WILLIAMSBURG – Connor Salyer, a Jamestown High School (JHS) footballer, recently pledged to play for the University of Virginia (UVA) Men’s soccer team in 2023.
“I couldn’t be more grateful and blessed to have this opportunity,” Salyer said in an interview with WYDaily. “They treated me really well.”
The third-year defenseman, whose high school jersey is numbered 14, was born and raised in Williamsburg. The local talent started playing football around the age of 12 after moving from his original goal of baseball; a sport his father played in college Virginie Tech. Salyer said getting to this point is the result of hard work and staying focused.
“I’ve always wanted to play at a college level. Division One in particular. I’ve always wanted to play in Division One, and honestly UVA was like a dream school for me, ”said Salyer. “For me, I’ve always wanted to work hard. When I first started playing football I was pretty bad. I started in the lowest team and worked my way up to the best team of the season. I guess my motivation was loving to prove to myself that I can work hard and to prove to others that it’s never too late to start.
Salyer credits his support system for the success he has had so far. His family, in addition to his travel coach, Michael Boyok, had a big influence on Salyer’s success on and off the pitch.
“From the second, I joined the football community. It is [Coach Boyko] always been like the nat in my ear, ”Salyer said. “Always pushed me to work harder and be a better person and a better player. Honestly, I admire him a bit like a second dad, to be honest. We have a very good relationship. He definitely made me work harder.
Learning to play at the college level is already a challenge for many aspiring athletes. In addition to training six days a week in the gym and on the soccer field, Salyer has had to overcome his own personal challenges. His father, who had a profound influence on Connor’s work ethic, recently passed away after a battle with cancer.
“I really struggled for my sanity. My dad got sick with cancer while I was in high school. In fact, he passed away recently, ”Salyer said. “It was very difficult balancing school, football and him, but life as a student-athlete in Jamestown has been great. The staff were super understanding and helpful, and made sure I was successful. The most important thing is to be able to still succeed.
As Salyer nears the end of his high school football career, he says he will always remember his team’s unique post-game rituals and JHS football.
“The most important thing I’ll remember from high school is giving our coach pickles after every game,” Salyer said jokingly. “Do you know there’s a man of the match?” Instead of having a match point, it’s pickles. It’s a team ritual that we have. You get pickles if you’re the man of the match. This is how we drive in Jamestown, I guess!
The process of receiving a UVA offer took about three months from when Salyer initially contacted them with a game movie and other information. What he didn’t know was that one of the AVU coaches had seen him play at a tournament in Richmond called the Jefferson Cup.
The UVA coach contacted Coach Boyko and about two weeks later the UVA athletic director called Salyer and offered him a scholarship to play for the school.
Salyer’s official signing day is February 2, 2022. He plans to earn a four-year degree and may continue his medical education. He says that as he takes the next step in his football career he is now playing for his father.
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