Legend: University of Alabama Gymnastics Coach Sarah Patterson’s legacy ripples far outside Tuscaloosa

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DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) - A legendary coach at the University of Alabama is stepping down.

Sarah Patterson has served as the Crimson Tide gymnastics coach for the past 36 years.

She led the tide to more than 1,000 wins, 43 postseason championships and six national championships.

Patterson has been battling degenerative knee problems for years and said she made the decision after a lot of thought and discussion with her doctors.

Across the state from UA, Calvin Twisters Gymnastics in Decatur has trained some world-class gymnasts.

The winning tradition there occasionally carries on down I-65 to Tuscaloosa.

For example, Lora Leigh Frost recently became an All-American for the Crimson Tide.

She put in work for owner Lynette Calvin, before joining the legendary University of Alabama gymnastics team under Sarah Patterson.

Calvin describes Patterson simply, "Well, she's like a Bear Bryant."

Calvin runs a full facility now, but she remembers first trying to spread the gospel of gymnastics decades ago at a cheer camp, "I had introduced tumbling to the cheerleaders, and when Sarah first came, she would come over to the gym where we were working. And she was most pleased to see people doing something with gymnastics. She had been a high school gymnast herself."

College gymnastics has changed a lot since then.  Patterson changed it.

"Why," Calvin extolls, "Between she and the coach over there at Georgia, they put it on the world map."

Gymnastics requires perfect control, discipline, work ethic, and athleticism, but Calvin thinks the main reason Patterson succeeded is much simpler, "Because she cared. She had a passion for it. Because she knows what athletics does for an individual."

The crimson faithful will remember Patterson for big wins, but full gyms across the southeast truly show her legacy.

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