Mike Slivka, a 2020 graduate of Upper Dublin High School, was a two-time first team All-SOL American Conference selections at quarterback. As a junior, Slivka led the Flying Cardinals to the conference crown as well as a District One 5A title. The Cardinals were looking to defend those two titles the following year, but in UD’s third game, Slivka – who had already thrown for six touchdowns while the Cardinals scored over 100 points – went down with an injury that was diagnosed as a torn ACL, and he was lost for the season. Opposing coaches had so much respect for Slivka that they voted him first team all-league despite playing just three games.
As a result of his injury, Slivka – on the wish list of numerous colleges – saw some of the colleges lose interest, but Colgate stuck with him. On Sept. 17, he returned to the area when Colgate travelled to the University of Pennsylvania. The junior linebacker was second on the team with eight tackles (1 TFL) in Colgate's 25-14 loss to Penn.
Geanine Jamison was at the game, capturing Slivka in action and kindly sharing the photos with SuburbanOneSports.com. Mike was willing to share about his experiences in the Q&A below.
SuburbanOneSports.com: What was the journey that led you to playing at Colgate after missing out on your senior season with a torn ACL?
Mike Slivka: “Before my senior season, I was being recruited by a handful of Division 1 programs for quarterback or for defense. After discussions with them, most told me to play my first three games and we would speak again after that, and hopefully, it would be up from there. Unfortunately, in my third game against Hatboro Horsham was when I suffered my knee injury. Most schools eventually shied away because of that, but Colgate was with me through everything. At the time, Coach (Stan) Dakosty, who is our head coach now, was recruiting me and was in touch with me through my whole recovery and eventually offered me a chance to play at Colgate.
“No matter what happened with my knee, I believe I would’ve ended up at Colgate 10 times out of 10, and I am blessed every day that I was able to receive an opportunity to play for Coach Dakosty. The process was extremely hard, working my whole life to unfortunately have my senior year end early. Through the recovery process, COVID also had hit us, so I wasn’t in the best place for a while, but I managed to get out of bed every morning and keep my eyes on my goals and I didn’t want to let anyone down including myself. I remember as soon as Coach Dakosty told me I had a spot on the team, I called him right back and told him I was coming, and the rest is history from there. No place I’d rather be than Colgate.”
SuburbanOneSports.com: Was there anything you would point to in terms of how you made it to the next level?
Mike Slivka: “There are plenty of things I would point to. First, I would point to my faith - I would never have made it anywhere without my faith. It was what got me up in the morning and what kept me working so hard. All Glory to God. Secondly, I would point to my family. I would not be in the position I am today without my parents. They did everything in their power to see me live out my dreams, and there aren’t words that can describe how grateful I am for them. My parents are the reason I have an opportunity to go to play football and even go to college. My siblings too, I’ve always looked up to my older brothers, Ben and Dev, and I’ve always tried to be a role model to my younger sister, Julia.
“More specifically, my brother Dev has been an inspiration to always keep going. He has a severe form of cerebral palsy and is unable to walk or talk. He has gone through countless surgeries, and he still manages to smile over the simplest things. I feel as if I’m able to live out the life he never received, and whenever I think of giving up, I think of him.
“I would also say that my friends and coaches played a huge role. My coaches in high school were unbelievable, and I am still in touch with them to this day. My friends have always been there for me and have helped me through so much. They have been nothing but a blessing to me. I would also say that my teammates at Colgate - who I would consider my brothers - have helped me, and my coaches at Colgate. Even though they are considered to be at the next level, those guys were always there for me when I needed someone and have played a major role in my continuing to play at the next level. I would not be at the next level if it wasn’t for all these people who inspired me and who supported me and helped me through everything.”
SuburbanOneSports.com: What role- if any- did your high school football experience play in your journey to the next level?
Mike Slivka: “I was very blessed to be on such an amazing team in high school. We had many seasons of being able to play deep into the playoffs, and I think being able to get experience as a sophomore was extremely helpful. I had amazing coaches who were very talented at what they did and loved what they did and put me in the best positions to succeed. I think the experience of being part of a brotherhood has also played a huge role in my journey to the next level. I made brothers for life and those people have helped me continue to reach for my potential. Being a part of something special in high school has allowed me to be a great teammate at the next level and the opportunity to be a leader. My high school experience helped me in many ways – my coaches, teammates, friends but, most importantly, because I just love football.”
SuburbanOneSports.com: What was the high point of your college journey? What was the low point? Did you ever think of walking away?
Mike Slivka: “I don’t really believe I’ve reached a high point in my college journey yet. I believe the sky is the limit and that it will only continue to get better and better with the more work I put in and the more experience I get.
“My freshman year was an extremely low point in my life because I re-injured my knee in the fall and we were still in a pandemic so we had no season and our first year of college really wasn’t college. There have been days in my career where I have thought about taking the easy way out, but every time I remember why I play. I love football and I love playing this game, but it was more than just about me, it was way bigger than me. I could never quit on my teammates or my family or my friends or my faith. I kept my faith through everything and if the thought of walking away ever crossed my mind it simply only made me work harder. I have plenty of people to thank for helping me get through such a hard point in my life and those people know who they are. I am extremely blessed to be in the position I am today, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, I am so thankful for everyone and everything that helped me make it to the next level and stay at the next level.”
(SuburbanOneSports would be interested in other SOL grads sharing their stories. If you have someone who would be interested, please reach out to us at SuburbanOneSports@comcast.net.)