Women’s gymnastics team becomes first at HBCU to compete at NCAA level
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV/Gray News) - When Fisk University gymnastics coach Corinne Tarver began to build her roster last year, she opened her conversation with recruits by asking them one simple question.
“Do you want to make history?”
A little less than one year later, the women have done just that as the gymnastics team has taken the world by storm.
“I love being able to take something that’s never been done and make it happen, but not just make it happen, make it amazing and spectacular,” Tarver said.
The Fisk University gymnastics team is the first historically Black college or university gymnastics program to compete at the NCAA level.
“I remember when we were walking out, it almost brought me to tears,” said freshman Liberty Mora. “Obviously, our crowd is going to cheer for us, but seeing everybody else supporting us has been a very overwhelming and exciting feeling.”
The team’s coach is no stranger when it comes to making history. In 1989, Tarver was the first Black gymnast to win the NCAA all-around championship.
Now, over 30 years later, she is ready to break yet another barrier.
“It is a challenge,” Tarver said. “I love a challenge. Starting a program from scratch or as an HBCU I know makes it significant and historic. So, this is pretty exciting and I’ve done that a lot in my gymnastics career.”
The program may be less than a year old, but it has already managed to make a significant footprint.
“We knew that we were going to get coverage,” Mora said. “People are going to notice, but we didn’t think it would be this big.”
Mora said the gymnastics program has become a big deal and the team is enjoying it.
“We’re embracing the love from everybody, and it is comforting,” Mora said.
Being the first HBCU gymnastics team hasn’t been the only reason for the attention. The team has star-studded talent as well.
Kentucky native Morgan Price de-committed from Arkansas to compete at Fisk. Price won the all-around championship at the University of Georgia’s quad meet.
“We have athletes beating big-time schools and showing we’re not just an HBCU team,” Tarver said.
The team said it hopes to open the door for other HBCUs to follow in their footsteps.
“We’re here to make an impact on the world,” Mora said.
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