Tide Gymnastics Coach Honored

Sarah Patterson couldn't accept the 2007 E. Roger Sayers Distinguished Service Award in person when it was announced at the end of April because she was in Salt Lake City, Utah leading the Alabama Gymnastics team to its 25th consecutive NCAA Championship appearance and 25th consecutive top-10 finish.

So at the recent end of the year reception held for the Crimson Tide by the Medalist Club, Dr. Malcolm Portera, chancellor of the University of Alabama system, presented her with the award.

For Sarah Patterson, being given the Sayers Award is special for many reasons.

"I had the privilege of serving under Dr. Sayers while he was president," Patterson said. "One of my favorite photos of all time is of him holding up our 1991 national championship trophy. To be honored with this award that bears his name is truly gratifying."

Patterson, in her 29th season as The University of Alabama's head gymnastics coach, earned the exclusive award not just for the way her teams represent The University, but also for her tireless work in representing the best The Capstone has to offer realm of academics and community service as well as athletics.

Her daughter Jessie, a UA junior and sports editor of the Crimson White, accepted on her behalf when it was originally presented.

"Building a championship program that brought recognition to this great university was always my mother's dream," Jessie Patterson said after the ceremony honoring her mother. "But over the years her desire to help make a difference in the lives of others became of equal importance to her. Her love for this university and the Tuscaloosa community has been a driving force in her career."

Created in 1996 by members of the President's Cabinet and the National Alumni Association, the E. Roger Sayers Distinguished Service Award recognizes faculty and exempt administrative personnel who have performed in an exemplary manner to further the mission of The University. It is one of the highest honors bestowed by The University.

Patterson's success goes far beyond the athletics arena, where her teams have won four NCAA Championships and her student-athletes have earned 21 individual national titles. Academically, Patterson's charges lead the nation in NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships and the league in Academic All-SEC honors.

Her teams are also busy in the community, helping make a difference in the lives around them not only by being good role models, but also by taking an active role in lending a helping hand to those in need.

And of course, Patterson has helped mold the girls that come through her program into women of purpose and distinction; women who are proud and exemplary representatives of The University of Alabama.

Beyond what she has done as a coach and a teacher, Patterson has been an extraordinary member of The University and Tuscaloosa communities, working for a multitude of causes.

Three years ago she created the "Power of Pink" initiative which has raised well over $300,000 for the DCH Breast Cancer Fund, which in turn was created to support her efforts in the fight against breast cancer. The three "Power of Pink" gymnastics meets have averaged over 14,000 fans per meet, including sellouts of 15,000-plus the last two years.

The "Power of Pink" initiative will be in its fourth year next year as Patterson celebrates her 30th season as the Tide's head coach.

Previous winners include E. Roger Sayers (1996), David Womack (1997), Drury Caine & B. Scott Bridges (1998), John A. Moore (1999), Dorothy J. Martin (2000), E. Culpepper Clark (2001), Cathy Randall (2002), J. Barry Mason (2003), Jan Pruitt Duvall (2004), Robert L. McCurley, Jr. (2005) and Billy P. Helms (2006).

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