Power of pink

The Alabama gymnastics team is usually only concerned with two colors: crimson and white. This week, though, they’re all about pink.

No. 6 Alabama will host the No. 5 Arkansas Razorbacks for the Tide’s annual Power of Pink meet on Friday night in Coleman Coliseum. The Power of Pink meets are designed to raise awareness for breast cancer.

“It’s not just a great SEC matchup between No. 5 and No. 6,” Alabama head coach Sarah Patterson said. “It’s for a greater cause. For our athletes to be involved in something like that, it sets a standard for what they want to do later on in their lives.”

As part of Power of Pink week on campus, Denny Chimes, the Ferguson Center Plaza’s fountain, the Student Rec Center and the exterior of Coleman Coliseum will be glowing pink all week. The gymnasts and coaches will also be taking part in various pink activities of their own, including sporting pink leotards for the meet.

“It’s fun for everyone. You can use it as an opportunity to create awareness,” Patterson said. “The ladies are painting their cars pink on the windows to encourage students to come to the meet. They’ll wear pink. I’ll be in pink all week.”

Alabama has come to embrace the pink. The Tide is 16-0 when wearing pink, including three wins against Florida, Arkansas and Auburn. The gymnasts say that, while it is just another meet, there is an extra element to competing for more than just their team.

“For me, it’s an honor, as a female athlete, to be able to give back to this issue and to promote it through a gymnastics meet that we love to do already,” junior Ashley Sledge said. “It really just takes the pressure off of us. It’s more of a joy that you get to compete for so many people who have survived such an illness. They give me a motivation.”

Senior Ashley Priess, echoed Sledge’s sentiments.

“We always look forward to the pink meet because it’s so awesome to take the focus off ourselves and put it on the people who really deserve it,” Priess said. “I feel very blessed to be an ambassador to inspire women.”

The meet will be no walk in the park, however.

Arkansas brings the No. 5 team in the country to Coleman Coliseum to challenge the unbeaten Tide.

The Razorbacks have three losses on the season, but all came to top teams and in meets in which Arkansas posted scores of 196.700, 196.175 and 195.875 (Alabama scored a 196.000 last week against Kentucky last weekend, in a win).

Patterson gave the team two days off of practice this week – the first time she’s done that all season – to give her athletes extra time to rest up before a big meet. But all of the festivities surrounding the meet just give the team extra fuel when it returns to practice.

“I think they feed off of each other,” Patterson said. “The fun part of it and the awareness and people being excited about it, that makes practice that much more fun.”