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.
I wonder what conference Fisk will join. SEC makes sense but I don’t know if that will happen with Oklahoma coming soon. Or maybe they will remain independent since Gulf Coast Athletic Conference does not have a gymnastics conference (though no teams are independent any longer).
My other guess would be EAGL as that conference is made up of teams that don’t have a conference sponsoring gymnastics, plus ACC is forming and EAGL is losing Pitt, NCS, and UNC.
I am hoping the Brown Girls DO Gymnastics initiative continues to open more gymnastics programs at HBCU.
Alabama State and Florida A&M are in the Southwestern Conference but would be good in state rivals for Alabama/Auburn and Florida.
Howard (Mid Eastern Athletic Conference) and Morehouse (Southern Interscholastic Athletic Conference) are two high profile HBCU that I would love for gymnastics to be part of.
Maybe they could even form their own gymnastics conference along with Fisk.
Spelman College is typically the top ranked HBCU however, the school has eliminated their entire athletic program to focus on mental health and physical fitness initiatives.