Two Former UA Athletes Honored At NCAA Meet

Former University of Alabama student-athletes Kim Jacob and the late John Servati were honored during the NCAA Honors Celebration, which was held as part of the annual NCAA Convention in the Potomac Ballroom at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Washington D.C. Friday night.

Jacob was honored with the NCAA Top 10 Award. She is the 13th Alabama student-athlete and the fifth Crimson Tide gymnast to earn the prestigious accolade. The NCAA Top 10 Award recognizes current student-athletes who have completed their athletic eligibility for their success in competition, in the classroom and in the community.

“Everything this past year has been a complete honor,” said Jacob. “From going to Los Angeles for the Honda Cup to coming here to Washington, D.C. for this has been an amazing way for me to represent Alabama and to give back for everything the University provided me. It's been an honor, and I hope to continue as I move on in life.”

One of the most decorated student-athletes in Alabama's storied history, Jacob was the Crimson Tide's first Honda Cup winner as the National Woman Collegiate Athlete of the Year in July and was also the 2014 Honda Award winner as the National Gymnast of the Year. An 11-time All-American, Jacob excelled in the classroom as well, earning the 2014 Capital One Division I Academic All-American of the Year as the top scholar in all of NCAA Division I athletics, regardless of sport or gender. She also earned the 2013 NCAA Elite 89 Award as the student-athlete competing at the NCAA Championship boasting the highest GPA, as well as garnering both an NCAA and SEC Postgraduate Scholarship.

“We have coached a lot of amazing athletes, and Kim is the best of the best,” said former gymnastics head coach Sarah Patterson. “We have had a lot of athletes win this award, but for David (Patterson) and I to get to be here at one of these banquets for the first time is a highlight of our career.”

While finishing her degree, Jacob is serving as a student coach on head coach Dana Duckworth’s first staff. Duckworth and the Crimson Tide were competing at Arkansas during the NCAA celebration.

"Kim is a shining example of the fact that at Alabama, you can truly have it all," Duckworth said. "I couldn't be prouder of all she's done and to have her on my staff this season."

Servati, who died in April 2014 while saving the life of another University of Alabama student during a night when severe storms swept through Tuscaloosa, was honored with the NCAA Award of Valor early in the evening. His parents, Janet Gaston and Al Servati, accepted the award on his behalf from Alabama President Dr. Judy Bonner with head coach Dennis Pursley looking on.

“Being an athlete gave John a feeling of something bigger than himself,” said Gaston. “He learned to give his all no matter what the circumstances. There is a scripture that reads, ‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.’ I’m so proud of him.”

The NCAA Award of Valor is given to a coach or administrator currently associated with intercollegiate athletics, or to a current or former varsity letter-winner at an NCAA institution who, when confronted with a situation involving personal danger, averted or minimized potential disaster by courageous action or noteworthy bravery. The award is not presented annually, but in the event of an outstanding act of valor.

“John loved God, his family and he loved his country,” said Al Servati. “We miss him. What an act of courage that was, but fathers out there, when your children talk, listen. You will never forget that.”

The Crimson Tide has now been honored at the NCAA Honors Celebration for six years in a row, with Jacob and Servati joining past NCAA Top 10 winners Barrett Jones (football/2013), Brooke Pancake (women's golf/2012), Kayla Hoffman (gymnastics/2011), Greg McElroy (football/2010) and Brittany Rogers (softball/2009).

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