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Fisk University, first HBCU to have a women’s intercollegiate gymnastics team

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Fisk University, located in Nashville, Tennessee, is the first Historically Black College or University to launch and host an Intercollegiate Women’s Artistic Gymnastic Team.

This is the first Historically Black College/University gymnastics program to compete at the National Collegiate Athletic Association level. The inaugural season for the 16-member team had them recently competing in an NCAA tournament in Las Vegas.

Back in Spring 2022, Fisk University Gymnastics Coach Corinne Taver began to build her roster and opened her conversation with recruits by asking them one simple question. “Do you want to make history?”

On January 6, 16 women did just that and they are taking the world by storm and gaining fans along the way. “I loved that aspect of being able to take something that’s never been done and make it happen, but not just making it happen but making it amazing and making it spectacular,” Tarver said. “People stand up and watch.”

Thanks to the extraordinary athleticism of Black women like Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas and others, the face of gymnastics has changed and HBCU’s are taking notice. With the recent launch of this program at Fisk, it is predicted that more programs at historically Black schools will follow.  Prior to Fisk’s program, there was no program in the US where students could compete at this sport and get the HBCU educational experience. Fisk has changed that.

Frank Simmons, a Fisk University trustee, spearheaded the project to bring women’s gymnastics to the prestigious university.

The official announcement from the school said:

“Fisk University is delighted to announce the launch of the first HBCU Intercollegiate Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Team. Women’s gymnastics exemplifies the values of Fisk University: determination, excellence, and a commitment to a more just and equitable future. 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 University has always been recognized for its commitment to academic excellence and social justice. In recent years, the University has focused on increasing its athletic profile considering the growing interest among student-athletes for an elite HBCU experience.”

President Vann Newkirk said, “The University is committed to preparing the next generation of leaders and c-suite executives. Student-Athletes depend on an institution that enables them to translate their unique skills to professional success. Fisk’s many corporate partners are excited about the talent pipelines and the programming that has been put in place to maximize the potential of our students and our student-athletes.” 

Dr. Larry Glover, the university’s athletic director said, “We are really excited about this historical event. Fisk has always led the way regarding HBCU milestones. We continue to do so today.”

With the launch of this new program, the University plans to host several conferences, clinics, and invitationals in partnership with organizations like Brown Girls do Gymnastics.

In addition to its gymnastics program, Fisk is positioning itself to develop elite national programs by bringing in NBA legend Kenny Anderson and former Soccer star Desmond Armstrong. The school already has an outstanding women’s volleyball program under Coach Jessica Enderle.

Frank Simmons, a Fisk University trustee, spearheaded the project to bring women’s gymnastics to the prestigious university.

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