I loved this story. Sometimes as members of the Church we feel shy about sharing
our religion. Yet, here is a man who was simply given a book by a friend and it
changed so much in his life. It led him to Utah. It led him to his future wife.
It led him to Argentina. Thank you for sharing his story, Vai.
My senior year in High School, Bobby Salazar was an assistant football coach.
We loved him and his husky dog named "Blue". None of us knew anything
of his background except that he was an ex-BYU football player and had once
tried out with the Bronco's. I loved hearing this story about him. Wish we
would have known this back in 1984-85.
Vai you need to write a book- great stories and you tell them masterfully
A good and inspiring story, but I don't believe the part about the letter to the
IRS or the part about him not knowing (when he converted) that BYU might be a
good fit for a Mormon football player.
Really great story! Thanks Vai!! My uncle Jimmy, a top high school wrestler in
California, and AAU Junior National Champion, received a wrestling scholarship
to BYU in the late 70's, but left after only one season due to an injury. After
many years, he went back to school at the U and received a sports medicine
degree which he used as a trainer in the Phillies organization for several years
before leaving that to pursue other interests. Anyway, my point was supposed to
be that BYU used to get some of the top wrestling talent in the country, not
only Utah, and it is a shame that they continue to be absent from the sport. I
realize that the school cannot support every interest that potential students
might have, but I read your story about the Salazars, I couldn't help but wonder
how many more wrestlers out there are "Cougars in their hearts". Kudos to the Salazars for living true to their values. Theirs is a truly
inspiring story, and I agree with a previous commenter who said that it should
be an ESPN story. Maybe with the new BYU/ESPN connection...??? See what you can
Great story and great write-up. I wonder if stories like this will make BYU
reconsider scrapping wrestling along with men's gymnastics. Those were bad
decisions by an administration that is now gone (Val Hale) and forgotten.
Wrestling was on the upswing and would likely be a top program now with the
quality coaching staff they had and the improved recruiting classes they were
getting. Men's gymnastics was always strong.
What I love about this is that Salazar is not the "typical" hero
story. He has a background that is convoluted, and worked extremely hard to make
a life for himself and his family. Salazar shows that life is not
always a Cinderella story, but an actual story of self-worth and tremendous
growth. Thanks for sharing, Vai!
I am always glad that I read your posts Vai! If Bob's brother is the Al Salazar
that I have watched coach AAU basketball over the years, I finally understand
the last name! I have wanted to ask why the red hair and the latin name-I have
to say that as a family we were always impressed with Al's family at basketball
games. His cute daughter was always sitting right by her dad keeping stats
while his son played great basketball-mom screaming in the stands. I heard Mike
is playing basketball at Westminster since his mission. Your article is great
proof that family and sports can develop character and the Spirit-way to go the
Salazar's. You are what you decide to be.Oh, my wife wanted to mention
that Julie must be more that pretty to have made it possible for her husband to
do all of those great things-behind every great man...
Vai, you know better than to get a cheesesteak from anywhere but JIM's. Even the
Cranky Flyer named Jim's best. I've eaten there since 1980 and it's the best
food in the entire world. Invest in one of your kids and open a Vai's
"Real Philly" Cheesesteaks in Provo, near campus, use real thin sliced
round steak and Cheese Whiz, not slices of cheese. I have never found anything
close to a Philly Cheesesteak outside Philly. I stayed at the Crown Plaza for 2
months as a trainer for Merck, and this 4 or 5 star hotel 5 or 6 blocks from
South Street made a cheesesteak that tasted like saw dust with onions. Oh, Jim's
buns are the best too. Put down a few Bookbinders (not the original BB) $75
lobsters for me.
Great story. I, too, would love to see wrestling return to BYU.
Great blog Vai! We have lost contact with many wonderful friends from Bishop
Burgi's ward at Wymount Terrace at BYU, including Bobby and Julie. It was a
great place to be, sharing the same experiences with the other newly married
students. Our children are now having their own experiences at BYU and loving
it. It's one of the reasons we'll always be Cougars!
Great story and well written. a winner like Via.
Great story. Thanks!
Thanks for the great Article Vai! Please pass on to Bobby Salazar, our greetings
from Yakima Wa. and Lake Chelan where we retired. My son Mike Riggin and Rocky
Winters served with him in Argentina. Mike and Julie ( Byers) were classmates,
at West Valley High School in Yakima.When Mike told Bobby that he was from
Yakima, Bobby said that ," WOW,I have been dating a girl from Yakima WA By
the name of Julie Byers" They were both astonished!The rest is history.Best
Regards to you and to Bobby and Julie. We really enjoy your amazing articles.
Keep them coming, as I am married to the former Maile Forsythe of Haleiwa HI.and
we enjoyed your Poly. stories and common friends that you have mentioned.Don and
If all of the UTAH athletes that competed at this year's NCAA wrestling
championships were all one team, they would have placed fourth in the NCAA
tournament. That's even a better finish than Jimmer and Company. In 1973 BYU
finished fourth in the NCAA Wrestling Championships.Unfortunately
BYU dropping its wrestling program came at a horrible time. For the last 10-15
years Utah prep wrestling has been extremely good. It took UVU seven years
(because of NCAA regulations) to field a wrestling team where they would be
eligible for a NCAA title. BYU"s last All-American in wrestling (Aaron
Holker) left BYU after it dropped the program and won a NCAA title with Iowa
State wrestling with Cael Sanderson (like the Salazars of Utah wrestling fame).
UVU in its second year of being able to compete finished 30th in this
year's NCAA tournament. Utah has too many great wrestlers for just one program
and if BYU brought wrestling back, got the right coach, and put some resources
behind the program, they would be a national powerhouse easy, just like they
I agree with the comments made by Eagle. BYU, and other Utah-based
universities, should be fielding a wrestling team instead of allowing first-rate
LDS athletes to attend other schools.Outstanding story about the
Salazar story, it is just a shame that one cannot choose both BYU and a career
in wrestling at the same time.
Thanks for another fantastic story!
Very interesting article. It should definitely be submitted to SI and/or
ESPN.The family history and story of overcoming as well as the
accomplishments of the boys is very interesting. Reminds me of the Banach
brothers from where I grew up but they didn't wrestle the same weight and no
Awesome article. I too wish BYU still had a wrestling program. I
have hoped that BYU would pick up women's lacrosse or something, so they could
bring it back as a sportand still obey Title IX requirements. BYU had an
awesome coach in Mark Schultz. He is the real deal.
So wonderful to read about people who come from humble circumstances and succeed
against great odds. What a testament that we are all children of God, God is no
respecter of persons, loves each unconditionally, and we are all equal before
him. Thanks for a wonderful article about a terrific family!
Well done, Vai...thanks so much. I know the man and his family and you capture
both their goodness and their greatness. Keep up the good work!
And it is very sad BYU scrapped the wrestling program. In that photo is three
great wrestlers in the Salazar boys and Ethan Smith. Four other Utah wrestlers
were All-Americans this season including a runner-up a the NCAA meet. Oh well.This was a great story BTW!
AWESOME article. A tear jerker, It's evident that Bobby Salazar took great
pleasure in doing things others said he couldn't do.
Nice article Vai. It was nice getting to know a little more about
Bobby. I worked at UVRMC in Provo form '93-'97. I worked as a physical therapy
aide and Bobby was running the cardiac rehab program there at the time. I knew
him by name only and someone had mention to me once that he had played football
for BYU and the Denver Broncos and that he had raced in the Ididitrod. You're
blog filled me in some on things I didn't know about Bobby previously. Thanks
for the blogs Vai. I really appreciated the series you did on missions a few