Sports Envoy
Sports Envoy Program

Evan Lysacek

Figure Skating

Served as envoy

  • 2012  –  Sweden
  • 2012  –  Belarus
  • 2014  –  Russia
  • 2020  –  Japan
  • 2020  –  Malaysia
  • 2020  –  Singapore

Following his figure skating Gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, Lysacek was chosen as the 2010 United States Olympic Committee’s SportsMan of the Year, and the winner of the James E. Sullivan Award as the top U.S. amateur athlete of 2010. On January 22, 2016, he was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame. Evan Lysacek is the last American male figure skater to win an individual Olympic medal. He was a Sports Envoy in Belarus and Sweden in 2012 and Russia in 2014.

“With these adults, with young kids, with people who have nothing to do with skating whatsoever… our common language is sports and it transcends differences in language and differences in culture.” “I really feel like they absorbed the on-ice skills that I was trying to teach,” he said. “But also, I think they absorbed the message from what we were talking about a little bit and how that can help them if they continue skating, whatever skating will mean in their life, but it will also help them in everything that they do.”

Hilary Knight

Ice Hockey

Served as envoy

  • 2014  –  Belarus

Hilary Knight is one of the most decorated players in the history of women’s ice hockey.

Hilary first stepped onto the ice at the age of five, when her family relocated from California to Chicago. When there were no girls’ teams, she played with the boys. By high school, she was a standout star and had her pick of colleges. She chose the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where she earned First Team All-American honours and Player of the Year in her sophomore year – and helped her team capture two National Championship titles. She took a year off from college to train for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, where, at age 20 and the youngest on the team, she helped Team USA earn the silver medal. She returned to the Olympics in 2014 in Sochi to claim another silver. In her rookie season playing for the Boston Blades in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, she became the first American-born player to win MVP. In 2015, she joined the National Women’s Hockey League to play for the Boston Pride. In 2017 she won her seventh IHF World Women’s Championships gold medal. “When I step on the ice, it’s like I’m entering a different world,” Hilary says. “It’s like a sanctuary. All my worries and stress shed from my shoulders.”

Julie Chu

Ice Hockey

Served as envoy

  • 2014  –  Belarus
  • 2014  –  Kazakhstan

Julie Chu has had a tremendous career coming from an unlikely
background that would lead her to 14 years playing on the US
National Team, collegiately at Harvard, 4 Olympic Games, 5 World
Championships, 3 Clarkson Cup Championships and off the ice
coaching at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and Union College.
A native of Fairfield, CT, Julie’s life on the ice didn’t begin in the faceoff circle but with toe picks and figure skates. Julie’s brother Richard played hockey and with the blessing of her parents (Wah and
Miriam), Julie made the move from figure skating to hockey.
What a move it ended up becoming. Julie was able to make huge
strides locally in Connecticut first playing co-ed and then on to playing
with girls. She was able to win US National Championships with the
Connecticut Polar Bears, played prep hockey at Choate Rosemary
Hall and was recruited to play at Harvard. Prior to playing at
Harvard, she deferred enrollment for the opportunity to play on the
US National Team ahead of the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Games.
Since then, Julie went from being one of the youngest players to now
being the oldest having participated in Salt Lake, Torino, Vancouver
and Sochi for Team USA. On the ice, she has always been the
ultimate professional doing whatever the team has needed from her
including making a position switch from forward to defense if that was
what the team needed to try and win. Her unselfish play has been a
guiding light for younger players to see and know that they are only
as good as the team around them doing whatever it takes to try and
get a W.

While at Harvard, Julie was outstanding and during her career there
she set the All-Time NCAA Scoring & Assist record, led her team to
multiple Frozen Fours and won the Patty Kazmaier Award as the best
collegiate hockey player. During her international career, Julie has won the most World Championships for a US player, she is tied with the second most amount of US Winter Olympic medals and at the conclusion of theSochi 2014 Winter Olympics was elected by the members of the entire US Olympic Team to carry the flag during Closing Ceremonies.

Professionally, Julie has won 3 Clarkson Cups (pro women’s hockey)
with Minnesota and Montreal which is the most for a US player and is
still playing today for Montreal in the CWHL.

Tiffany Roberts-Sahaydak

Soccer

Served as envoy

  • 2006  –  Uganda
  • 2007  –  Philippines
  • 2010  –  Thailand
  • 2011  –  Brazil
  • 2014  –  Brazil
  • 2015  –  Indonesia
  • 2017  –  Belarus
  • 2017  –  Albania
  • 2019  –  Egypt

An Olympic gold medalist, World Cup champion and two-time NCAA champion, Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak was named head women’s soccer coach at UCF in May 2013.

