The following is a commentary blog from FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle:
Where does the time go? It seems like yesterday when I began anchoring sports here at FOX6, and that was 26 years ago.
Back then, the strong woman from Binghamton, NY had already entrenched herself as one of the University of Alabama's great coaches- and she had 26 more years to coach!
Sarah Patterson, after 36 years leading the Bama gymnastics program, has decided to step down.
The coach has penned a heartfelt open letter to fans, saying that after leading the Gymtide to 1,006 victories, she will step aside, the first thing on her retirement agenda? Undergoing surgery on both knees, knees that have been testing her pain threshold for years.
I have to say that in all my years in broadcasting (33 years and counting), Sarah Patterson has been nothing but a class act, and she has passed that class onto some 88 gymnasts who, under her leadership, enjoyed All-SEC academic status.
You see, if there is a college coach out there who should be an NCAA example of how to do it right, Patterson is that coach. Sure, Coach Patterson won six national championships (the same amount as the man who hired her back in the late 70's), but all of her career numbers are simply mind-boggling.
Take just a moment to look at the accomplishments obtained by Patterson:
— 6 NCAA Team Championships - 1988, 1991, 1996, 2002, 2011, 2012
— 32 Consecutive NCAA Championship Appearances – 1983-14
— NCAA-best 27 NCAA Championship top-4 finishes
— NCAA-best 22 NCAA Championship top-3 finishes
— NCAA-best 20 Super Six Team Finals
— 8 SEC Team Championships - 1988, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2003, 2009, 2011, 2014
— NCAA-best 29 Regional Team Championships -1983-85, 1987-96, 1998-03, 2005-14
— 4 NCAA Today's Top VIII honorees
— 1 Honda Cup (National Woman Athlete of the Year)
— 8 Honda Awards (National Gymnast of the Year)
— 25 individual NCAA titles
— 18 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships
— 5 NCAA Elite 89 honors
— 66 athletes have earned 302 All-America honors
— 73 athletes have earned 189 Scholastic All-America honors (since 1991)
— 5 SEC Athletes of the Year
— 3 SEC Scholar-Athletes of the Year
— 60 individual SEC titles
— 88 All-SEC honors
— 11 SEC Postgraduate Scholarships
— 275 SEC Academic Honor Roll accolades
— 6 SEC Gymnast of the Year honors
— 5 SEC Gymnastics Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors
— 3 SEC Freshman of the Year honors
— 8 NCAA Region Gymnast of the Year honors
— 145 individual NCAA Regional titles
— SEC single-meet attendance record (15,162 vs. Florida; Jan. 20, 2006)
— SEC single-season attendance record (13,786 per meet; 2010)
And one more accomplishment reached by Coach Patterson: She never lost to Auburn. In 36 years, the Gymtide went 109-0 against the Tigers (imagine of a Bama football coach ever did that- of course he'd have to be 130 years old).
I've had the pleasure of getting to know Sarah down through the years and I wish her, her husband David and her children Jordan and Jessie well.
And statues aide, if ever a Mount Rushmore of great Crimson Tide coaches is made, Sarah Patterson deserves a spot next to Coach Bryant. The other two? That's your call!
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