June 15, 2012
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -
The University of Alabama Board of Trustees approved construction of a Champions Plaza to honor the achievements of the Crimson Tide athletics coaches and teams during its meeting Friday.
"The plaza and Wall of Champions - located in the core of the Athletics Complex - will provide a prominent and appropriate way to recognize and honor our coaches and their teams in a significant and lasting way," UA Interim President Judy Bonner said.
The plaza, which will be located between Coleman Coliseum and Sewell-Thomas Stadium, will be named after Sarah Patterson, head coach of Alabama's six-time NCAA Champion gymnastics team.
"We named this plaza after Coach Sarah Patterson as a way to honor the great success she has enjoyed over the years in the gymnastics program, and the contributions that she has made to the University and the athletics department in general," UA Director of Athletics Mal Moore said.
The plaza, which is the result of two-plus years of ongoing discussions and planning for a way to recognize and honor Alabama's championship tradition, comes on the heels of a tremendous year for Crimson Tide Athletics.
"I am very proud that this is being supported by both Dr. Bonner and Dr. (Robert) Witt," Moore said. "This is something that we have been working on for close to three years and it has come together at a great time. We have had a lot of success this year. This plaza will be a way of recognizing the success of every sport, both SEC and national championships. It will really add to the setting of the Coleman Coliseum."
Alabama won four national team titles, starting with the BCS football championship in January and culminating with the Tide winning its sixth gymnastics and its first women's golf and softball titles over a span of two months this spring.
"I don't really feel that this is about me," Sarah Patterson said. "I feel that this is about the University. I think it is about recognizing everyone. It is about championships, tradition, family and excellence. Those are the things we stand for."
Patterson and her husband, David, are in the midst of their 34th year at Alabama. In addition to six national titles, the Pattersons have led the Tide to seven Southeastern Conference Championships and an NCAA-best 27 regional titles. They have also led Alabama to the NCAA Championships for the last 30 years in a row.
"For David and I and our children, the University has long been an integral part of our family's lives," Sarah Patterson said. "Our daughter, Jessie, earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from Alabama and now works for the Alumni Office and Jordan is a sophomore on our championship softball team. So, for me, this is an honor shared by my entire family."
The plaza will include brick and precision concrete walls and will honor each of Alabama's varsity sports and their history. There will special recognition of the Crimson Tide's NCAA and SEC Championship teams.
"I think it is a tremendous honor for our team to be included in this project, and something that really speaks to what our team and several others at Alabama have been able to accomplish this spring," UA women's golf coach Mic Potter said.
There will also be an area to recognize Alabama's national championship coaches, an exclusive club that grew this year, first when Mic Potter's team held off Southern California on the final day of the women's golf national championship to claim its first title and then when Patrick Murphy's squad beat Oklahoma in a game that went down to the final batter of the Women's College World Series.
"I think this is a tremendous way to honor a coach that has meant so much to not only our gymnastics program, but our University as a whole," Murphy said. "Sarah Patterson has been a tireless champion for the athletics department and a great supporter of our program. To have our softball program recognized in this manner is a great honor."
Construction has been approved to begin immediately and the plaza is expected to be completed in the next 12 months.
Statement from UA Interim President Judy Bonner:
"The plaza and Wall of Champions, located in the core of the Athletic Complex, will provide a prominent and appropriate way to recognize and honor our coaches and their teams in a significant and lasting way. After the softball team's thrilling win in Oklahoma City on June 6 and the women's golf team's exciting victory on May 25, it is a perfect time to initiate this project. We are so pleased to recognize Coach Patrick Murphy and Coach Mic Potter on our most recent national championships.
"It is also appropriate to name this plaza after Coach Sarah Patterson, who has coached UA's gymnastics team for 34 years. Under her direction, Alabama's gymnastics teams have appeared in 30 consecutive NCAA National Championships and have won six national championships in four different decades, with the last two occurring back-to-back. Her squads have also won seven SEC championships and 27 NCAA regional titles. Coach Patterson has compiled a 415-92-4 overall record, and she has been named SEC Gymnastics coach of the year and the NCAA Women's Gymnastics coach of the year four times each. Her gymnasts lead the SEC in Academic All-SEC selections and the nation in NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winners.
