My name is Tiffany Robinson Chandler and Dr. Jeff Dugas is one of my most favorite people.
I first met Dr. Dugas in 2003 when I had UCL surgery on my left elbow. Little did I realize that God had many more opportunities for Dr. Dugas and me to cross paths. In 2004 I had my first ACL surgery while doing gymnastics at Auburn University, but it wasn’t then that my relationship with Dr. Dugas started to form. I transferred my junior year, in 2006, to Troy University to cheer.
In 2008 I tore the exact same ACL on my left knee while performing a cheer routine between the 1st and 2nd quarter of a home football game. At the end of the routine I told my stunt partner that I knew my knee was done for but I would do my best to build the pyramid. He threw me hard and I jumped as high as I could to be a strong middle layer for the pyramid and we hit it. After the routine was over I immediately walked over to Dr. Dugas. We couldn’t tell the damage at the time, but I had my DonJoy and I wanted to cheer the rest of the game so I finished.
After realizing it was torn, Dr. Dugas performed surgery on me in Fall 2008 which was my 1st year as a graduate student. I became a graduate assistant for Troy Athletics and Dr. Dugas kept a close watch on me. He knew I was stubborn and hard headed and sometimes not the best listener so he made sure to hold me accountable on progressing with my rehab in a timely manner. I was often referred to as “Miss Impatient.”
Over the next several years I became involved with the Strength & Conditioning program at Troy University and also the Head Cheerleading Coach. I spent many of my Saturday’s on the sideline with Dr. Dugas and he always has some type of motivational insight to give. He always walked down to my end of the field to speak to the cheerleaders and express his passion for our sport.
But here’s the real kicker…In the Fall of 2014, I was playing with some of my cheerleaders on a spring loaded floor and doing the exact same skill the 1st time I tore my ACL…A double full. I landed fine and the cheerleaders were ecstatic, but I knew my knee shifted. I walked off and told my co-worker… I just tore my ACL for the 3rd time.
My left knee at that point had definitely seen better days but it wasn’t until our flight to Idaho that weekend for the Troy game that I would tell Dr. Dugas what I had done. When I got to the game, Dr. Dugas asked me why I had my DonJoy on my backpack. I’m sure in his head he was probably thinking “Do you plan on cheering today?” I told him I needed him to check my knee after the game and sure enough it was torn. This was it…we had already taken a Patella graft, a hamstring graft from my left leg, and now we would have to take one from my right leg. Oh and my Fitness career.
Thus far I’ve failed to mention I am a Professional Fitness Competitor and I’ve had the opportunity to travel the world competing under the International Federation of Body Building (IFBB).
In 2014 I had just been invited onto the Arnold Classic circuit where you spend time with Arnold Schwarzenegger himself…and for once in my life I felt a deep pit…my dreams were crushed because I feared not receiving an invite back to the Arnolds.
That year of my life turned out AWESOME. And let me tell you why. My 40 cheerleaders at Troy University got to watch me recover. They’ve always heard me talk about it and how it made me a better person after each surgery because I didn’t realize how strong I was mentally and physically. Those college student-athletes experienced it with me. They saw me in therapy, they watched me work full time, they watched me coach, and stand on the sideline completely braced, on crutches, and so much more. I am strong in my faith and I’ve always been one to “believe without seeing,” but my recovery was good for those cheerleaders because they got to see passion, faith, perseverance, and discipline in action. The cheerleaders would often ask me how I did it all? How I pushed through. It was honestly hard to explain but God offered me the perfect word “Character.” We started implementing Character Education on Sunday’s before practice and it was a ray of light. I couldn’t put into words about my character and my comeback from all my surgeries, but I could offer knowledge on character and allow them to build their own solid foundation.
My scars are absolutely beautiful and they are often great conversation starters. They add character to my body and they honestly show how resilient my life has been. I am 31 now, and my husband and I have a 20 month old little girl. I just finished the 2017 Arnold Classic circuit where I was able to speak out about my surgeries, my pregnancy, and maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle as a mom. It’s not been easy, but I always remind myself that God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. He’s given me the perfect platform to share my story and I am beyond thankful for Dr. Jeff Dugas. To this day I have his cell number and when I need advice he’s always there for me!
Thank you Andrews Sports Medicine for taking me in as family!
Tiffany Robinson Chandler
Auburn Gymnast 2004 & 2005
Troy Cheerleader 2006, 2007, 2008
IFBB Fitness Pro 2011-Current