Fisk University will become the first HBCU school to launch and host an intercollegiate women’s gymnastics program. The inaugural season will begin in January 2023. Fisk administrator Frank Simmons spearheaded the project to bring women’s gymnastics to the prestigious university.
“We are truly thrilled with this historic event. Fisk has always led the way when it comes to HBCU milestones. We continue to do so today,” said athletic director Dr. Larry Glover.
Fisk University is thrilled 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 commitment to a more just and equitable future. 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 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 given the growing interest of student-athletes in an elite HBCU experience. With NBA legend Kenny Anderson and former football star Desmond Armstrong as well as an outstanding women’s volleyball program under coach Jessica Enderle, Fisk is poised to develop national programs for elite.
Fisk University has built remarkable momentum in recent years, President Vann Newkirk said. The University is committed to preparing the next generation of leaders and senior managers. Student-athletes depend on an institution that allows them to translate their unique skills into career success. Fisk’s many corporate partners are excited about the talent pools and programs that have been put in place to maximize the potential of our students and student-athletes.
The recent announcement of Fisk’s partnership with the Los Angeles Lakers provides a new opportunity for Fisk students to excel in the sports industry. In anticipation of this women’s gymnastics announcement, Fisk University has already begun securing scholarships for these future student-athletes. Fisk University also plans to host several conferences, clinics, and invites in partnership with organizations such as Brown Girls do Gymnastics.
The team will perform as an independent at meets across the country as part of the NAIA. Derrin Moore of Brown Girls Do Gymnastics advised the university on establishing the program. She was a former gymnast who wanted to see more women of color represented in HBCU gymnastics.
Unfortunately, neither HBCU had a current men’s and women’s gymnastics program. Simmons contacted Moore for advice and found a private donor to sponsor the first such HBCU women’s intercollegiate program for Fisk.
Moore told me that “female gymnasts are very smart and average 3.6 GPA in school.” Athletes would commit up to 30 hours of training each week for collegiate gymnastics. However, many parents are confused about how to enroll their children in gymnastics and the proper selection process for a coach and program.
Moore hopes the provision of resources and education will be the catalyst for greater interest and for HBCU schools to initiate programs.
In 2021, Grambling State considered adding a gymnastics program to its athletic department.
Black gymnasts and other minorities have risen to the top of the sport. American gymnasts Simone Biles, Gabrielle Douglas and Dominque Dawes won gold in competition at their respective Olympics. Biles is considered the greatest female gymnast of all time. Since Dawes competed in the 1996 Summer Olympics and won the team gold medal, the interest of the black community in the sport has grown.
Fisk University is a highly ranked historically black university, according to US News and World Report, and is the oldest institution of higher learning in Nashville, Tennessee. Fisk’s exceptional faculty and students continue to enhance the university’s international reputation for academic excellence. Our researchers continue to advance in all areas of industry, from social justice to science.
A Fisk education prepares our students to become beacons of community service and well-rounded leaders and scholars in their respective fields. Fisk offers more than 20 undergraduate and graduate programs in biology, chemistry, physics, clinical psychology with a pathway from master’s to doctoral. programs through a partnership with Vanderbilt University.