By Micha Green
AFRO DC and digital editor
Fisk University announced Feb. 11 that the institution would 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 commitment to a more just and equitable future,” the university wrote in a statement. “These values have always been at the forefront of women’s gymnastics and Fisk couldn’t be more excited to welcome these outstanding student-athletes to campus beginning next fall.”
Fisk’s decision to create a women’s gymnastics team came after there was demand for such a program and thousands of young women showed interest 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. tennessian. “We currently have interest 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 tennessian 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 list of ideally 20 to 30 young women. The University is already working to obtain scholarships for future gymnasts.
Fisk plans to hold at least five competitions in the fall of 2022, competing in Divisions I, II and II. Glover said the institution plans to field the new team at the Nashville Gymnastics Training Center and home meets will be held on Fisk’s campus inside the Henderson A. Johnson Gymnasium.
In preparation for the launch of the gymnastics team, Fisk worked with a group of advisors, including Fisk Board Administrator Frank Simmons, Vice President of Finance Norman Jones, WEB Program Director DuBois Honors LaTonya Rogers, Rutgers University Coach Umme Salim-Beasley and Brown Girls Do Gymnastics. Founder Derrin Moore.
The University plans to organize conferences, clinics and invitations with some of their partner 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 breaking the news about the show”AFRO News at noon.
“Guys Fisk University just became the first HBCU to sponsor women’s gymnastics? The best news! one woman wrote on Twitter, garnering over 1,000 likes and reactions.
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