Fisk University is launching the first women’s gymnastics program at an HBCU, the New York Amsterdam reports.
The school plans to begin the gymnastics program during the 2022-23 season and will award athletic and merit scholarships.
Dr. Larry Glover, the school's athletic director, said a coach will be hired within the next couple of months.
School president Dr. Vann Newkirk Sr. added that Fisk has been exploring the possibilities of a gymnastics team for over a year, the Tennessean reported.
"We thought it was an opportunity right now because there are so many young women who want to come to an HBCU," Newkirk said. "We've got interest right now from 60 to 70 young women and so with that kind of interest, we said it's better now than later."
Glover along with board trustee Frank Simmons, vice president of finance Norman Jones, and W.E.B. Du Bois Honors Program director LaTonya Rogers on the task force. Also, Rutgers coach Umme Salim-Beasley and Brown Girls Do Gymnastics founder Derrin Moore were brought in as advisers.
According to the report, Fisk has begun funding scholarships and plans to work with Brown Girls Do Gymnastics, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that’s dedicated to providing “scholarships, coaching, training and other forms of support to athletes from underrepresented and marginalized groups.”
Derrin Moore founder of Brown Girls Do Gymnastics believes that Fisk will be more than ready to compete during the next school year,
"They have enough people who want to see these students thrive, that they can bring in a program like gymnastics that's not a typical or traditional sport, especially a non-traditional sport that Black and brown folks do.
"But just putting feelers out, they (gymnasts) had to really think hard about it," Moore continued. "Because that was always something that they wanted to do. They always wanted to go to an HBCU. They always wanted to compete at an HBCU."
Recently, there's been an increase in Black women entering gymnastics. 10% of scholarship athletes in the NCAA Division are Black women, a 3 % rise from 2012. Additionally, Black women make up more than 10% of USA Gymnastics membership.
In support of the new program, Fisk will host invitationals, clinics, and conferences.