WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) – Fisk University and the College of William & Mary made history this weekend.
The Tribe’s women’s gymnastics team, with its first Black coach in program history, welcomed Fisk University, which is the first HBCU gymnastics team in NCAA Division I, for the first meeting between the two schools.
“Growing up as an African American gymnast, there were not a lot of us or a lot of individuals who look like us,” Tribe coach Kelsey Hinton said. “Just to be able to see a whole team of African American women and to be able to tell other Black girls that they have an opportunity to attend an HBCU also while continuing to do gymnastics, it’s just big.”
Before the meet, the crowd of nearly 2,000 cheered as Fisk coach Corrinne Tarver joined Tribe’s head coach Kelsey Hinton on the floor of the Kaplan Arena.
Tarver was the first Black gymnast to win the all-around in the NCAA championship 1989 while at Georgia.
“It was historic, there were tears in the crowd,” Hinton said. “I went to my administration and said, ‘You need to know how important this is that this is to me, how important it is to the Black community and how important it is to literally the world.”
Tarver and Hinton are two of four Black head coaches in women’s Division I gymnastics.
“That makes it even more special,” Hinton said.
Hinton believes more representation in the sport will help with recruitment and draw more fans to the sport.
“I want to make sure that I build a diverse team, that is my ultimate goal.”
After the meet, the York-James City-Williamsburg NAACP branch invited the team to dinner to honor their achievements and accomplishments.
W&M won overall with 190.025-189.550. Next Sunday, W&M will compete against Towson, George Washington and Fisk.