Athlete of the Week: Jaidyn Tan

An exclusive interview with Jaidyn Tan, whose role on the women’s volleyball team earned her the spot of athlete of the week.


Photo provided by COD Athletics

Lily Goodfellow, Sports Writer

Athlete: Jaidyn Tan

Sport: Women’s Volleyball

Position: Defensive Specialist/Libero

Year: Freshman

Hometown: Downers Grove

High School: Downers Grove South HS


Lily Goodfellow: Congratulations on an amazing season! What was your personal highlight from this year?

Jaidyn Tan: My personal highlight would be attending Nationals and winning it all.


LG: That’s awesome. Has COD ever won Nationals before?

JT: Yeah, the last time they won Nationals was 1999, and then the last time they went to Nationals was 2003, which is the year I was born. So that was a pretty cool experience.


LG: Did the team do anything special to celebrate?

JT: Not really. It honestly kind of felt like a fever dream. That night I was supposed to go home with my dad because I had work the next morning. But he actually surprised me and told me to stay to celebrate with the team at the hotel and he would cover for me. We ended up staying in one of our teammate’s rooms, and we put the match on the TV and watched the entire match again.


LG: What does it mean to be a defensive specialist and libero?

JT: It means that you’re coming in for a front row player that may not the best at passing or may not be as strong at receiving balls. So you’re coming in for them and you’re taking that role of picking up the ball and giving the team better options for hitting by placing the ball in an area where the setter can then set a good ball.


LG: What does your training program look like in the off-season?

JT: Our training for the off-season consists of two practices a week. We lift for an hour, and then right after that, we go straight into an hour and a half of practice where we mostly focus on serve-receive and gameplay. We don’t focus right now on the team part of it because we don’t have all of our teammates yet in the off-season. But Mondays and Wednesdays we have practice and then on the off-days, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, we have the option of setting up a court and doing serve and pass, where it’s just the players and we’re serving at each other and passing and just working on things by ourselves.


LG: What are your future plans for volleyball and school?

JT: After my next year, I’m not completely sure where I want to attend yet, but I do know wherever I go I’m most likely going to either play for the school or I’m going to join their club team and continue playing volleyball.


LG: What’s the best advice you ever received from a coach or role model?

JT: The best advice I have received from a coach would be to not stress about making a mistake because volleyball is a game of mistakes and you’re bound to make a few. The most important thing is bouncing back from those mistakes and really focusing on just trying to better the ball for your teammates.


LG: How do you like to spend your time when you’re not playing volleyball?

JT: I used to be a dancer so I’ll go and just dance and do zumba classes or something like that. I’m also very big into arts and crafts. I own my small cake pop business where I make cake pops for special events for people. That’s a lot of fun. I also just learned how to knit and crochet so I’ll do that on my off-time too.


LG: That is really cool. How does someone find your cake pop business?

JT: We take orders through Instagram and Facebook. It’s called Tan’s Tasty Treats. We do cake pops, but we can pretty much do any treat. For graduations we also do money cakes, which is basically just dollar bills wrapped around with gift cards. We also do diaper cakes for baby showers. 


LG: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve ever had to face?

JT: I’m a very mental player, so I get a lot of mental blocks. So having to overcome those challenges is extremely hard for me, because I am very competitive in nature, and sometimes I don’t know when to quit and when to just be okay with what I’m doing. Having to find that balance of being mentally healthy and knowing that it is okay to make mistakes and it’s okay not to be perfect–overcoming that has been a challenge for the 8-9 years I have played volleyball. But ever since two years ago I feel like I’ve gotten better at it.


LG: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

JT: I would go back to Hawaii because it’s beautiful there. It’s very clean and the people there are extremely nice and the beaches are amazing to play sand volleyball at.


LG: If you could be an animal, which would you be and why?

JT: I would probably be a cheetah because I love big cats. Big cats are the coolest creatures ever, and just how quick and fast cheetahs are, I would love to be that quick. 


LG: What one word best describes you?

JT: Mighty. Because my athletic trainer, Katie, gave me the nickname Mighty Mouse. I’m very small, but I’m mighty.


LG: Thank you so much, Jaidyn!

JT: Of course! Thank you!