|The Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak File|
Time as a Tar Heel
Time with the Stars and
Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak, a 22-year old midfielder at the time, was on the field with the rest of her 19 teammates rushing to celebrate the moment and take in the over 90,000 fans in attendance and millions across the world cheering on the team.
Although she is no longer playing, Roberts Sahaydak is engulfed in the sport she loves as she enters her seventh season as the Co-Head Coach of the VCU women’s soccer team, along with her husband, Tim.
The duo’s impact was felt immediately, leading the Rams to an 11-8-3 mark and a date in the 2007 CAA Championship game, with a roster of just 13 healthy players.
“The first year was something that we will never forget,” she said. “Not only was it our first year as head coaches, but the way our girls continued to battle and do anything we asked of them was just awesome.”
They’ve continued that upward trajectory ever since, leading VCU to back-to-back conference championship matches in 2011 (Colonial Athletic Association) and 2012 (Atlantic 10), while totaling 21 victories the past two seasons.
The duo was named CAA Co-Coaches of the Year in 2011 after going 7-1-3 in their final 11 matches. The only loss during that stretch came as a 1-0 overtime heartbreaker against nationally ranked William & Mary in the conference title game.
The Sahaydaks have also established one of the east coast’s top defensive units during their time in Richmond. In 2012, VCU ranked 22nd nationally in save percentage, while ranking 19th (2011) and 30th (2012) in goals-against average each of the past two seasons. The Rams have also posted 20 shutouts since 2011.
Their leadership has certainly been on display, having mentored two CAA Defenders of the Year, one CAA Rookie of the Year and 20 all-conference players, including six first-team honorees.
Former U.S. Soccer star Julie Foudy knew VCU made the right selection when hiring the Sahaydaks back in 2007.
“I think you have to feel like VCU just won the lottery. Twice,” said Foudy.
Foudy credits Roberts Sahaydak’s success to her ability to motivate a player and now as a coach.
“She brings the same passion for the game and for inspiring those around her to coaching,” Foudy said. “She not only teaches the skills it takes to improve, but the presence of mind it takes to be a great leader. And Tiffany would know, she was one of our very best.”
Part of being so prepared for Roberts Sahaydak came from all her years involved in the game. Growing up in San Ramon, Calif., all she wanted to do was play soccer. Having three brothers gave her plenty of people to play against, but it also made her tougher and more dedicated than ever facing them.
Her hard work and sacrifice for the game that she loved came to fruition when she stood on the Olympic podium to receive her gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics.
That’s just a brief glimpse of her success on the pitch as she was a three-time High School All-American, which helped land her a scholarship for the country’s top collegiate program, North Carolina, under the watchful eye of legendary coach, Anson Dorrance.
She was a three-time First-Team All-ACC performer for the Tar Heels, helping them to a pair of NCAA titles during her tenure. During her final season in 1998, she was voted the ACC Tournament MVP and finished third in voting for both the Hermann Trophy, given to the country’s top collegiate men’s and women’s soccer players.
Her rise through the women’s soccer ranks was strictly because of her hard work and now she wants to help motivate her players to help them reach their goals.
“In the bigger picture, Tim and I want to be mentors for this team,” she said. “We try to teach life lessons. We try to use soccer to teach them. Soccer has made me the person I am today. Our ultimate goal is to have these young women leave our program and be better and stronger women, better and stronger leaders.”
The couple currently resides in Richmond’s Historic Fan
District with their two daughters, Layla and Evie.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT TIFFANY ROBERTS SAHAYDAK
“I have been spoiled in my 30-year coaching life and one of those periods was when I had the singular privilege of training Tiffany Roberts when she played for me at the University of North Carolina. Not only was she a remarkable player, but she was an enthusiastic, passionate and upbeat leader. I enjoyed going to practice just because I knew she would be there, I could see her smiling face. I can’t think of a better way for Tiffany to spend her time than inspiring the youth. Not only will this World, Olympic, WUSA, and Collegiate Champion teach you all you need to know to become the best player you can be, but you will have fun while you are doing it.” – Anson Dorrance, North Carolina Head Coach
“Tim and Tiffany provide a unique component of soccer pedigree, knowledge of the game and a passion to do what’s right for each youngster they train. There are few coaches that can offer an Olympic Gold Medal, a World Championship and a NCAA Championship on their resume… Tiffany can; but that is only part of her story. Tim has outstanding credentials including playing professionally for MLS; playing for our U20 Men’s National Team and being part of the 2000 Olympic Player Pool. What they can impart to their players is impossible for most other coaches to duplicate.” – Tony DiCicco, former U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach
“I had the privilege of playing alongside Tiffany Roberts on the USA Women’s Soccer Team for almost a decade. The feats fans watched her perform every single day- taking players on, both offense and defense for an entire game up and down the field, her speed, her feistiness – were only a small part of what made Tiffany so great. The attribute I most admired was her leadership. She was a constant voice directing, dictating, encouraging and pushing all those around her. Tiffany had this incredible vocal ability to make you want to work harder, run faster, do more. She could not only inspire you by her relentless play but by her consistent banter telling you that ‘you can get that ball’, ‘we are going to win this game’, ‘apply pressure faster’, etc. She will bring this same passion for the game and for inspiring those around her to coaching. She will not only teach young kids the skills it takes to improve, but the presence of mind it takes to be a great leader. And Tiffany would know, she was one of our very best.” – Julie Foudy, former Captain of the US Women’s National Team
“Tim and Tiffany have both been involved in every level of the game as players, so they bring an invaluable understanding of the game and what it takes to succeed at the highest levels of soccer. The ambition, and love for the game which both of them have leave no doubt that their contribution the game now as coaches will help any player maximize their own abilities.” – John Cone, former Kansas City Wizards Assistant Coach, MLS