who is, coincidentally, among the owners of Cannon’s current Vancouver Whitecaps team.
“I credit coaches like Mitch Murray at Santa Clara University for getting me
to think about being a professional and trying to give me the discipline to do
that,” Cannon says of his time at Santa Clara, adding that there wasn’t necessarily an obvious path for Americans who wanted to play professionally at the
time. “When I first got to college, Major League Soccer didn’t exist but it was
in the works, so I just made it a goal: ‘I want to be a pro soccer player.’”
Cannon has an uncanny ability to remember the details of even the minutiae
from each of his hundreds of pro starts: the exact move a player used to beat
him in a league game in 2004 when he played for the Colorado Rapids; the
weather, time of day, and angle of the sun when he made a brilliant stop in his
return to San Jose in 2008; etc. And because of that exceptional memory, Ski
Racing had to ask Cannon what it was like to be the L.A. Galaxy goalkeeper
in 2007, when new teammate David Beckham arrived and forever changed
the face of the league.
“Honestly, it was a little crazy and a tremendous learning experience,” Cannon says. “David is a good teammate and a true pro, but he’s also more than
just a soccer player, and his arrival put a tremendous amount of pressure on
our team — not to mention [media scrutiny]. There were some surreal moments that year.”
One day, the team entered the locker room to find that each locker was
adorned with an ornate envelope.
BOD FRID / VANCOUVER WHI TECAPS FC.; COURTESY JOE CANNON SR.
Cannon (right) catches his breath
with Whitecaps teammate and
American 2010 World Cup star
Little Joe and Jon Cannon pose
with Phil and Steve Mahre as Joe
Sr. and mom, Barbara, look on.
SkiRacing.com OCTOBER 31, 2011 | 60