Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Excellence Personified: Sarah and David Patterson

As Dizzy Dean said long ago, "It ain't braggin' when you dun dun it."

One does not need to be a fan of gymnastics or the University of Alabama to appreciate Sarah and David Patterson.  If you had a daughter talented in gymnastics, they are the sort of college coaching team you would want for her.  

Sarah Patterson was the last head coach at UA hired by the late athletic director (and somewhat famous coach) Paul Bryant.  She came to UA in 1979 as a recent graduate of Slippery Rock State to coach in a program that was in turmoil and under consideration for shutdown.  She became the Pat Summitt of women's college gymnastics.  The scoreboard is impressive enough: six national championships, eight SEC championships, 29 regional championships, and four times as NCAA coach of the year.

Dee Foster Worley, who competed for UA during the 1980s and is a close friend to new coach Dana Dobransky Duckworth, has written this tribute to two of the best coaches in the country in any sport: "Excellence Conquered and To Be Continued".  Her reaction to the Pattersons' retirement:

"So, today when I learned Sarah and David were stepping down as one of the most dominant coaching tandems in any sport – and that Dana had been tapped as the new head coach – I cried.  I cried for the 35 years Sarah and David have been in my life, teaching me to properly steward my gifts and my womanhood.  I cried because I know that Sarah’s passionate commitment to the University of Alabama gymnastics program is an eternal flame that will never extinguish.  I cried because David, who is one of the best coaches that has ever or will ever grace the planet, will end his gymnastics coaching career as he lived it: humbly in the background, holding everyone up with his quiet might and taking none of the credit for his immeasurable contribution to their success."

Coach Patterson said it best: 
"I am grateful that, for 36 years, David and I were able to implement our coaching philosophy of trying to develop well-rounded young women who are ready to make a difference in the lives of others upon their graduation from this University."

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