Head Gymnastics Coach & Associate Athletics Director (July 1978 – July 2014)
The University of Alabama
From 1978 to 2015, Sarah Patterson led The University of Alabama gymnastics program to highest echelon of collegiate athletics, including six NCAA Championships in 1988, 1991, 1996, 2002, 2011 and 2012. She is the only coach – regardless of sport – in Southeastern Conference history to win NCAA team titles in four different decades. She is also the only coach in collegiate gymnastics history to win national team titles in four different decades.
Under her direction, Alabama finished in the top-10 for 32 years in a row, finishing in the top six nationally 30 times including an NCAA-best 22 top-three finishes. She also coached Alabama to eight Southeastern Conference and an NCAA-record 29 regional titles.
Patterson coached Alabama gymnasts to 25 individual NCAA titles, 60 individual SEC championships, five NCAA Top X Awards. She also coached a Honda Cup winner (national female athlete of the year), eight Honda Award winners (national gymnast of the year) as well as 66 gymnasts who earned a total of 302 All-American honors and 75 gymnasts who earned 201 Scholastic All-American Honors. Under her direction, the Tide led the league in Academic All-SEC selections and the nation in NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winners.
Patterson reached 1,000 wins faster than anyone in collegiate gymnastics history, retiring from coaching with 1,006 wins over 36 seasons. A 2003 Alabama Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Patterson’s program stood among the NCAA’s top-2 in attendance for gymnastics and was second among all women’s sports in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014.
As successful as her teams were in the classroom and the gym, Patterson also worked tirelessly to make sure her program had a positive impact on the community at large. Always a force in the community, since 2004, her work with the DCH Medical Center Foundation has taken things to an entirely new level.
In December of 2004, Patterson joined with the DCH Foundation to create the Alabama Gymnastics DCH Breast Cancer Fund and went on to create the “Power of Pink” initiative to help raise money and awareness in the fight against breast cancer. The results have been phenomenal. The Crimson Tide has hosted 11 “Power of Pink” meets, bringing more than 150,000 people to Coleman Coliseum to not only witness outstanding gymnastics, but to join in the fight against a disease that is among the top killers of women in this country
In addition to raising awareness through its annual pink meets, Patterson’s “Power of Pink” initiative has helped raise more than $1.5 million for the Alabama Gymnastics/DCH Breast Cancer Fund, which provides for breast cancer screenings and treatment for the less fortunate in the Tuscaloosa community. She is also the Chair of the 2017 United Way of West Alabama campaign.
In celebration of her career, The University of Alabama officially dedicated the Sarah Patterson Champions Plaza, located across the street from Coleman Coliseum, in 2013.