EHS senior scores in the pool, helps direct student life

Phillip Brents

Fri October 30, 2015 2:50pm

Eastlake High School senior Mitchell Lannom hit home runs as a youth baseball player at Sweetwater Valley Little League; he’s now cheering on his two younger brothers in the sport while also finding time to score goals for the school’s water polo team and serve as vice president of the school’s Associated Student Body. The experience has made him a natural leader both in the pool and on campus.
“I’m having fun but at times it stacks up and it’s a lot to handle,” Mitchell explained. “Getting it done can be difficult. But when it’s over, it feels great.”
Mitchell has played water polo for three years after a final fling with baseball as a freshman. Younger brothers Wyatt, a freshman at Eastlake High School, and Walker, an Eastlake Middle School student, have already made their mark in the youth baseball world.
Wyatt led the 12U Sweetwater Valley Little League all-star team to a runner-up finish in the Southern California South Division III tournament — two steps away from the LLWS West Region tournament — two years ago.
Walker led this summer’s Sweetwater Valley 12U all-stars to a history-making appearance in the Little League World Series. Sweetwater Valley finished third in the United States championship playoffs; Walker finished as the U.S. player with the most hits in the tournament.
“Every time I heard that Walker had hit a home run I would get excited and that made me work extra hard during practice,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell, Wyatt and Walker are the sons of Ward and Kelly Lannom. Ward played baseball at Hilltop High School, wining a CIF championship in 1985. Kelly attended Bonita Vista High School and excelled in horseback riding. The entire family keeps active by enjoying wakeboarding together.
All three boys were selections to Sweetwater Valley Little League all-star teams every year they were eligible. At the moment, Mitchell is the one who is wearing the most hats among the three brothers. His cap number on the water polo team is two.
“Baseball was always my main sport from 6 years old to a freshman in high school,” Mitchell explained. “It was the best experience. Every year I would look forward to competing in all-stars. I could play with my friends and practice with them every day.”
The water polo bug bit him, however, after his cousin Nathan Niehaus became a standout in the sport and urged him to play.
“It’s definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Mitchell admitted. “But I enjoy it because it makes hard work seem easier.” He is one of nine seniors on this year’s team. Understandably, the leadership has been spread around.
“It’s definitely different now,” Mitchell explained. “In the past, we’d have one big guy who was in charge due to the lack of seniors. But this year, because we have so many seniors, all the seniors have taken on the responsibility to be leaders.”
This strength in numbers may be the team’s best attribute. “This group is really special because we all are best friends outside the pool,” Mitchell explained. “We hang out at lunch and after school pretty much all the time.”
“I have confidence that everyone can do their job. Teamwork is about everyone doing their job and, if everyone does their job, the team wins.”
Involvement in sports serves as a training ground for life skills. Mitchell admits he’s proud Wyatt has also chosen to play water polo. “He has a lot of potential,” Mitchell noted.
This year, Mitchell is serving as ASB vice-president after serving as a business ambassador last year. His involvement in ASB has helped his social skills, he said. As a business ambassador, he was responsible for obtaining sponsorship for the school’s football games.
“You have to be able to talk to people, you definitely can’t be shy,” he said. His duties as ASB vice president include managing the finances of the school’s on-campus clubs.
“I need to approve fund-raising for the clubs, each club has their own account and I managed the money that goes in and out of the accounts,” he explained. There are about 80 clubs on campus, so it’s somewhat time-consuming and demands intricate management skills.
“We have major functions throughout the year when my duties go up,” he said. “You have to have some leadership abilities, you have to be friendly and knowledgeable of the students at school.”
He’s also a member of the school’s student site council, one of three students selected to meet with the school’s principal and assistant principals in reviewing activities to improve student life on campus.
Mitchell would like to attend a four-year university and major in engineering. He’s looking into attending either UCLA or Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. “I love physics, I’m good in math and science,” he said.
Eastlake High School water polo coach Austin Legg, himself an EHS alumnus, has no doubt that the eldest Lannom sibling will be successful in life.
“Enthusiasm is his top quality,” the Titan coach said. “He comes in and always gives it 120 percent. We have a really good group of kids. They’ve all grown up together. It’s like a true family. We bicker with each other, we push each other, hold each other accountable … it’s what makes us better. Mitchell is a go-getter. He does really well with his grades in school and is an all-around leader. It’s not easy for him to take a back seat.”