WILLIAMSBURG — Connor Salyer, a Jamestown High School (JHS) soccer player, has recently committed to play for the University of Virginia (UVA) Men’s Soccer team in 2023.
“I couldn’t be more grateful and blessed to have the opportunity,” said Salyer in an interview with WYDaily. “They’ve treated me super well.”
The third-year defender, whose high school jersey bares the number 14, was born and raised in Williamsburg. The homegrown talent started playing soccer at around the age of 12 after making a switch over from his original focus, baseball; a sport his father played in college for Virginia Tech. Salyer said that getting to this point was the result of working hard and staying focused.
“I’ve always wanted to play at a collegiate level. Division One especially. I always wanted to play 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 soccer I was pretty bad. I started on the lowest team and worked my way up all the way to the top team in the season. I guess my motivation has been to like 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 that he’s had thus far. His family in addition to his travel coach, Michael Boyko, had a big influence on Salyer’s success on and off the pitch.
“From the second I joined the soccer community. He’s [Coach Boyko] always been like the nat in my ear,” said Salyer. “Always driving me to work harder and be a better person and be a better player. I honestly kind of look up to him kind of like a second dad, to be honest. We have a really good relationship. He’s definitely impacted me to work harder.”
Getting to play at the collegiate level is already a challenge for many aspiring athletes. In addition to working out six days a week both in the gym and on the soccer field, Salyer had to overcome his own personal challenges. His father, who had a deep influence on Connor’s work ethic, recently passed away after a battle with cancer.
“I’ve really struggled mental health-wise. My dad got sick with cancer while I was in high school. Actually, he passed away recently,” said Salyer. “It’s been really hard balancing school, soccer, and him, but the student-athlete life at Jamestown has been great. The staff was super understanding, and helpful, and made sure I succeeded. The biggest thing is being able to still succeed.”
As Salyer nears the end of his high school soccer career, he says that he’ll always remember his team and JHS soccer’s unique post-game rituals.
“The biggest thing I’m going to remember about high school is giving pickles to our coach after every game,” said Salyer jokingly. “You know how there’s a man of the match? Instead of you getting a match ball, it’s pickles. It’s a team ritual we have. You get pickles if you’re a man of the match. That’s how we roll at Jamestown I guess!”
The process of receiving an offer from UVA took about three months from when Salyer originally reached out to them with game film and other information. What he didn’t know was that one of the coaches at UVA already saw him play at a tournament in Richmond called the Jefferson Cup.
The UVA coach contacted Coach Boyko and roughly two weeks after that, the athletic director at UVA gave Salyer a call and offered him a scholarship to play for the school.
Salyer’s official signing day is Feb. 2, 2022. He plans to get a four-year degree and may continue on with medical school. He says that, as he moves forward to the next stage in his soccer career, he now plays for his dad.