Tiff Zachos ’88 stepped up in a big way this summer, and her actions earned her champion status.
The world-class lacrosse player was already playing goalie for the U.S. women’s team at the United World Games in Amsterdam when she volunteered to fill in as goalie for the U.S. men’s team.
“That’s how I wound up with a gold medal,” Zachos beamed.
Her good deeds didn’t end there. With both leagues’ approval, the national club team member also volunteered to assist the Dutch women’s team at the games.
“Their goalie was unable to play for part of the tournament, so I split goalie duties with two Dutchmen,” she said. “I won a bronze medal as a part-time member of their team.”
It wasn’t the first time that Zachos stepped up to help a team. During her junior year at Peddie, women’s lacrosse coach Melinda Reuter asked her defense player to rise to the occasion.
“Our goalie decided she wasn’t going to play that year and it was a surprise to everyone,” Zachos remembered. “Coach sat me down and said, ‘You know, goalie is the best athlete on the team and we’re really in need of someone who’s a great athlete to step up and pick up a goalie stick and take over.’ From that day forward, I never went back to playing on the field.”
Zachos eventually became captain of the team, and the Winant Cup winner (for outstanding Peddie scholar-athlete) went on to play lacrosse for Cornell University, where she studied veterinary medicine.
Zachos vividly remembered the day she received her college acceptance letter.
“I brought the letter with me to [lacrosse] practice, and I saw Coach Reuter coming to the field, and I was waving the letter in the air. She knew what it was and came running and gave me a gigantic hug. It was one of the best days of my life. March 23, 1988. The day is burned in my memory.”
Zachos insisted that she would not have been accepted to Cornell if it were not for Peddie.
“I came to Peddie sophomore year a completely scattered, disorganized, troublemaker kid, and I left a champion headed for the school of my dreams,” she said. “Peddie broke down all of my bad habits and rebuilt me into the strongest person in the world.”
The small animal orthopedic surgeon recently switched gears and is finishing up a residency training program in Erie, Pennsylvania.“I’m a physician and a veterinarian,” said Zachos. “I graduated from medical school two years ago. But I’m keeping my veterinary license, and I do some consulting and some limited work with that. I plan to do both ultimately,” she said.