May 12, 2014
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Among the most accomplished gymnasts in Alabama's storied history, senior All-Americans and Scholastic All-Americans Sarah DeMeo, Kim Jacob and Diandra Milliner, extended their championship legacy recently when all three added NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships to their long list of accolades.
Prior to this latest honor, the trio - who finished their competitive careers last month at the Birmingham-based national championships -had already led the Crimson Tide to four top-four NCAA finishes, including back-to-back national titles in 2011 and 2012. They also account for two individual NCAA Championships, 23 All-American honors and nine Scholastic All-American accolades between them as well as countless additional honors.
"Sarah, Kim and Diandra have been extraordinary members of the Alabama gymnastics family since the moment they stepped on campus as freshmen," UA head coach Sarah Patterson said. "Through their drive, determination and heart they have been champions in the classroom, the gym and the community. This latest honor is another testament to everything they have accomplished."
With these latest honors, the Tide's current seniors are the first class in Alabama gymnastics history to collect three of the prestigious scholarships, which are valued at $7,500 each. Alabama gymnasts have now tallied a total of 18 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships, the most of any program in the nation, since Julie Garrett earned the first in 1983.
"We're extremely proud to lead the nation in this amazing honor, both this year and overall within the sport of gymnastics," Patterson said. "I think one of the things that makes this scholarship so special is that it not only recognizes all they accomplished as scholars and athletes, but it provides an avenue for them to continue their academic pursuits, which is a tremendous opportunity for our ladies."
The NCAA awarded 29 postgraduate scholarships to women competing in the winter sports this year, and Alabama and Emory were the only schools to have three honorees. Additionally, Alabama was the only school to have three come from the same sport. There were five gymnasts among the 2014 winter recipients, with the Tide's trio making up more than half that total.
With the addition of this year's honorees, a total of six members of the Tide's 2011 NCAA Championship team have earned NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships, with DeMeo, Jacob and Milliner joining 2013 seniors Ashley Priess and Ashley Sledge and 2011 senior Kayla Hoffman.
Earlier this year, Jacob added to Alabama's total of Southeastern Conference Postgraduate Scholarships, when she earned one of the $7,500 stipends administered by the league office. The Tide has now earned 11 the SEC scholarships since Dr. Julie Estin Vaughn brought home the first in 1987.