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Meyer family on both sides of Skyridge-Westlake volleyball contest

By Brian E. Preece - Herald Correspondent | Sep 9, 2021
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Skyridge head coach Deanna Meyer (right) poses for a photo with her daughters — Falcons senior Emma Meyer (center) and Westlake head coach Sammy Cannon — before the Region 4 contest at Westlake on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (Brian E. Preece, Herald Correspondent)
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Family members Brian Preece (Deanna Meyer’s brother), Sammy Cannon, Deanna Meyer, Emma Meyer, Mary Ann Preece (Deanna Meyer’s mother/Sammy Cannon’s grandmother) pose for a photo before the Region 4 contest at Westlake on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (Brian E. Preece, Herald Correspondent)
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The Skyridge volleyball team huddles up during the Region 4 contest at Westlake on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (Brian E. Preece, Herald Correspondent)

Thursday’s volleyball match between Westlake and Skyridge in Lehi was truly a family affair.

Skyridge head coach Deanna Meyer coached against her oldest daughter Sammy Cannon, who leads the Thunder program. And to make matters even more complicated, Meyer’s middle daughter Emma Meyer plays for the Falcons.

Led by the tough serving of Emma Grant and Emma Meyer, the hitting prowess by the likes of Rose Moore and Madison Standifird, along with the quality defensive play at the net by Elle McCandless and in the back row by libero Licia Echeverria, host Skyridge (5-1, 1-0) defeated Westlake (1-6, 0-1) in three sets (25-9, 25-23, 25-12).

There were other interested parties in the stands that included Meyer’s mother and Cannon’s grandmother, Mary Ann Preece.

“It’s a proud moment (for me) to see my daughter and granddaughter both coaching at 6A schools,” said Preece, who would not reveal any rooting interest in the contest.

Before Cannon took the job at Westlake, she served as an assistant coach for Meyer for several years both at Lone Peak and at Skyridge. But the Thunder program was looking for a coach and Cannon was available.

“I think Sammy is in the right place at the right time,” Deanna Meyer said. “Westlake has potential, but they have struggled for many years. They need some consistency, and I think Sammy can bring that.”

Since Westlake has been in 6A and in Region 4, much like many of the school’s athletic programs, success in volleyball as measured by wins and losses has been hard to come by. Both head coaches know it will be a process.

“I just think this program needs some TLC,” Cannon said. “I have a great bunch of girls but we are young and we’re just learning how to play at varsity speed. We’re building that experience.”

For Deanna Meyer, it isn’t that the athletic talent doesn’t exist at Westlake but much of it is just the league they are competing in, something she thinks has been offset by the new RPI system and all teams having a chance to compete at the state tournament.

“I think Westlake has, and will continue to benefit from the RPI format,” Deanna Meyer said. “I know a couple of seasons ago they made the top 12 at the state tournament, though they finished last in our region.”

Deanna Meyer has won six state titles as a coach (five at Lone Peak and one at Skyridge) with Cannon being a member on one of those championship teams at Lone Peak High School, but neither feels success should be measured in wins and losses.

“Why do we have high school sports?” Deanna Meyer asked. “Wins and losses don’t provide a good enough reason. We have high school sports so we can develop character, to develop the individual, and to develop the individual to succeed within a group setting. We have sports so we can teach athletes how to deal with adversity and to be resolute.”

Cannon echoes those same sentiments.

“It’s not about wins and losses,” Cannon said. “Coaching volleyball to me is about molding young minds and empowering young women and supporting them so they can build confidence in themselves.”

Deanna Meyer can also relate to the challenges of taking over a struggling program.

She started her career at Granger and then came to Lone Peak 21 years ago. But when she arrived at Lone Peak, the school was far from being a volleyball powerhouse as the Knight program had just won four games in three seasons and never made an appearance at the state tournament.

Deanna Meyer was able to build a winning culture, and she thinks her daughter Cannon can do the same at Westlake if given enough time and support.

“You have to establish core values and build a winning culture,” Deanna Meyer said. “As I have watched some of Westlake’s matches this year, I see kids that want to be coached and that they are fighting to the end.”

Though the two haven’t shared specific thoughts about the match, Deanna Meyer has been more than willing to share her knowledge with her daughter.

“I am certainly willing to share advice if she wants it,” Deanna Meyer said. “But I really do that with all the young coaches. We, as veteran coaches, need to help our young coaches because with how things are today, it’s hard to be a coach. We are losing too many young coaches, and if this continues, our sport isn’t going to grow and develop as it could.”

Cannon is actually the third generation of coaches from the Preece-Meyer family.

Her grandfather Dennis Preece was a Hall of Fame wrestling coach and the architect of the Uintah wrestling dynasty of the 1960s and 1970s where Preece won nine state titles in 12 years. All total, Dennis Preece and Deanna Meyer have coached 16 state titles.

For Cannon and Deanna Meyer, this might not have been a match they sought out to schedule right now, but since both teams are in the same league, they will meet at least twice this season.

“It’s hard to coach against girls you coached, let alone your own sister,” Cannon said.

As far as things around the house, where Cannon lives in a basement apartment of the Meyer home, there wasn’t much said leading up to the match.

“I haven’t really thought about it much,” Emma Meyer said. “I just want to win the match for my teammates.”

Emma Meyer said she did learn some things from her older sister over the years.

“She stressed to me to be myself and have fun and not be so serious,” Emma Meyer said.

Deanna Meyer does have one other daughter, Kaitlyn, a freshman that hopes to star one day on the pitch, as she plays goalkeeper in the Skyridge soccer program. Her dad, John Meyer, spent Thursday evening watching her play soccer for the Falcon JV team.

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