Fisk University Becomes First HBCU to Compete in NCAA Women’s Gymnastics.

Fisk University has made history, becoming the first historically Black university gymnastics squad to compete at the NCAA level.

A First for Historically Black Colleges & Universities?

Fisk University has made history by becoming the first historically Black university gymnastics team to compete at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) level.

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Fisk University Becomes First HBCU to Compete in NCAA Women’s Gymnastics
Source: Chase Stevens/AP
Fisk University Becomes First HBCU to Compete in NCAA Women’s Gymnastics
Source: AP Photo/Mark Zaleski

How it Started.

When Frank Simmons suggested that his gymnast niece Jordynn Cromartie attend his alma mater, the historically black university Fisk, the absence of a gymnastics team was Jordynn’s biggest deterrent. Even by late 2021, HBCUs had never before competed at the NCAA level.

Miracles Happen.

Simmons promised his niece to bring a gymnastics team to life. And he meant business. In a matter of weeks, his initiatives resulted in a funded gymnastics program, complete with Head Coach Corrinne Tarver, known as the first Black gymnast to win an NCAA all-around title in 1989.

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Fisk University Becomes First HBCU to Compete in NCAA Women’s Gymnastics
Source: Chase Stevens/AP
Fisk University Becomes First HBCU to Compete in NCAA Women’s Gymnastics
Source: AP Photo/Chase Stevens

Black Gymnasts on The Rise.

While numbers are still low on college teams, there is progress. Black women currently account for nearly 10% of the scholarship athletes at the NCAA Division I level, an increase from 7% in 2012. More than 10% of USA Gymnastics members self-identify as Black.

A Strong Start for Fisk.

The Bulldogs debuted at the Super 16 event in Las Vegas on Jan. 6 against North Carolina, Southern Utah, and Washington, ultimately placing fourth.

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Fisk University Becomes First HBCU to Compete in NCAA Women’s Gymnastics
Source: AP Photo/Mark Zaleski
Slide 7 - Fisk University Becomes First HBCU to Compete in NCAA Women’s Gymnastics (source Chase Stevens_AP)
Source: Chase Stevens/AP

“I feel like I still don’t know how much of an impact we’re making on the world. It’s going to be really fun in the future to see what happens.”

– Jordynn Cromartie, Fisk University Gymnast

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