AYER – For Ayer-Shirley Regional senior Tori Salmon, it was an opportunity that she couldn’t pass up.
Before a large collection of family, friends, and coaches, Salmon recently put pen to paper and signed her National Letter of Intent to attend Reinhardt University in Georgia, where she will play flag football for the university. Salmon made it official during a brief letter signing ceremony inside the school’s gymnasium. “I know that she is heavily involved and passionate about the sport and that’s awesome. She is going to have an opportunity to continue to play and do something that she loves to do at the college level is pretty special,” said Ayer-Shirley Regional School District Athletic Director Steve Kendall at the conclusion of the ceremony. “To my knowledge, she is the first female in this area to receive any type of scholarship for flag football.”
Established in 1883, Reinhardt University is a private university in Waleska, Georgia. Reinhardt is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The Eagle's athletic teams compete primarily in the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC). The school sponsors nine men's teams and nine women’s teams and one co-op team during the school year.
“I’m at a loss for words, I really am. I’m excited and looking forward to what’s next,” said Salmon. “At the same time, I’m nervous. It’s down in Georgia but I think it’s the best decision for me. I can’t believe the number of people that came out today to support me. I’m happy, it’s a special day.” After a brief speech from Kendall, Salmon took her seat at the gym’s basketball scorer’s table. The table is decorated with Reinhardt University signs and memorabilia. Salmon, flanked by family members, spoke to the crowd to express her thanks to everyone who has helped her get to where she is today. Salmon then signed her letter before receiving a large cheer from the gathered crowd.
“It was a tough decision. I received the scholarship offer back in February. I want to play flag football and I wanted to explore a different area and experience something and somewhere new,” said Salmon. “There’s a lot to do down there and it’s exciting the thought of having the chance to create new memories while furthering my education.”
Salmon plans to major in Pre-Medical Physical Therapy with a minor in Pre-Medical Biology. A lifelong Ayer resident, Salmon began playing organized flag football for an all-girls team in Leominster in 2017. The team played its games at Doyle Field in Leominster and to say she enjoyed herself would be an understatement.
“I absolutely loved it,” said Salmon. “The president of the league at the time asked me if I would be interested in playing for a travel team and playing in tournaments and I said yes. I’ve been playing ever since.”
Kendall was thrilled to see so many come out to support Salmon for her letter signing.
“To have as many people come out and support Tori on her signing day is pretty special. I was involved in a few at my previous school and we had some good turnouts but we didn’t have as many as we did today,” said Kendall. “It says a lot about the type of person that she is. To have so many people come out and support her is really special. We wish her the best next year when she begins a new chapter in her life.”