Connor Tipton spends a lot of time in a car. About 30,000 miles a year by his dad’s estimate.
Since he was 10, Tipton, now 18 and a senior at Sonora High School, has been on a travelling soccer team.
And all those miles have paid off.
Earlier this year he signed a letter of intent to play soccer at UC Davis. It’s another step in his soccer journey and one he’s worked hard for.
Tipton started playing soccer when he was 6 with the Tuolumne County Youth Soccer League.
“I just loved to be outdoors,” said Tipton. “I just love the high paced movement of it. It’s exciting to watch and play.”
From there he was picked for a traveling team.
He playing on a U-10 team out of Oakdale for several years, and his talent for the sport got him noticed by increasingly higher levels of play.
He’s now playing for Galt FC, a Nor Cal Premier League club. The team is made up of players from around the valley.
And they play teams across the United States.
“Once you’re at that level you have to continue to be successful,” said Connor Tipton’s dad Shane.
Shane Tipton is the director of oncology services at Adventist Health Sonora.
Three nights a week, Connor Tipton and his dad, drive the hour and 45 minutes or so to Galt for practice.
Most Saturdays there are two games.
And Tipton plays for much of the year.
“We’ve hit every restaurant between here and Sacramento,” said Shane Tipton with a laugh.
In the car Connor Tipton spends time catching up on sleep. He studies, listens to music. And he talks with his dad.
“We talk a lot,” said Shane Tipton.
All that travelling has been worth it though.
When it came time for the decision about where to go to college, Tipton had an impressive list of choices.
Santa Clara, Cal Berkeley, Sacramento State and others came calling.
But a freshman experience helped Tipton decide.
He went to a soccer camp at UC Davis where he was named MVP.
He caught the eye of the coaching staff.
“They really connected with Connor,” said Shane Tipton.
So this fall he’ll become an Aggie.
The team plays in the Big West, known as one of the toughest divisions in the country.
The chance to play close to home was also a factor,” said Shane Tipton.
For Connor Tipton, learning he had an offer from UC Davis was overwhelming.
“I didn’t really have any words to say,” he said. “It made me proud of myself. It was a really big moment for me and my family.”
The key word there for Connor Tipton is family. Family is important, he said. His mom, Keri, also spends a lot of time driving. Tipton’s younger brother Tyler, 14, is on a travel soccer team, too. And he has a younger sister, Paige, who is 12.
He knows everyone has invested in his success.
“I try to help them in any way I can,” he said. That can mean grocery shopping or picking up his brother and sister. And of course, washing the family cars.
Tipton plans to major in business. And hopes to use the lessons he’s learned on the pitch to continue his success.
Soccer is about staying focused, he said.
“Whatever you do you give 110 percent,” he said. “You’re not going to have any regrets.”