UCLABruins.com Summer Spotlight - Tiffany Hyland

Aug. 3, 2009

By Allison Taylor, UCLABruins.com contributor

Sophomore Tiffany Hyland from the gymnastics team is the featured athlete in UCLABruins.com's Summer Spotlight. Hyland is a walk-on from Dove Canyon, Calif. who placed third in the all-around and on floor exercise and second on vault at the 2008 South African National Championships. She trained at Diamond Elite Gymnastics and won uneven bars titles at the 2007 Level 9 Western Nationals at the Regional and State Championships.

Q: How would you describe your freshman year?
A: It has been a completely new experience. My lectures have more people in them than my whole high school, and there are more people at UCLA than in my entire town. I love being part of such a big community while still being part of the small athletic community.

Q: You are 5-8, which is unusually tall for a gymnast! What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a taller athlete?
A: Haha! I love being tall! Disadvantages are that it takes a ton of energy to get all of my legs around on flips, and I can stand on the low bar and hold the high bar at the same time, which makes bars a little difficult. Advantages are that I can chalk the high bar without leaving the floor, and I never have to worry about missing toe hechts on bars!

Q: What are you studying in school, and what do you want to do after you graduate?
A: I am studying Psychobiology and am hoping to attend UCLA or UCI medical school and become an anesthesiologist.

Q: How did you get started in gymnastics?
A: I started gymnastics when I was eight years old after a family friend told me to do a 'real' sport! I signed up just for fun. Little did my family know that it would soon become my life!

Q: What made you decide to attend UCLA?
A: I went to UCLA gymnastics camp for five years straight and fell in love with Miss Val, the program, and of course, the amazing campus. It has been my dream school since I was eight, and I am so fortunate to be living my dream.

Q: What are your goals for the upcoming season?
A: I would really like to compete bars and beam. I recently started pole vaulting, so I am also hoping to compete for the UCLA track and field team as well. As far as our entire gym team goes, I think we could be back-to-back Pac-10 champions! We have such a great team who are so driven that I know an NCAA title is well within reach as well!

Q: What intangibles would you say that you bring to the team?
A: I think I bring a positive and fun environment to the team. I am always trying to look for the bright side and encouraging people to do the same!

Q: You were born in South Africa. How did your family end up living in the United States? And how is life here compared to in your hometown?
A: We decided to move to America at the end of apartheid due to the violence. I came from a town of about 1,000 people where everyone knew everyone. Here, there are so many people concentrated into one area, that you can meet someone new everyday! I love it.

Q: It says in your bio that you've visited 13 countries. Which one was your favorite and why?
A: I have to pick 2! I LOVE Greece and Turkey. Greece was absolutely beautiful, with bright blue water and white sand beaches (I already decided I am taking my honeymoon there). Turkey was so rich with culture. I would be walking down the street, and all of a sudden people would drop to their knees to start praying. I would be the only one standing. It was an amazing experience.

Q: Who is your favorite athlete?
A: Derek Fisher. He is not only an amazing athlete, but he is an amazing family man. When his daughter was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, he moved back to LA to seek the best care despite just being traded to the Utah Jazz. He keeps a positive attitude despite this trying time. He has inspired me to keep an upbeat attitude and always find the positive in each situation despite the circumstances.

Q: What are your interests outside of gymnastics?
A: As I said, I just started pole vaulting and am thoroughly enjoying that! My brother just taught me how to surf, so that is my new passion. I just need to learn to stand up more than once every hundred tries.

Q: What is the best thing about being a Bruin?
A: Well, there are way too many to list, but I will give you the important ones! I love being part of such a tight-knit athletic community. I love knowing that Bruins are seen as driven, motivated and intelligent people who carry those qualities throughout their lives. I love walking onto campus knowing that I go to one of the most prestigious universities in the world! UCLA has so much to offer and I love taking advantage of all its wonderful opportunities

Quick Facts
Q: Nicknames?

A: Tiff, tif-fo-fa-nan-o-fi, smiley

Q: Can't miss TV show?
A: The Office

Q: Favorite meal?
A: Chicken curry from Hurry Curry

Q: What are you obsessed with?
A: Country music and the book Mind Gym

Q: What movie can you watch a million times and not get sick of?
A: The Parent Trap!

Q: Describe yourself in one word:
A: Spontaneous

Q: If you could trade places with anyone on your team, who would it be and why?
A: Ari! I really want to be able to dance. I can't even body roll.

Q: What is your internet homepage?
A: Facebook and UCLABruins.com, of course!

Q: What quote or saying do you live by?
A: 'If you are not standing on the edge, you are taking up too much space.'

Q: Favorite professional sports team?
A: LA Lakers

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