Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak isn’t afraid to go out on a limb. By the time she was six years old, she had already proudly declared that she wanted to be an Olympian.
It was the summer of 1984 in Northern California, and just about six hours down the pike were Los Angeles and the Olympics. At her family’s home in San Ramon, Roberts Sahaydak became captivated by the athletes on her television. Something about the world’s greatest athletes competing in the world’s most prestigious competition sparked her desire.
“It just lit a little fire or something,” said Roberts Sahaydak, co-head coach of the VCU Women’s Soccer team. “From that Olympics on, that was always my go-to thing. When someone would ask, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’[It was always] ‘oh, I’m going to be an Olympian.”
Roberts Sahaydak says she was wowed by American gymnast Mary Lou Retton’s perfect 10 and the star power of track and field’s Jackie Joyner-Kersee. The Roberts family even traveled to the Bay Area to take in a men’s soccer game, feeding little Tiffany’s growing interest. Tiffany was a gymnast. Tiffany ran track. She also played soccer.
In grade school, when asked to draw a picture of what she would grow up to be, Roberts Sahaydak would dream of Olympic glory. One particular school project displayed an oversized gold medal, as well as three little Tiffanys, each competing in a different sport, track, gymnastics and soccer.
“I just wanted to be the best at something, and I wanted to have that gold medal,” she said.