By Clayton Collier
Having completed a historic high school volleyball resume at Kings Park, graduate Amanda Gannon will look to extend that resume at the collegiate level, as she heads back to Iona College this fall.
Renee Gannon, Amanda’s mother and former volleyball coach at Bethpage High School, said her daughter’s commitment to Iona is a result of years of hard work.
“I am so happy for her,” she said. “This is something she’s honestly wanted since she was in seventh grade when she started travel volleyball. … She’s just worked so hard for this and I’m so proud of her.”
The four-time Long Island champion graduated high school in January in order to attend her first semester at Iona early, and practice with its Division I volleyball team. Amanda Gannon said she was happy with the decision to forego her final months of high school classes to get a jump-start on college, as well as acclimating herself to the Gaels’ program.
“I can’t wait to go back,” she said. “Going there in the spring was amazing and I’m so happy I decided to leave high school early. We only trained in the spring and didn’t get to play, but the girls are really nice, I love the coach and I’m looking forward to the season starting.”
Iona head coach Jon Killingbeck said the extra semester has been beneficial for all parties.
“We’re super excited to have Amanda as part of our program,” he said. “With every player we try to get to know how to reach them better and I think in the last six months I have strengthened my relationship with Amanda. For her, I think she has learned what it means to be a college athlete.”
Gannon, Kings Park’s all-time kills leader and reigning Long Island Player of the Year, verbally committed to Iona in the winter of her junior year. The outside hitter said having college already planned out helped ease her mind heading into her senior season.
“I didn’t have to go through the process of filling out a bunch of college applications; I had one,” she said. “I knew what my future was. I just had to worry about becoming better in volleyball and taking my game to the next level. I never used committing as an excuse to relax on my school work or volleyball. I always worked hard and strived to do better.”
Kingsmen head coach Lizz Manly said Gannon, her only player to have played in all four consecutive championships, only got better as the years progressed.
“She spent all year every off season training to become the player she is today, and has showed that hard work does pay off,” she said. “Her last two seasons in high school she was an all-around phenomenal player. She packed the stat sheets all around and those are the type of players that people notice.”
Gannon has not forgotten the work Manly and her husband put in to make her the player she is today.
“They have helped my volleyball technique grow and become stronger,” she said. “They always sparked the competitive drive in me. They always have believed in me and believed I could always do better pushing me to my limits, and off the court they taught me how to be respectful and how to work with others. They are really huge influential people in my life and without the Manlys I wouldn’t be who I am today.”
Manly said she’ll miss Gannon’s consistent desire to improve but takes comfort in the fact that her star athlete has left a legacy behind in Kings Park athletics that won’t soon be forgotten.
“Her impact on Kings Park volleyball is huge in that the sport has exploded in Kings Park due to her and our program’s success,” she said. “Every little girl in Kings Park wants to be a volleyball player now and it is wonderful to see such desire.”