Rams Soccer Academy
Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak
Co-Head Women's Soccer Coach
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.
Co-Head Women's Soccer Coach
Most kids growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia are engulfed in football, baseball and basketball from an early age. Sahaydak was different, he chose to dive head first into soccer, which took him to places that most people only dream of reaching.
Soccer took him all over the world while playing professionally, it gave him an education at North Carolina and it helped him meet his wife and “co-worker”, Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak.
Now entering his sixth season as the Co-Head Coach of the VCU women’s soccer program, not much has changed for the 33-year-old native of Bethlehem, Pa., soccer is still his life.
“I think Tiff and I are both products of the environments we’ve been in,” Sahaydak said. “We’ve been fortunate to have been coached by some extraordinary coaches and to have played with some great people. We have the advantage of seeing things that did work and things that didn’t.”
The duo’s impact was felt immediately, leading the Rams to an 11-8-3 mark and a date in the CAA Championship game, with a roster of just 13 healthy players.
“The first year was something that we will never forget,” he 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.”
“I can’t tell you how excited I am about the future of the program under their leadership,” said Norwood T. Teague, VCU’s former Director of Athletics. “Since their arrival, they have done all the right things. For two people who had never coached at the Division I level, their growth has been significant. They were more prepared for this job than I even thought they were.”
Sahaydak rose quickly through the national soccer community, earning spots on the U-18 and U-20 national teams and gaining a scholarship to join the Tar Heels for the 1995 season.
In 1997, he was granted the opportunity to become, at the time, the youngest player to ever play on Major League Soccer when he played for the Columbus Crew. He spent two seasons with the club. He then joined the Miami Fusion for three seasons than the reserve squads for FC Dallas and DC United.
After his playing career came to a close, he returned to Chapel Hill and completed his degree in communications/rhetorical studies.
“It is interesting. As a player, I always responded to that type of coaching, that individual coaching, much better than I did having a coach stand up in front of the group,” Tim said. “I just kind of melded into that. Tiff is wonderfully talented as a motivator. She’s great at getting up in front of a group.”
“It’s not like I can’t instruct and he can’t motivate,” Tiffany said. “Tim can but he’s fine with stepping back and letting me take that role. That is kind of what has gotten me through my career, having a really positive outlook on everything. I’m more outspoken about those things and more comfortable with that.”
The duo currently resides in Richmond’s Historic Fan District with their two daughters, Layla and Evie.