Fisk makes history again with gymnastics meet featuring all-Black coaches

Already home to America's first HBCU gymnastics team, Fisk University hosts a joint meet in January that will unite America's Black women head gymnastics coaches.

The Fisk University Lady Bulldogs are continually making history.

Already home to America’s first HBCU gymnastics team, the Nashville, Tennessee-based Black college will host a joint gymnastics match on Jan. 15, 2024, at Vanderbilt University’s Memorial Gymnasium, bringing together the nation’s only African-American women head gymnastics coaches for the competition, according to Fisk Athletics. Brown, Iowa State, Rutgers, Talladega and William & Mary universities will join Fisk to compete under one roof for the first time. 

The meet celebrates African-American involvement in gymnastics and is considered an official event of Nashville’s Martin Luther King, Jr. week of celebration.

Fisk University
Fisk University in Nashville announced the formation of the first HBCU Intercollegiate Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Team in February 2022. Fisk is set to host a joint match in January uniting America’s Black women head gymnastics coaches. (Photo credit: Fisk University)

“This will be the first event of this kind in the history of our sport,” said Fisk’s head gymnastics coach, Corrinne Tarver. “There are some more exciting things that will be happening around it. Vanderbilt has been a great partner. We are glad that the Nashville MLK Day Committee is also a partner. We want the whole city to come out to watch.”

Tarver, the event’s visionary, expressed delight when Vanderbilt accepted the request to participate in organizing it. She believes the meet will recognize African-Americans’ contributions to the sport, foster inclusivity and encourage more people to participate in gymnastics.

Fisk announced the formation of the first HBCU Intercollegiate Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Team in February 2022. At the time, the university emphasized its focus on “increasing its athletic profile considering the growing interest among student-athletes for an elite HBCU experience,” previously reported.


Tarver, the first Black gymnast to win an all-around championship in the National Collegiate Athletic Association while at the University of Georgia, was named head coach of her squad in March.

Last year in August, a TikTok video showing Fisk University student gymnast Zyia (@zyiaalexys on TikTok) and her teammates springing, flipping and spinning at its first gymnastics practice went viral, amassing over 750,000 views and 290,000 likes. 

“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,” Tarver noted previously, according to “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.”

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