The University of Alabama Gymnastics Team won its sixth national championship Saturday night and its second straight. In February, this blog ran A Statue for Sarah, touching off a firestorm of fan support for immortalizing Gymnastics Coach Sarah Patterson with a statue on the hallowed ground of the campus in Tuscaloosa.
Athletic Director Mal Moore seems to have gotten our message.
As explained in this space more than two months ago, Coach Patterson has earned it and then some. She has reached a pinnacle that few before her and likely none afterwards will ever reach. Coaches don’t stick around for decades anymore. They move up, move on or move out.
Patterson—hired by then football coach and athletic director Paul W. Bryant—has been at the same post since Jimmy Carter was President.
It’s not “just gymnastics,” as a skeptic tried to explain to me a few nights ago. Coach Patterson instills a culture of winning that makes people successful after they graduate. There are hundreds of doctors, lawyers, mothers and business executives who have learned what it takes to persevere; how to make finish that last little detail like a stuck landing on the uneven bar dismount. They will all tell you the same thing—they learned how to win at Alabama.
Patterson isn’t just a gymnastics coach. She’s a life coach and she wins championships.
Championships on the floor. Championships in the classroom. Championships in the community.