Black women at Fisk University are making history. Located in Nashville, Tennessee, the Fisk gymnastics program was announced earlier this year, making it an HBCU first.
The gymnastics squad has gone viral on social media after posting a video from their first practice.
The university reshared the video on their official Twitter account to highlight the women with the caption saying, “oh nothing, just making history!”
In an exclusive interview with NewsOne earlier this year, Fisk University’s head gymnastics coach Corrine Tarver spoke about the unique opportunity of bringing gymnastics to the HBCU community.
“It’s great to be the first HBCU,” Tarver said. “What it does is open up opportunities for girls who want to have an HBCU experience and do gymnastics at the same time because it just wasn’t something that was an option before.”
Tarver was hired to lead the Fisk gymnastics program in March and holds a highly impressive resume. A former U.S. National Team member, she was the first Black gymnast ever at the University of Georgia. Tarver also was a member of Georgia’s first two NCAA national championship teams, becoming an NCAA champion in the All Around and Floor Exercise in 1989. She’s also the first Black gymnast to win the NCAA All-Around competition.
According to Tarver, the Fisk gymnastics program offers Black and Brown girls a special place, given some of the inequities within the sport.
“Sometimes gymnasts that are Black and Brown are looked at as not having the ideal body type, or they don’t have the right lines or things of that nature,” she explained. “So if they are not the superstars, they have a tendency to get overlooked a little. This is an opportunity for them to have a place because I understand how that feels, and I invite those girls to come on our team.”
The team is officially training for competition and will look to shock the world as they begin their journey. Tarver said that she has scheduled meets all over the place and is looking forward to being the only gymnastics program in Tennessee.
“We are competing all over the country,” Tarver explained. “The schedule has meets all over the place, but gymnastics is its own little small world, so we compete against mostly Division I programs.”
As a pioneer in this space, Fisk has become an integral part of the HBCU sports world and its expansion. Tarver believes that Fisk could impact the HBCU community as a model that other institutions can look up to.
“Honestly, I don’t really look at it amongst the HBCU landscape because there is no HBCU landscape for gymnastics,” said Tarver. “I’m hoping to create one, though. My hope is that when they see us then, other HBCUs will want to add.”