Alabama gymnastics releases 2011 schedule

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama gymnastics team's 2011 schedule, which was released Thursday, includes six opponents that were at last year's NCAA Championships and eight that have made it to the final site in the past two years.
"We put together a schedule that is certainly going to challenge our young team," UA head coach Sarah Patterson said. "This is not a schedule designed to go undefeated, but it will help prepare us for the championship season. When we get to the end of the regular season we certainly won't be looking over our shoulder."
The Crimson Tide's slate includes five regular season meets and the NCAA Regional Championships within the friendly confines of Coleman Coliseum. Patterson and company open the season at home with Penn State on Friday, January 7. The Tide also hosts Boise State, Auburn and LSU as well as Kentucky on Friday, Feb. 18 for Alabama's seventh annual Power of Pink meet.
"We're excited about the challenges our home schedule brings," Patterson, now in her 33rd year with the Tide, said. "During last Saturday's football game, I looked up on the JumboTron and saw Joe Paterno run out on the field and the first thing I thought was that we open our season with Penn State, one of the nation's best teams."
The 2011 season marks the first time that Alabama has faced Boise State during the regular season as well as Auburn's return to Tuscaloosa after a one-year layoff. The Tide will also be looking for revenge when LSU comes to town after falling to the Tigers in Baton Rouge last year.
The Tide's road schedule is just as tough, featuring Arkansas, LSU, Nebraska, Missouri, Georgia, Michigan and Florida, who Patterson calls her preseason pick for the No. 1 team in the nation.
"We're going to be tested early and often on the road, especially in the fourth meet of the season, the Metroplex Challenge," Patterson said. "LSU, Nebraska and Missouri were all at the NCAA Championships last year. We moved some things around to go to this meet because I thought it was important for our young team to experience a meet with great competition where all four teams would be competing at once. The meet will also be on a podium, just like the SEC and NCAA Championships."
While the regular season sees Alabama traveling far and wide, with stops in Fayetteville, Ark., Ft. Worth, Texas, Gainesville, Fla., Athens, Ga. and Ann Arbor, Mich., the Tide won't have to leave the state for the first two rounds of the postseason. The Southeastern Conference Championships will be in Birmingham, Ala., in the BJCC Saturday, March 19 while the regionals will once again be held in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, April 2. 
"I don't think I could have drawn up a better start to the championship season for this year's team," Patterson said. "By the time we get to that point in the year, our ladies will all be comfortable competing in front of a large and supportive crowd, and that will certainly help at the conference and regional championships."
Alabama will be looking for its 29th consecutive NCAA Championship appearance this season. The championships will be held April 15-17 in Cleveland, Ohio this season, marking the first time the NCAA Championships have been held off campus.
Season tickets for Tide's Five Fun Family Fridays are available now through the Alabama Ticket Office (205.348.2262), located in the lobby of Coleman Coliseum, or online at

INFORMATION SOURCE: University of Alabama Athletics