Manchester University / Alumni / Living the dream

Living the Dream

salazar-large
Michael Salazar ’98 didn’t get the fairy tale ending. But he does get to keep the fairy tale life.

In an historic World Series that ended in an epic Game 7, the Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in 10 innings, winning the Series 4-games-to-3 and ending 108 famously arid years. And as they formed the celebratory dogpile on the mound in Cleveland’s Progressive Field, Salazar was forced to contemplate what might have been instead of what was.

An assistant athletic trainer for the Indians since 2012, Salazar, a Huntington native who came up through the ranks much as the players do, starting out in Single A and eventually ascending to the big club from Triple-A Columbus, Ohio, where he was the head trainer. It has, for Salazar been a magical journey – particularly this latest leg.

“I think I took in every moment,” he says of the Indians’ playoff run, which began with them sweeping Boston and then knocking out Toronto in five games. “Every moment in the playoffs, every game whether it was a win or a loss … you’re in Boston, you’re in Fenway Park, you know, you’re in Toronto. It’s just like every moment has its own special feeling, and it will never go away.”

It’s a feeling he owes as much to chance – and ill fate – as anything. He came to Manchester from Huntington North High School as a wrestler, but an injury ended that path. At the same time, however, it opened a new one, as the time Salazar spent in the trainer’s room sparked an interest in athletic training, and he applied his sophomore year and “became fascinated by it.”

“Then as I started, that opened up the door to other things, and I kind of got my foot in the door in baseball,” says Salazar, 41, who speaks both English and Spanish and interned with the Atlanta Braves while getting his master’s degree from the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

He credits Manchester with providing a nurturing learning environment whose tight-knit sense of community placed a premium on personal student-teacher relationships.

“I think being in a small community and small group setting definitely was a great experience at Manchester,” Salazar says. “I was able to develop a lot of hands-on experience from the get-go and that’s one of the things I think I carried on with, being more of a hands-on therapist because of that. If it wasn’t for Manchester and the class sizes I don’t know if I would be in the position I’m in today.”

It’s a position he cherishes, no matter how the World Series turned out.

“Every time I’d go onto the field, it didn’t matter where we were heading to, that awe factor is still there,” he says. “I figure as long as that continues to be there, I want to continue to be in the game.”

By Benjamin Smith