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2015 Today’s Top 10: Kim Jacob

The University of Alabama gymnast earned a national title while maintaining a perfect GPA

The first day of team competition concluded and the University of Alabama was headed to the Super Six of the 2014 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships. As a senior and team captain, Kim Jacob joined head coach Sarah Patterson at the post-meet news conference.

Just before sitting down to take questions, Patterson pointed out her husband and co-coach, David Patterson. She turned to Jacob and asked, “Do you know why David is here?”

Jacob shook her head. He never came to news conferences.

“He is here because you just won the all-around,” Sarah Patterson said. “Kim, you’re the national champion.”

It wasn’t until those words came from her coach’s mouth that Jacob realized she won the highest individual honor in college gymnastics.

“It was such a close competition she had no idea,” Sarah Patterson said. “The only thing on her mind was – this is the first day of team competition and my team just advanced. She was our spokesperson. All she knew was she was going to the press conference with me.”

That’s how Jacob’s priorities aligned: Despite her individual prowess, the team was always No. 1.

And in Jacob’s freshman and sophomore seasons, the team was indeed No. 1 – winning back-to-back national championships. The quiet, reserved newcomer made an early impact in her debut season, receiving the highest honor the Crimson Tide gymnastics team can bestow upon a student-athlete: the Lewis Each Courage Award, given each year to the teammate who puts in extra effort and motivates others around her.

“I have coached for 36 years at the NCAA level and to me Kim Jacob, as a student-athlete, is the best of the best,” Sarah Patterson said. “A coach is always looking for the best in character, the best in work ethic, the best athleticism, and someone who can deliver in the classroom. Kim did every one of those things.”

Jacob’s mental toughness was on full display her senior year as she battled back from a fractured tibia, which kept her from participating in many offseason workouts. The walking cast came off in mid-October of 2013. Seven months later, she was the national champion.

As devoted as she was to her sport, the 11-time All-American never let her commitment to gymnastics get in the way of her commitment to the classroom. Jacob will graduate in May with a degree in exercise science and maintains a 4.0 GPA. She was the first and only student-athlete to be named SEC Gymnastics Scholar Athlete of the Year three times.

“I was here to get an education, so that came first,” Jacob said. “I absolutely loved gymnastics, but there was no way I was going to put any less emphasis on my schoolwork.”

The 2013 NCAA Elite 89 Award winner also received an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship for 2014. After graduation, Jacob plans to use it to pursue a master’s in business administration at Alabama and continue working with the gymnastics team.

“I respect so much how she led through her work ethic,” Sarah Patterson said. “Sometimes you have a great athlete who is the best on the team and they don’t necessarily lead. It’s about them. And, for Kim, it was never about her.”