Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak &
|Graduate Assistant Coach
|Volunteer Assistant Coach
The women on the Virginia Commonwealth University women’s soccer team don’t have to look very far to see an excellent example of teamwork.
They’re led by one.
Tim Sahaydak and Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak share much more than a name and a household. Both are former standouts in highly successful programs at the University of North Carolina. Both have international playing experience. Both have professional playing experience.
They also share a job. They are the co-head coaches of the VCU women’s team. It is not just a title. The responsibilities truly are shared.
“It really is a wonderful collaboration,” Tiffany said. “We didn’t know how it was going to work when we took the job. It wasn’t like we had a meeting and said, ‘These are your duties, these are mine, you sit here, I sit there.’ Tim and I are a good team. We complement each other. We naturally gravitated to our strengths.”
Said Tim, “There’s a lot of things we echo and share but we also have two very different personalities. There’s always one of us the players can go to, whether they need their confidence built up or they need to be motivated or challenged. It’s nice for them to have that.”
If not coaching, Tiffany would likely be a motivational speaker. She has, in fact, done some of that. Tim would probably be a teacher. She’s more talkative, he’s more reserved. The talks to the team before a game have become Tiffany’s duty. Calling a player aside during a game to discuss some strategy or make some alterations is more likely to be done by Tim.
As a player, Tim was more technical. Tiffany admits that was not her strength. Sure, she had skill but it was heart and passion that took her to the top levels.
“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. In a past life, she could have been in the military. 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.”
Tiffany was a four-time all-ACC selection at UNC and played on two NCAA champions. She had a 10-year career as a member of the U.S. national team. She was on the teams that won the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the 1999 World Cup. She was also an inaugural member of the Women’s United Soccer Association, serving two years as captain of the Carolina Courage.
Tim became the youngest player ever on Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew in 1997. He played there two seasons and then three with the Miami Fusion. He also played in the USL and with the FC Dallas and DC United’s reserve squad. He has also been a member of the U.S. under-18 and under-20 national teams and was a member of the 2000 Olympic team player pool. Tim didn’t give up his education for soccer. He returned to UNC in 2004 and completed his degree in communications/rhetorical studies.
After they were done playing, the Sahaydaks stayed involved with soccer through clubs, clinics and camps. They also helped out at UNC. The VCU job is the first collegiate coaching job for both.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am about the future of the program under their leadership,” said Norwood T. Teague, VCU’s 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.”
Their first VCU team went 11-7-3 and advanced to the championship game of the CAA tournament. They go into this season with high expectations.
“Our main goal is to make the NCAA tournament,” Tiffany said. “If we fall from that, we’re going to be a little bit disappointed. Before that, our goal is to win the conference. We got close to that last year. I was not disappointed in our team’s effort last year. We overcame a lot of obstacles.
“In the bigger picture, Tim and I want to be mentors for this team. 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.”
Two heads instead of one work on making that happen.
“I think Tiff and I are both products of the environments we’ve been in,” Tim 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.
“I can look at and use things like Tiff’s experience with the national team. I’d say 50 to 75 percent of the reason for that team’s success was how well that team got along and how well they made each other better. Talent only takes you so far. Working hard only takes you so far. You need that chemistry.”
Said Tiffany, “One of the fun parts of coaching is learning how to motivate everyone. You have to motivate everyone differently. Their motivations might be different than mine were as a player. You can be a great tactician. If you don’t know how to motivate people, how to manage them, it can be hard. The biggest part of coaching is getting the players to be their best every day.”
The Sahaydak family grew by one this spring. Layla Rose Sahaydak was born on May 12. Odds are she’ll grow up to be a soccer player.
“I think she has a very good chance,” Tim said. “She’s going to have 25, 26 big sisters to look up to constantly.”