By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. and Digital Editor
mgreen@afro.com

Fisk University announced on Feb. 11 that the institution will be the first Historically Black College or University (HBCU), and the first in the state of Tennessee to have an intercollegiate gymnastics team.  

“Women’s gymnastics exemplifies the values of Fisk University: determination, excellence, and a commitment to a more just and equitable future,” the University wrote in a statement. “These values have consistently been at the forefront of women’s gymnastics and Fisk could not be more excited to welcome these remarkable student-athletes to the campus starting this coming fall.”

Fisk’s decision to begin a women’s gymnastics team came after there was demand for such a program and thousands of young ladies interested in HBCUs.

We thought it was an opportunity right now because there are so many young women who want to come to an HBCU,” said Fisk President Vann Newkirk Sr. To the Tennessean. “We’ve got interest right now from 60 to 70 young women and so with that kind of interest, we said it’s better now than later,” she said. 

According to the Tennessean Athletic Director Larry Glover hopes to hire a gymnastics coach within the next few months.

Fisk is part of the National Athletic Intercollegiate Association (NAIA) and has six men’s teams (basketball, soccer, outdoor and indoor track, golf and cross country) and currently six, soon to be seven, women’s team (basketball, indoor and outdoor track, golf, volleyball, cross country and now gymnastics).

The University is looking for a roster of ideally 20-30 young women.  The University is already working to secure scholarship funding for the future gymnasts. 

Fisk plans to have at least five meets in fall 2022, competing in Divisions I, II and II. Glover said the institution plans to train the new team at Nashville Gymnastics Training Center and home meets will take place on Fisk’s campus inside the Henderson A. Johnson Gymnasium.

In preparation for the gymnastics team’s launch, Fisk worked with a group of advisors, including Fisk Board Trustee Frank Simmons, Vice President of Finance Norman Jones, W.E.B. DuBois Honors Program Director LaTonya Rogers, Rutgers University coach Umme Salim-Beasley and Brown Girls Do Gymnastics Founder Derrin Moore.

The University plans to host conferences, clinics and invitationals with some of their partnerships organizations, such as Brown Girls Do Gymnastics.

Many people expressed their excitement for the announcement on social media.

“Great for Fisk,” one person wrote on the AFRO’s Facebook when announcing the news on the show “AFRO News at Noon.”

“Guys Fisk University just became the first HBCU to sponsor women’s gymnastics? The best news!,” a woman wrote on Twitter, garnering more than 1,000 likes and reactions.

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Micha Green

AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor