Saturday night, Pickens represented not just her team, but the University and the state of Alabama as well at the 12th annual NCAA Woman of the Year banquet held in Indianapolis, Ind. Tanisha Silas, a former track and field standout at the University of California, Davis, was named the 2002 NCAA Woman of the Year at the banquet.
Pickens was one of 51 women representing the best seniors in the nation regardless of sport or NCAA division. It marks the sixth time an Alabama gymnast has represented the state of Alabama. The award honors academic and athletics excellence, as well as community service and leadership.
"It's always an honor to represent my teammates and the University," Pickens said. "But to be able to stand with these women, who are all so amazing, and represent the state of Alabama as well, it's just a huge honor."
Head coach Sarah Patterson, assistant coach Bryan Raschilla, associate athletics director Marie Robbins, academic counselor Cathy Elliott and athletics trainer Monica Decker all joined Pickens at the banquet.
Pickens spent her four-year career representing all her constituents well. An NCAA Champion on the balance beam as a freshman, she also became the first rookie in gymnastics history to earn five All-American honors at one championship.
She missed the NCAA Championships as a junior after rupturing a tendon in her ankle. Coming back strong in 2002, she led Alabama to its fourth NCAA team title, earning the NCAA Uneven Bars title in the process. She was the 2002 SEC Athlete of the Year, the Honda Award winner for gymnastics (national gymnast of the year) and the 2002 SEC Community Service postgraduate scholarship winner. She finished her career as a three-time SEC Gymnast of the Year, a 14 time All-American and a Scholastic All-American.
Pickens is currently finishing up her biology degree while working as a student coach with the Tide.
More than 350 student-athletes were nominated for this year's award by their colleges and universities. A committee comprised of representatives from member schools selected the state winners, reviewing the nominees' academic and athletics accomplishments, and community service and involvement.
Pickens joins Katherine Kelleher (1992), Dana Dobransky (1993), Meredith Willard (1997), Merritt Booth (1998) and Lexa Evans (2000) as Alabama gymnasts earning NCAA Woman of the Year recognition. Willard and Booth were both top-10 finalists.