April 11, 2013
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -
Head Alabama football coach Nick Saban took time out of his spring practice schedule to visit the two-time defending NCAA Champion Crimson Tide gymnastics team Thursday afternoon in the gymnastics practice facility - except he disputes the "defending" part.
"You're not defending those titles," Saban told the gymnasts. "This is a different team, it's a new year. No one can take what you've accomplished in the past away from you."
Saban, who also spoke with the gymnastics team prior to their trips to the 2011 and 2012 NCAA Championships, emphasized that the key to success was shutting out outside distractions and expectations and focus on what had made them successful in the first place.
"Our ladies always enjoy when Coach Saban comes and talks to them," head gymnastics coach Sarah Patterson said. "I think they get a tremendous amount out of what he has to say and the different perspective he brings to competing for a championship. They have a lot of respect for everything he's accomplished."
That appreciation is a two-way street.
"I have a great deal of respect for what you've done, how much you've accomplished and the way you've gone about it," Saban told the gymnasts. He went on to tell the team that in addition to all the hard work they'd already put in, they needed to be in the right frame of mind to be able to execute at the highest level when the time came.
The 2013 NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional champions will practice in Tuscaloosa through Tuesday before leaving for Los Angeles, site of this year's NCAA Championships. The Tide will go through a practice day in Pauley Pavilion on Thursday and will be in semifinal session No. 2 on Friday, starting at 6 p.m. PDT. Winner of the last two NCAA Championships, Alabama will be going for its seventh overall in California.