By Mike Deak
SYRACUSE – You wouldn’t know it from just watching from afar, but Kam Salazar is hyper competitive. Super chill in the dugout, super chill as a point guard, hands the ball to the referee in football.
It would be hard to imagine that someone who just grins and says, “yeaaah, I mean…” when asked about being a North-South All-Star in baseball would also be labeled by one of his coaches as “Possibly one of the greatest athletes ever to walk these halls.”
Welcome to the super chill life of Wawasee senior Kam Salazar, our InkFreeNews Athlete of the Year.
It took four years of high school sports coverage to hear Salazar say anything adverse about an opponent, and that finally came 29 games into his final high school baseball season. Not to say he never did as a competitive high schooler, but it fits the mold of what so many others saw in the three-sport athlete from Syracuse.
Salazar time and again was given positive reviews from opposing coaches, referees, athletic directors and IHSAA spotters for his sportsmanship. It didn’t matter if it was in a heated win or lopsided loss. And anyone who knows Kam’s grandma, Rosa, and his dad, Joe, they don’t play around. Behavior, discipline and respect are at the forefront, which is where Salazar’s bio typically begins.
“My parents have been a big support system for me,” Kam said, referring to Joe and Yvonne Salazar. “My dad practicing with me a lot. My mom doing many unseen things, being my number one fan, and always supporting me. My friends and family show up to my games and support me no matter where I’m playing that night or what sport it is.”
Salazar was a standout in all three alpha sports at Wawasee, beginning in football where he was an IFCA All-Region and All-NLC performer having caught 41 passes for 450 yards and three touchdowns this past season. Salazar added 182 return yards and 32 rushing yards for the Warriors. As a defensive back, Salazar made 69 total stops with an interception and two fumble recoveries.
“Kam is a kid that just loves to compete,” said Wawasee football head coach Jon Reutebuch. “He was a Swiss Army knife for us in football as he was involved in all three phases of the game. He never seemed to tire or wear out. He was constantly involved in sports training, practicing, and competing in offseason competitions. It is fun to see a young man that competes at a high level in three sports. He’s not the biggest athlete, but his impact on every sport was huge.”
In basketball, Salazar ran point for the Warriors en route to a sectional semi-finals appearance. Salazar led the team in assists at nearly four per game, scored 4.5 points per night, was third on the team in rebounding bringing in three per night, and led the team in steals.
“Kam has to be not only one of the best athletes to walk these halls, but one of the best people. I really believe that to be true,” said Wawasee boys basketball head coach Jon Everingham. “His legacy links to the field and the court, but also his values within athletic play. He represented us to the best of his ability. I really think he’s one of the best true athletes Wawasee has ever had.”
As well as he performed in football and basketball, his first sport is baseball, and he was quite the performer this past season. The All-NLC infielder and pitcher was a virtual headache at the plate for opposing teams, batting .436 with a .564 OBP. He had 44 hits in 101 at-bats and added 22 walks and also was hit by nine pitches. One of the more eye-popping stats for Salazar was his rate in scoring, which he tallied 50 runs in 132 total plate appearances all told, meaning he averaged almost two runs scored per game.
Salazar had 17 extra-base hits, seven of those triples, and drove in 18 from the leadoff spot, and as important for a leadoff hitter, only struck out 12 times all season.
On the hill, he made 10 appearances with a 4-2 record, allowing just 19 earned runs in over 40 innings and struck out 36.
Salazar, who signed to continue his baseball career with Marian University, was chosen as the Region I Player of the Year, and was named a North-South All-Star by the IBCA, the first player to make the roster from Wawasee since 1997. Accordingly, 1997 was also the last time Wawasee won a sectional, which Salazar and the Warriors did in 2021, beating longtime nemesis NorthWood in the championship game.
“Kam is as true of a leader that I have seen at the high school level. Athletes of all ages gravitate to him, even those older than him at times,” said Wawasee baseball head coach Brent Doty. “I believe this is primarily due to his work ethic, character and passion. He is truly interested in every individual he comes in contact with and cares for them. As a three-sport athlete at Wawasee this allows him to reach a vast number of our athletes and positively impact them both athletically and personally. His full character is thus on display to them and demonstrates high moral and ethical values which help guide those younger athletes as they navigate high school life.”
The all-around student athlete carried a 3.55 GPA and was a Scholar Athlete in all three sports.
“It is an honor,” Salazar said of being the fourth Wawasee athlete chosen in the nine years of the award. “Many great athletes around the area, and to be chosen for this award feels great. I’ve always done well with academics and athletics evenly putting in time for each. I have put so much time and effort into it all and to be given another award for my hard work through my high school career, it’s a great way to be finishing out my high school career by receiving this award.”