Always a source of pride, Alabama gymnastics’ academic excellence has hit an impressive stride over the last several years providing some truly awe inspiring results.
- Alabama gymnasts have earned 10 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships, twice as many as any other gymnastics program in the nation.
- Alabama has earned 113 Scholastic All-American honors since the award’s inception in 1991. The Tide has averaged nine Scholastic All-American per year over the last five seasons.
- A Crimson Tide best 13 gymnasts earned Scholastic All-American honors during the 2002 NCAA Championship run.
- Alabama has earned Academic All-Southeastern Conference honors 171 times since the award was first given out in 1984. That total includes an average of 11 per year over the past five season.
- The Tide’s 15 Academic All-SEC honorees in 2002 stands as a league record for a single year.
- Over the last decade, Alabama has been a fixture in the top five nationally among all gymnastics programs in team grade point average. On its way to its fourth NCAA title in 2002, the Tide checked in at No. 3 with a 3.6 GPA.
Not all accolades gathered by Alabama gymnasts come during competition when the bright lights are focused on them. In fact, the accomplishments the Crimson Tide coaching staff are most proud of come in the classrooms and study sessions.
The Tide’s success is in direct correlation to the level of importance the coaching staff puts on academics. Priority one at Alabama is a tremendous education that will catapult the Tide gymnasts into exciting futures.
“From the day we begin recruiting an athlete to the day they walk across the stage at graduation, we stress academics as the most important aspect of their experience here at Alabama,”coach Sarah Patterson says. “I want our ladies to win national championships and I want them to break records, but first and foremost I want them to do the best they can in the classroom.”
The emphasis the Pattersons put on academics have paid huge dividends. Alabama has produced 10 NCAA and seven Southeastern Conference Scholarship recipients since 1983. Three Alabama gymnasts have been named the SEC’s Scholar Athlete of the Year, an honor bestowed on the conference’s top senior student-athlete, regardless of sport. The award carries with it the H. Boyd McWhorter Scholarship, a $10,000 grant that can be applied to the graduate program of the recipient’s choice. Tide gymnasts have placed their names on national honor societies more than 125 times over the last 25 years, including three with membership in Phi Beta Kappa.
And while the Crimson Tide has built a sparkling reputation in the academic arena, that reputation is not just a case of letting a squad of naturally academically talented athletes loose in the classroom.
“Many of our athletes are what I would consider average college students, and yet they continue to perform at above average levels, and that is what I am most proud of,” Sarah Patterson said. “There’s a misconception, I think, that all these young ladies have a great deal of natural ability. They’re all bright young women, but I attribute our success to the fact that they come in here knowing that school comes first. They know we feel that way, and they take the support system, which is second to none, and they surround themselves with it and work within that system. That’s why we do so well. I think if the same student came in here and worked the same amount of time, but didn’t use the support system, I don’t think their grades would be as good.”
Some of Alabama’s greatest success stories involve student-athletes that came in as at-risk students. Through a combination of their own hard work, unflagging support from the coaching staff and the resources Alabama put at their disposal, they were able to graduate. They then went on to careers that might not have been possible without the education they received at the Capstone.
Once a prospective student-athlete signs, it is up to her how successful she is academically. But because of Alabama’s Center of Athletic Student Services and the commitment of its coaches, every opportunity for success is there for the taking.
During the first year, freshmen are required to attend a nightly study hall. After that first year, attendance is based on the individual’s GPA and study needs. Every member of the gymnastics team utilizes the study hall and tutorial staff throughout their career.
Between the Pattersons, CASS and individual initiative of the student-athletes, the gymnastics program is assured of capturing more perfect 10s in the gym and perfect 4.0s in the classroom.