Fisk University and Talladega College, the first two HBCUs to have an organized gymnastic teams, were both featured last Friday, January 12 on Equality Night at the University of Florida’s Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

It was the first meet in history to feature two Historical Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) with second-year program Fisk and first-year Talladega.

Florida won the meet in front of 8,775 fans, with an overall score of 197.10, followed by George Washington (194.55), Fisk University (189.95) and Talladega (187.75)

Fisk University gymnasts were led by Coach Corinne Tarver, the first Black gymnast to win the 1989 NCAA all-around title. Tarver, who joined Fisk in 2022, was also named a U.S. National Team member during the 1985-1986 season. 

Talladega College gymnasts were led by Coach Aja Sims-Fletcher, who’s been with TU since February 2023. Sims-Fletcher is a Southeastern Conference (SEC) champion, who has coached at various levels, including collegiate, club, and high school. 

“We were excited to get in the gym and show everyone what we have been working on,” said Talladega head coach Aja Sims-Fletcher.

“We had some early nerves but our young team competed well in a tough environment for their first collegiate competition. We saw some good difficult skills tonight and saw where we can improve. It’s only up from here.”

Fisk University broke barriers in February 2022 when they announced its first ever HBCU gymnastics team. The team made their debut at the Super 16 gymnastics competition in Las Vegas, Nevada on Jan. 6.

Talladega College announced their gymnastics team last January, partnering with Brown Girls Do Gymnastics (BGDG) and the HBCU Gymnastics Alliance to create their gymnastics team. This past Friday’s gymnastic meet was Talladega University’s inaugural debut.

Both Fisk University and Talladega College have and continue to work with the Brown Girls do Gymnastics (BGDG) and the HBCU Gymnastics alliance. 

BGDG has worked towards the addition of gymnastics into HBCUs for just under a decade and hopes that the momentum of the movement inspired by Fisk University and Talladega College will help further this. BGDG will be hosting its 8th Conference in Atlanta this year.

Visit Fisk University and Talladega College gymnastics website to stay updated on the team’s latest news.

Click below to watch the full historical meet at University of Florida.