Fisk University, a historically Black university in Nashville, Tennessee, announced Friday its intention to launch the country’s first intercollegiate women’s artistic gymnastics team at a Historically Black College and University in a partnership with Brown Girls Do Gymnastics.
The NAIA Division I institution—part of a college athletics association for small colleges and universities in North America—will award athletic and merit scholarships and has a goal of entering into an independent conference and competing as a USAG nationals-eligible school starting with the 2023 season. A search for “an experienced collegiate gymnastics coach” has already begun, with the intention of having the role filled before level 10 nationals in May.
“We could not be more excited to launch the first HBCU intercollegiate women’s artistic gymnastics team,” said Fisk University president Vann Newkirk. “Fisk University has always been an educational leader, and this women’s gymnastics program will embody all the qualities that define the Fisk experience: excellence, determination and a commitment to a better tomorrow.”
Notable Fisk alumni include civil rights activists W.E.B. Dubois and John Lewis, dancer and choreographer Judith Jamison and poet Nikki Giovanni.
Since 2015, Brown Girls Do Gymnastics has been a driving force in advocating for gymnasts of color to have an opportunity to continue their athletic and academic careers in an inclusive environment like a HBCU. Fisk University joins a 7-year grassroots effort toward inclusion and the creation of new opportunities for gymnasts.
“We look forward to working with Fisk to create an inspiring, value-driven and culture-shifting program and to develop the first HBCU intercollegiate gymnastics team,” said Derrin Moore, the founder and president of Brown Girls Do Gymnastics. “In the very near future, Black and brown gymnasts will no longer have to choose between HBCUs and gymnastics. Now we begin the process of building the program from the ground up and recruiting the nation’s top Black gymnasts.”
Fisk is also set to host the sixth annual Brown Girls Do Gymnastics Conference on July 22 to 23, with the Isla Invitational, which will feature a competition for high-level gymnasts of color, a day later on July 24.
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Article by Elizabeth Grimsley
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