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Cutting Through the Competition

Mike Canney ’24
At his internship with Cutco Knives, Mike Canney ’24 was named the top seller in the Northeast region and won a free trip to Madrid. It’s that work ethic that’s also driven Canney’s success in the gym, on the field, and through life’s challenges.
By: Sarah Sweeney

While most students were still stuck on campus, daydreaming about gallivanting off to warmer parts of the country, Mike Canney ’24 was taking his spring break a week early.

Canney, a business management major with a biology minor, jetted off to Madrid on a free trip he’d won through his internship with Vector Marketing. He’s worked there every summer since his first year at Endicott—first as an intern sales representative and now as a part-time sales manager promoting Cutco Knives.

“My goal over the summer was $6,000, but I ended up selling $14,500 in three weeks,” he recalled. “That led me to be one of the number one sellers in the Northeast region, which is pretty cool.”

Canney may sound laid back about his hard work, but just like the knives he sells, he’s sharp, authentic, and all about delivering unwavering performance.

You can see that razor-sharp focus and skill on the football field, where Canney’s performance as a defensive lineman for the Gulls helped lead the team to consecutive Commonwealth Coast Championships (CCC) and NCAA appearances in 2021, 2022, and 2023.

“One of my favorite things has been developing the relationships I have within the team,” said Canney. “Seeing all the guys succeed is something that motivates me because we have so many guys who are hungry for success.”

In Madrid, Canney enjoyed the spoils of his success alongside his girlfriend, exercise science major Grace Kolis ’24.

“We saw all the sights,” he said. “We did a tour of the Royal Palace. The architecture was unbelievable. We got some great street food—saw some good vendors—had some oysters, a few nice dinners.” Not to mention the museums, long city strolls, shopping, and renting a row boat in Retiro Park.

Cosmopolitan Madrid is a far cry from Dracut, Mass., where Canney grew up on the family farm among chickens, goats, turkeys, ducks, and a whole lot of cats and dogs.

“We get fresh eggs all the time, from regular chicken eggs to goose eggs,” he said. “I eat six eggs every morning, so it’s nice just to walk down and grab them and have myself an omelet every morning.”

Protein fuels Canney, who went from being a skinny high schooler to competing in the 2023 NPC Connecticut Grand Prix bodybuilding competition, where he placed fourth in the Men's Classic Physique–True Novice category.

“I’ve always had a passion for weightlifting,” said Canney, who called working out an escape. “Exercise isn’t hard for me—that’s what I want to do.”

Mike Canney ’24

But don’t dare try and pigeonhole Canney as some brawny bodybuilder with no substance.

Growing up with a single mother and a little sister with Down syndrome, Canney learned early the power of compassion and humanity.

“Empathy was always one of my values, and to respect and treat others how you’d want to be treated,” he said. “One of my main goals in life is to be a trustworthy person who is there for people when they don’t have somebody to be there for them. Building a sense of trust in relationships with my clients or anybody that I talk to is something that I try to do always.”

Canney’s authenticity, and his dedication to making genuine connections with the people he meets, is exactly how he made lifetime sales of more than $40,000 with Cutco as a salesman and more than $300,000 in lifetime sales as a manager.

But with summer on the way, Canney is now focused on another season with Cutco. He’s also entertaining a job offer with the company; this time, to oversee an entire region. But first, there’s football, where the chance to lead the Gulls to another CCC championship—and beyond—could make history for Endicott.

“Every year we get so close to setting history,” he said. “How bad do you want it is the mindset, and God willing, we’re going to make it past that first round and to an NCAA championship appearance.”

When Canney sets his mind to something, there’s no stopping him. He works hard at the gym, at school (he maintains a 3.5 GPA), at his internships and jobs, and on Instagram, where he’s grown his followers to more than 2,600 and inks the occasional deal with fitness and lifestyle brands.

But come graduation in December 2024, Canney envisions pivoting into pharmaceutical sales, making enough money to eventually purchase a plot of land someplace warmer, someplace where he can start his own family farm.

“I have this unrelenting desire to be better than I was yesterday,” he said. “There’s times where I think to myself, ‘I could take the easy route.’ But one of my biggest fears is looking back and seeing what I could’ve been if I’d worked just a little bit harder—that’s one of the things that fuels me.”