A three-time American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, Roberts Sahaydak has wasted no time in putting her stamp on UCF’s successful program. Under her guidance, the Knights have earned four NCAA Tournament bids and four American Athletic Conference championships while boasting 11 conference Player of the Year awards and 38 all-league and tournament selections.

In her first season (2013), she led UCF to a school-record unbeaten streak (18 matches), an NSCAA national standing through much of the year and the program’s first undefeated conference season since 1999. In addition, UCF made history as the first program to win an American Athletic Conference Championship.

Roberts Sahaydak came to Orlando after serving six seasons at VCU alongside her co-head coach, husband and current UCF associate head coach Tim Sahaydak.

Roberts Sahaydak spent a decade with the U.S. National Team from 1994-2004, earning 112 caps (with 60 starts). Her career was highlighted by three women’s World Cups – among them, the unforgettable 1999 championship – and a gold medal with the 1996 Olympic team.

After retiring from the USWNT, she has served as an ambassador for U.S. Soccer with the U.S. Department of State Sports Envoy Program since 2007, promoting the power and benefit of sport internationally. With the program, she has visited Indonesia, Uganda, the Philippines, Thailand, Namibia, Brazil and France. In 2014, she was appointed to President Barack Obama’s Presidential Delegation to the Federative Republic of Brazil at the opening of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. She is a native of San Ramon, Calif., and was selected as the 1994 California High School Player of the Year.

She was a three-time Parade High School All-American, a three-time NSCAA All-American and was the two-time National Girl’s High School Player of the Year. She debuted for the Stars and Stripes in 1994 when she was only 16 as one of the youngest players ever to suit up for the National Team. She played in her first FIFA Women’s World Cup a month after her 18th birthday and won Olympic gold before she was out of her teens (USSoccer.com).

As a collegian, Roberts Sahaydak was a standout midfielder for North Carolina (1995-98) as a three-time All-ACC First Team selection. She led the Tar Heels to two NCAA titles (1996, 1997) during her tenure, was voted the 1998 ACC Tournament MVP and finished third in voting for collegiate soccer’s highest honor, the Hermann Trophy.

She still ranks among the top five for career starts in UNC’s record book.She was a two-time captain for the Carolina Courage in the first fully professional U.S. women’s league (Women’s United Soccer Association). She helped the Courage win the 2002 title after finishing last in the team’s inaugural campaign one year prior.

Roberts Sahaydak took over VCU’s program in 2007 and led the Rams to three conference championship game appearances. She was voted as the 2011 Colonial Athletic Association Co-Head Coach of the Year, along with her husband Tim. The duo mentored two CAA Defenders of the Year, one CAA Rookie of the Year and 20 all-conference players, including six first-team honorees.The Sahaydaks reside in Orlando with their two daughters, Layla and Evie.

“It’s been a life changing experience being involved in the Sports Diplomacy Envoys. I have had the good fortune of participating in programs all over the globe, and I’ve worked together with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. I am constantly reminded that sport can bring us closer together. We can celebrate our differences and our common interests. Every time we start to play a game we start to connect and the world seems to get a bit smaller.”

Zola Solamente

Soccer

Served as envoy

  • 2014  –  Bolivia
  • 2016  –  Jordan
  • 2016  –  Netherlands
  • 2016  –  Senegal
  • 2017  –  Belarus
  • 2017  –  Albania
  • 2018  –  Tajikistan
  • 2019  –  Bahrain

Zola Solamente began playing soccer at the age of 5, with her older brother and his friends. She continued to play with boys until middle school, when she switched to a female club team. From ages 12 – 17 Zola was a captain of her club team, as well as with the Olympic Development Program, and was a member of the East Regional team, which competed internationally.

Zola played at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill 1990-1993. She was a starter at UNC for all four years of her career. She won 4 National Championships, 4 ACC Championships, and was named All-American her senior year. She was invited to play on the US Women’s National team in 1993. She traveled with the team for 2.5 years participating in international tournaments.

In 1995 Zola retired from international soccer to become a mother and pursue a career in fine arts. She now owns Arden Gallery Ltd. in Boston, MA, which she has been directing for 18 years. She continues to share her passion for soccer by providing individual and small-group soccer clinics to female players ages 12 – 18 in the greater Boston area. The focus of these training sessions is to improve technical skills, increase tactical awareness, and deepen strength/fitness levels. Since the fall of 2014 she has been traveling with the US State Department as a Sorts Envoy coaching and mentoring children in under-served and at-risk environments in the Middle East, Africa, and South America.