After receiving her award from SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, Pickens thanked the conference athletics directors for the honor. She also thanked her coaches.
"Thank you to my coaches, Sarah and David Patterson and Bryan Raschilla for giving me the opportunity to be all that I could be and helping me discover how far I could really go, not only in athletics, but in all aspects of my life," Pickens said.
Pickens also spoke of her teammates, the 2002 NCAA Gymnastics Team Champions.
"I share this award with my teammates," Pickens said. "Their constant encouragement and love helped carry us all to new and breathtaking heights."
Pickens was joined at the podium by the men's recipient, long jumper Walter Davis of LSU.
As the captain of the Alabama gymnastics team, Pickens led the Crimson Tide to the 2002 National Championship. In her three years of NCAA Championship competition, Pickens earned 14 All-American honors and two individual titles (Pickens was injured for the 2001 NCAA Championships).
She is the only gymnast in NCAA history to earn five All-American honors in two different seasons (1999 & 2002).
Pickens was named the 2002 Honda Award for Gymnastics winner; the 2002 NCAA Regional Gymnast of the Year, an honor she has earned four times; and the 2002 American Award winner, a national award given annually to the senior gymnast who best represents the ideal combination of athleticism, academic excellence and civic responsibility.
Selected as the SEC Gymnast of the Year for an unprecedented third consecutive year, Pickens won the all-around, vault, bars and balance beam titles at the 2002 SEC Gymnastics Championships. She is the first SEC gymnast to earn four individual league titles in the same year.
Tide women have now won the award four times, which ties Alabama for the best total with Florida and Tennessee. Alabama's previous SEC Athletes of the Year are: 1979 -- Reggie King (basketball); 1985 -- Penney Hauschild (gymnastics); 1987 -- Cornelius Bennett (football) and Lillie Leatherwood (track and field); 1989 -- Derrick Thomas (football); 1990 -- Dee Foster (gymnastics).