Fisk University announced Friday it will add a women's gymnastics program to its athletics arsenal, the first of its kind at a historically Black college and university as well as in the state of Tennessee.
Athletic director Dr. Larry Glover said a coach is expected to be hired within the next couple of months.
School president Dr. Vann Newkirk Sr. said the university has perused a women's gymnastics program for a year.
"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."
A task force has guided Fisk along the way. Glover joined 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. Rutgers coach Umme Salim-Beasley and Brown Girls Do Gymnastics founder Derrin Moore were also advisers.
Moore said an ideal roster for a first-year program would be 20, but could rise to 30, similar to what Salim-Beasley has at Rutgers.
BGDG was started by Moore in 2015 and is an advocation organization based in Atlanta that provides coaching for girls in gymnastics. She has been a coach for more than 25 years and said Fisk and gymnastics go hand in hand.
"They have enough people who want to see these students thrive, that they can bring in 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."
Fisk, a member of the NAIA, has six sports for men (basketball, golf, soccer, indoor track, outdoor track and cross country) and now has seven for women (basketball, golf, volleyball, indoor track, outdoor track and cross country) with the addition of gymnastics.
Gymnastics will have at least five events in the fall of 2022 and can have compete against any school in Divisions I, II and III. Home meets will be held on campus inside the Henderson A. Johnson Gymnasium.
Glover said the team has plans to train at the Nashville Gymnastics Training Center and equipment for home meets will be supplied by Meet Authority Productions in Clarksville.
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This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Nashville HBCU Fisk University to welcome women's gymnastics in 2022