"As a civic leader and humanitarian, Coach Patterson's Power of Pink initiative, launched in 2004, has raised more than $1.25 million to provide breast cancer screenings and treatment for the less fortunate in the Tuscaloosa community. As a coach, her ability to balance success in athletic, academic and community service endeavors has empowered her gymnasts continue to lead lives of excellence and service after graduation. We are thrilled to name this plaza in her honor."
Statement from UA Director of Athletics Mal Moore:
"I am very proud that this is being supported by both Dr. Bonner and Dr. Witt. This is something that we have been working on for over two years, maybe close to three years. We have looked at several renderings. It came together at a great time. We have had a lot of success this year. This plaza will be a way of recognizing the success of every sport, both SEC and National Championships. It will really add to the setting of Coleman Coliseum.
"We are very proud of this and the work that Davis Architects have done. This will be something that people can visit and see the success of all our programs and their coaches. There will be a place where people can pull up a championship and look, no matter the year. We are all very proud and excited about this.
"We named it after Coach Sarah Patterson for the great success that she has enjoyed over the years in the gymnastics program, and the contributions that she has made to the University and the Athletics Department in general."
Statement from UA Head Gymnastics Coach Sarah Patterson:
"I have always been very proud to be a small part of the rich history and tradition of the University of Alabama and in that light I am extremely humbled to be honored in this manner. I am truly grateful to our administration and the Board of Trustees.
"My husband, David, and I have spent our entire careers at Alabama and have loved watching the growth of women's athletics over our 34 years at the Capstone. It is also extremely gratifying that this honor comes in a year in which the Crimson Tide has enjoyed so much success, winning four national championships. The success our teams continue to enjoy is built on Alabama's legacy and on the support we receive from the entire University, the Tuscaloosa community, our fans and alumni.
"The amazing success of our football program is what provides Alabama teams the opportunities to compete at the highest level. It is no coincidence that this year's incredible run started with Coach Nick Saban and his team winning Alabama's 14th national football title. From that moment in January to seeing teams like soccer, women's tennis and men's basketball on the rise, men's golf winning the SEC crown, winning our sixth NCAA Championship and women's golf and softball winning their first titles, it is truly a magical time at Alabama.
"For David and I and our children, the University has long been an integral part of our family's lives. Our daughter, Jessie, earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from Alabama and now works for the Alumni Office and Jordan is a sophomore on our championship softball team. So, for me, this is an honor shared by my entire family."
Statement from UA Head Women's Golf Coach Mic Potter
"Coach Moore had Sarah (Patterson), Jay (Seawell) and I come up to his office before we left for the NCAA Championships to show us the plans. At that time I thought it was really nice, but I wasn't exactly sure why I was in that meeting. That meeting turned out to be a little bit of prophecy.
"One of the first things that went through my mind after we won the national championship was sitting in Coach Moore's office, looking at the plans for the Champions Plaza and thinking `now we get to be up there.' I think it is a tremendous honor for our team to be included in this project, and something that really speaks to what our team and several others at Alabama have been able to accomplish this spring. The plans for the Champions Plaza looks like it is going to be a beautiful facility and something I am really excited about."
Statement from UA Head Softball Coach Patrick Murphy
"I think this is a tremendous way to honor a coach that has meant so much to not only our gymnastics program, but our University as a whole. Sarah Patterson has been a tireless champion for the athletic department and a great supporter of our program.
"It has been especially exciting to have enjoyed the success that we have had - winning our third straight SEC title and our first NCAA championship - on the 40th anniversary of Title IX. To have the softball program recognized in this manner is a great honor."
Statement from UA Head Men's Golf Coach Jay Seawell
"I cannot think of any better name to recognize the plaza under. It really gives us an opportunity to recognize the players who have come through. Also I think it will be a great thing for players to come. It is a great way to motivate with the names of the past. When you tell someone `look, this can be your spot', it motivates them. I am really proud of Coach Moore. I think that his leadership in our facilities is second to none. I am really excited for Coach Patterson because she represents excellence."
Statement from UA Assistant Women's Golf Coach Susan Rosenstiel
"I think that this is such an honor and thrill to be part of this. For someone on the outside of things - who may not know the ins and outs of the department - to see the commitment of not only the Athletic Department and Coach (Mal) Moore, but the University as a whole and the Board of Trustees to excellence in our athletics across the board, is tremendous. What a thrill for our girls to work so hard and not only win a national championship, but to come back to school and there is something here to honor that accomplishment."