Champions Plaza Honors Patterson

The University of Alabama Board of Trustees approved construction of a Champions Plaza to honor the achievements of the Crimson Tide athletics coaches and teams during its meeting Friday.

"The plaza and Wall of Champions - located in the core of the Athletics Complex - will provide a prominent and appropriate way to recognize and honor our coaches and their teams in a significant and lasting way," University of Alabama Interim President Judy Bonner said.

The plaza, which will be located between Coleman Coliseum and Sewell-Thomas Stadium, will be named after Sarah Patterson, head coach of Alabama's six-time NCAA Champion gymnastics team.

"We named this plaza after Coach Sarah Patterson as a way to honor the great success she has enjoyed over the years in the gymnastics program, and the contributions that she has made to the University and the athletics department in general," UA Director of Athletics Mal Moore said.

The plaza, which is the result of two-plus years of ongoing discussions and planning for a way to recognize and honor Alabama's championship tradition, comes on the heels of a tremendous year for Crimson Tide Athletics.

"I am very proud that this is being supported by both Dr. Bonner and Dr. (Robert) Witt," Moore said. "This is something that we have been working on for close to three years and it has come together at a great time. We have had a lot of success this year. This plaza will be a way of recognizing the success of every sport, both SEC and national championships. It will really add to the setting of the Coleman Coliseum."

Alabama won four national team titles, starting with the BCS football championship in January and culminating with the Tide winning its sixth gymnastics and its first women's golf and softball titles over a span of two months this spring.

"I don't really feel that this is about me," Sarah Patterson said. "I feel that this is about The University. I think it is about recognizing everyone. It is about championships, tradition, family and excellence. Those are the things we stand for."

Patterson and her husband, David, are in the midst of their 34th year at Alabama. In addition to six national titles, the Pattersons have led the Tide to seven Southeastern Conference Championships and an NCAA-best 27 regional titles. They have also led Alabama to the NCAA Championships for the last 30 years in a row.

"For David and me and our children, The University has long been an integral part of our family's lives," Sarah Patterson said. "Our daughter, Jessie, earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from Alabama and now works for the Alumni Office and Jordan is a sophomore on our championship softball team. So, for me, this is an honor shared by my entire family."

The plaza will include brick and precision concrete walls and will honor each of Alabama's varsity sports and their history. There will special recognition of the Crimson Tide's NCAA and SEC Championship teams.

"I think it is a tremendous honor for our team to be included in this project, and something that really speaks to what our team and several others at Alabama have been able to accomplish this spring," UA women's golf coach Mic Potter said.

There will also be an area to recognize Alabama's national championship coaches, an exclusive club that grew this year, first when Mic Potter's team held off Southern California on the final day of the women's golf national championship to claim its first title and then when Patrick Murphy's squad beat Oklahoma in a game that went down to the final batter of the Women's College World Series.

"I think this is a tremendous way to honor a coach that has meant so much to not only our gymnastics program, but our University as a whole," Murphy said. "Sarah Patterson has been a tireless champion for the athletics department and a great supporter of our program. To have our softball program recognized in this manner is a great honor."

Construction has been approved to begin immediately and the plaza is expected to be completed in the next 12 months.

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