In 1995, Tiffany Lott Hogan was a standout in women’s track and field at BYU, getting national attention in the heptathlon, hurdles and javelin. She had a good shot at qualifying for the 1996 Olympics. But then she blew out her knee playing intramural basketball.
To come so close to achieving a goal she had been working toward for almost 10 years was devastating. But Hogan said that injury, along with pulling her hamstring during her senior year, helped her “accomplish some of the greatest things in my life.”
She set a world record, won multiple NCAA championships and achieved a handful of All-America titles. She earned a gold medal at the Pan American Games and eventually made an Olympic appearance. If she’s proven anything during her career, it’s to never count her out.
“I had athletic trainers that helped me overcome my knee injury, all the rehab and that portion of it. After I tore my ACL I went on to be more motivated,” Hogan said. “I started training harder.”
That training paid off. Eleven months after blowing out her knee, and after taking a red-shirt season, she broke the 55-meter hurdles world record. In that same season she became the national champion in both the 55-meter indoor hurdles and the heptathlon. She credits her coach for the rapid recovery.
“Coach Poole helped me develop into the athlete that I was,” she said.
During her senior year, she pulled a hamstring but battled through it to once again win nationals in the heptathlon. That season she also met her husband.
As her BYU career ended, Hogan’s goal of making the Olympic team seemed inevitable. But things did not quite pan out. Hogan’s qualifying meet in the heptathlon for the 2000 Olympics was “mediocre, nothing spectacular.” She did, however, qualify as an alternate, which meant she got to try on all the Olympic apparel. This seemingly small event of just trying on clothes greatly impacted Hogan.
“Right then I was like, ‘I could have had all these clothes and gone to Australia,’ and the girl that ended up third, she didn’t even compete in the Olympics,” Hogan said. “So I’m sitting at home, watching the two US girls going ‘I could’ve been there!’”
Failing to make the Olympic team in 2000 turned into a great time for Hogan and her husband to settle down and start their family. Following the birth of their son, Hogan decided to take one more shot at the Olympics and then “hang up the cleats.”
In many ways it is an understatement to call training and mothering only tough. Hogan’s husband was finishing his degree at Southern Utah University while she worked and trained with the BYU track team as a strength and conditioning coach. Both her and her husband’s parents live in southern Utah so they helped a great deal looking after their son.
“For two years, we only saw each other on weekends,” Hogan said. “That was pretty tough … But it was a sacrifice that two things came of: I was able to make the Olympic team because of the training that was available to me and then my husband was able to get his degree done. So now I can be a stay-at-home mom and he now makes the money. Looking back it was worth it but going through it sometimes there were days I was like ‘Why are we doing this?’”
But it was not just being away from her family, or that when she started training after her pregnancy she was in the worst shape of her life, that made Hogan doubt what she was doing. About two months before the Olympics trials her brother passed away in a plane accident. That more than anything made her question why she was working so hard toward the Olympics. Looking at things from an eternal perspective, she had a lot of other things going on in her life, most importantly her own family.
“And then I started thinking again, ‘You know what? I’m 29. I’ve been training for this thing for 17 years. I can’t give up now,’” Hogan said. “My brother totally would have been cheering me on at the Olympic trials, probably at the Olympics. He was there in spirit watching me instead of watching me physically. I got myself motivated again to go after it.”
With all her hard work and re-motivation, Hogan earned a spot on the 2004 US Olympic team. While she didn’t medal, earning 20th place in the heptathlon, Hogan said she absolutely loved being in Athens with the team and that there was hardly a better place to compete.
Hogan, now 37, her husband, and their three children (ages 11, 7, 3) live in southern Utah. Though she considers herself a stay-at-home mom, Hogan also coaches track at Desert Hills High School in St. George. She also coaches other athletes. A number of her students, both from the Desert Hills team and from her private coaching, have gone on to compete at the collegiate level in various sports, including BYU quarterback James Lark.
Hogan’s Olympic days bring her much joy still and she is incredibly grateful to have had the opportunities she did. But none of them would have turned into such great accomplishments and achievements were it not for all the understanding and hardworking people in her life, coaches and family alike.
“It wasn’t that I was just blessed with this God-given talent. There were people that were my network, my support group, that helped me to develop into accomplishing all of these many awesome things,” Hogan said.
This article was written in October 2012 as part of a feature writing course at BYU. Each student in the class interviewed and wrote a story about a former BYU athlete, ultimately answering the question: Where are they now?