Posted on July 23 2015
B-Driven Athlete of the Month
Growing up, Tiffany Backes was not one to shy away from challenges, both physically and mentally. With three older brothers, she learned quickly how to take care of herself physically, eventually taking that ability to the wrestling mat. Not only did Tiffany compete against boys just like her brothers, but she became accustomed to pinning them consistently as well. Her father Bryan shared with us one of his favorite photos; Tiffany standing on the top of the 1st place podium, as three boys to her right place 2nd through 4th.
As Tiffany grew older, her desire to compete on the mat as a girl began to hit some obstacles as more and more people began to raise concerns. The longer Tiffany wrestled, the bigger the issue became, eventually reaching a breaking point in junior high school. She acknowledged the concerns about her continued competition and walked away from a sport she loved. Rather than getting mad and turning her back; however, she continued supporting them as the team manager for four years, dedicating her time and providing a ton of support. “We’re just so proud of how she handled the situation, rather than run away from those pushing her out, she handled it with humility and turned it into a positive situation” says her father, Bryan.
Wrestling wasn’t the only thing Tiffany excelled at. As a sophomore, Tiffany competed in pole-vaulting and would complete the year with a 4th place finish at the State competition. Eventually she would hold both the school and conference all-time pole vault records. Over the next three years of high school, she would overcome a torn ACL in her knee, concussions, and magnitude of other injuries and setbacks, yet would go on to graduate with 9 varsity athletic letters, 4 Minnesota Track and Field Coaches Association Academic All-State Awards, 3 All-Conference Awards in pole vault, 6 All-Conference Academic Team Awards, and 10 Distinguished Academic Achievement Awards. Perhaps even more impressive, Tiffany left high school with over 1,400 hours of volunteer service, all while maintaining a part-time job, which she began at the age of 13.
After high school, she competed in track and field collegiately at St. Cloud State University and just recently developed a love for fitness competition. With a driven determination to push herself beyond the mental and physical obstacles most young athletes succumb to, Tiffany has achieved a bucket list of physical accomplishments already in her young career as a fitness competitor. Tiffany placed “first in class” in not only her first ever fitness competition, but again at a second one a month later.
While being a standout high school and college athlete takes a lot of dedication, fitness competitions require a whole new level of dedication, determination, and sacrifice. It's not just the hours upon hours spent in the gym- many times 2 or 3 times a day- but the mental toll of an entire lifestyle change, implementing rigorous dieting and nutrition.
While most competitors work one-on-one with a show prep coach for 12-16 weeks to prepare for a show, Tiffany again did the unimaginable. Coach Rollie DeGrio, from Team Swole Inc. and Allison MacArthur, from Elite Presentation by Allison, LLC. worked with Tiffany for just two weeks prior to her first show- something unheard of in the sport. To prepare for competition yourself with no outside professional help at this level is not only remarkable, it is rarely achieved. “From the first time I got to meet her, I knew there was something special. I get to work with a lot of great athletes, but she truly has a gift that’s beyond most athletes, not only from the physical abilities, but more importantly the focus and drive she brings everyday is very rare and very special” says Coach Rollie DeGrio. He added, “she missed getting a pro card by one point in her very first competition, that is beyond amazing. She’ll have no problem getting it in the future she just has that kind of talent and drive.”
At just 21 years old, Tiffany has already achieved what many will not achieve in a lifetime. But, perhaps Tiffany’s greatest asset is not her physical achievements, but rather her personality that defines who she is as an individual. “She is very humble, you will never know about her accomplishments, unless someone else tells you about them” says Rollie. It’s a rare gift in athletes now-a-days and is incredibly inspiring to all of those around her, whether that be in a gym as an athlete, or in the gym working as a Medical Fitness Specialist at Rejuv Medical. For most fitness competitors, one job would seem to fill up an already busy schedule, but Tiffany is also involved in a full-time internship and has a second part-time job, along with providing modeling and endorsement services to B-Driven Sports, as well as a few other fitness related companies.
Through all this success, Tiffany has not forgotten her roots. Her parents sum it up best by saying:
“We have always taught our children to be accountable for their actions, learn from their mistakes, and to never let fear get in the way of your goals and achieving your dreams. To see our little girl grow up to continue to overcome obstacles, learn from them and continue forward is very humbling to us.” Her Dad adds, “I am so proud that even with Tiffany’s success she has not forgotten about her Christian values and the humility she carries in her persona, she is a special person with a real big heart.”
At B-Driven Sports, we are blessed with the opportunity to work with Tiffany. She is obviously not only an inspiration to us, but the many people whose lives she has touched and changed.
Written by: Jim Schmitz, B-Driven Sports