Aug. 19, 2008
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -
When the Alabama Gymnastics team returned to campus for its first team meeting Tuesday it was greeted by a coaching staff that remains the same, but is stronger overall due to a change in titles.
Long-time volunteer coach and two-time NCAA Balance Beam Champion for the Crimson Tide Dana Dobransky Duckworth will become a full-time assistant coach beginning Sept. 3 and David Patterson, who enters his 31st season with Alabama this year, will be the volunteer coach.
"We are very excited about these changes, ones that will certainly make our program even stronger," head coach Sarah Patterson, also in her 31st season at Alabama, said. "Bringing Dana in as a full-time assistant will give us four extremely knowledgeable and experienced coaches in the gym every day, a tremendous benefit for our student-athletes."
David Patterson, the Tide's associate head coach through last season, is retiring from the University which allows him to assume the volunteer coaching position. He had surgery after the 2005 season to fuse four vertebrae in his spine to help ease chronic back problems.
"David and I had discussed these changes as a possibility several years from now, but the more we discussed it this summer, the more we realized this change would be beneficial sooner rather than later," Sarah Patterson said. "With the pain David was experiencing this summer we realized it would be advantageous to reorganize our staff in this way now. There was no search; there was no thought of someone else. I always knew if we had a coaching vacancy, Dana would be the first person considered."
"Not only will this development help position Alabama for several more championship runs, it will also help our family long term from a health and quality of life standpoint," Sarah Patterson said. "David and I are excited about the changes and welcome Dana's enthusiasm, passion and love for our program into the gym on a full-time basis. We feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work side-by-side with one of the athletes we believe represents the epitome of everything we have strived to achieve in our program and to have her help shape and mold the next generation of Alabama gymnasts."
Duckworth leaves a highly successful career with Pfizer Pharmaceuticals to become a full-time coach, joining the Pattersons and assistant coach Bryan Raschilla, now in his 13th season with the Tide.
"This move could not have come about if everyone involved had not been completely committed to this program and helping it remain at the forefront of collegiate gymnastics," Sarah Patterson said. "Dana is leaving a very lucrative position with Pfizer, and for David and I this move is a sacrifice financially, but we all realized this was something that would very much help his health and our program."
David Patterson has coached Alabama since 1978 when he was the first hire Sarah Patterson made after she accepted the head coaching position. The Pattersons, who were married in 1983, completed their 30th season together last year, coaching the Tide to its 26th consecutive top-10 finish and 24th season in the top-6. Under the Pattersons, Alabama has won four NCAA Championships, five Southeastern Conference titles, 23 NCAA Regional Championships and posted 21 "final four" national finishes.
"This reorganization is perfect for our program at this time," Sarah Patterson said. "Recruiting travel had become more difficult for David, which is something we looked at in terms of his long-term health. As the volunteer coach he will not recruit off campus and can focus completely on the development of our team."
|Duckworth won NCAA balance beam titles in 1992 and 1993.|
Duckworth, who is entering her 10th season as a coach with the Tide, led Alabama to the 1991 NCAA Championship and won NCAA balance beam titles in 1992 and 1993. As a volunteer coach and choreographer, she has put together four NCAA Championship floor exercise routines, including junior Morgan Dennis' in 2007, and coached Alabama legend Ashley Miles to an unprecedented four consecutive Southeastern Conference floor titles.
"I am extremely grateful to Coach Moore for his ongoing support of our program and this move in particular," Sarah Patterson said. "I also want to thank Mike Ward, our compliance director, for making sure this change was a possibility from an NCAA rules standpoint."
School starts on Wednesday for Alabama and the first official practice for the Tide gymnasts comes on September 11.
"It's a very exciting time at Alabama and for our program and we can't wait to get started preparing for the season." Sarah Patterson said.