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Ceman's Junior Achievement : Former Mira Costa Standout Earned Player-of-the-Year Honors at Stanford

June 03, 1993|IRENE GARCIA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Canyon Ceman enjoys the theater, is a college honors student and hopes to someday manage a company.

But for Ceman, a 20-year-old Stanford junior and former Mira Costa High player, volleyball remains the focal part of his life.

He was recently selected as the top college player by the American Volleyball Coaches Assn.

"This year there were a lot of really good volleyball players," Stanford Coach Ruben Nieves said. "But it was a senior-dominated year. Canyon was an exception. I don't think going into the season that Canyon was one of the front-runners, but I think coaches around the country were impressed with how much better he was this year than last year, and he was good last year. He was an All-American."

Ceman was also selected the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation player of the year.

"I was very surprised to get it," he said of the national player-of-the-year award. "I thought there were a lot of dominant players that would be given credit for their team's success more than me. I was hoping next year, if I had a good year I would get it."

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Ceman, who is a setter and occasional swing hitter, finished with a .361 hitting percentage and 1,202 assists. He set a school career assist record (4,028) and was second in school history for serving aces (73).

Stanford (18-6) was upset by Cal State Long Beach in the MPSF championship tournament at UC Irvine.

"I think what really helps Canyon is that he can do it all," Loyola Marymount Coach Rick McLaughlin said. "He could be an outside hitter. He's that good. Right now there's a few setters in the league that are a little bit below him, but he's by himself. He's the best setter in the league. He's definitely a player we'll be counting on come Olympic time."

Playing in the Olympics has been a longtime goal for Ceman. He is a member of the U.S. National B team and has gained international experience. He has competed in Argentina, the Pan Am Games in Cuba and the World University Games in England.

Ceman was also a member of the West team that won a gold medal at the 1989 Olympic Festival in Oklahoma. He will spend this summer training and touring with the B team.

"He's a thinker and you need that to be a good setter," said U.S. National B Team Coach Jim McLaughlin, who is also the USC men's coach. "He remembers his patterns so he always stays ahead of the game. I knew he would be one of the best setters in the country."

McLaughlin recruited Ceman, who was the setter on Mira Costa's undefeated 1990 Southern Section 4-A Division championship team.

"The key to his success is that he is so strong," Mira Costa Coach Mike Cook said. "He has a real strong build and he's a fiery competitor."

Ceman was also known for his success in the classroom. He was class valedictorian and graduated with a grade-point average higher than 4.0 because most of his courses were in the honors program.

He entered Stanford with 45 units of college credit. Ceman is on schedule to obtain a bachelors degree in economics and a masters in sociology in four years. His grade-point average at Stanford is 3.45.

Ceman plans to play in a professional Italian indoor league after the Olympics and on the pro beach tour with David Swatik, a Mira Coast teammate.

Ceman and Swatik placed ninth at the Assn. of Volleyball Profes sionals U.S. Championships in Hermosa Beach last summer. It was the best finish for a qualifying team.

Ceman is already planning for life after volleyball.

"I've prepared myself for everything that can happen in my life," he said. "I took public speaking in case I get into broadcast. I took Italian for when I play in Italy and economics in case I run my own company."

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