Fisk University‘s women’s gymnastics, which recently made history as the first HBCU gymnastics program to compete at the NCAA level, will be the subject of an upcoming docuseries.
“Flipped” (working title) will follow the 2023 Inaugural season of college gymnastics’ only all BIPOC team as they navigate the pressures of their first season while challenging the stereotypes and norms in women’s athletics. Filmmaker Deborah Riley Draper (“Olympic Pride, American Prejudice”) and Baller Alert Films CEO Robin Lyon (“All In”) originated the project. They will serve as executive producers alongside Gail Lyon (“Pistol”) and Paul Lee (“Mare of Easttown”) and Hope Hartman (“The Summer I Turned Pretty”) from wiip, and Fisk University.
With no university gym of their own, Coach Corrinne Tarver and her gymnastics team at Fisk University aim to take on the best in NCAA gymnastics without mitigating or changing who they are as women of color.
The series features unprecedented access to the coaches, student athletes, parents, and administrators at Fisk University and the trials and triumphs of HBCU sports.
Fisk’s history-making gymnastics team includes several Division-I athletes who de-committed from high-profile programs. Just four months after the team’s first practice, Fisk University became the first HBCU gymnastics squad to compete at an NCAA event, taking the mat at the 2023 Super 16 gymnastics invitational in Las Vegas, NV. 17-year-old Morgan Price, a Fisk University freshman, competed in all four individual events, earning the meet’s highest score (9.9) on the vault.
“This is the most aspirational coming-of-age sports story of the year. We have not seen this before and its happening in real time. My work as a filmmaker has always and will always be about unpacking and centering stories of extraordinary Black women as they navigate the intersection of race, gender, and class. Watching this unfold in gymnastics will be a blueprint and a lesson for equity and access, said Riley Draper.
“I am so honored to see this story brought to light in a documentary series. Following this team as it makes history and sharing the courage and fearless nature these student-athletes bring to the mat every day is inspiring to all,” said Coach Tarver.
Fisk University Executive Vice President Jens Frederiksen added, “Fisk University has always been at the forefront of social justice and impact from W.E.B DuBois, to Diane Nash, and Nikki Giovanni. This remarkable gymnastics team continues this unique legacy by paving the way for the next generation of HBCU athletics and Black gymnasts.”
The university’s gymnastics program is the brainchild of impassioned mother Terricka Cromartie, who said, “Creating a safe and inclusive space for female athletes of color to compete and thrive was of great importance to me.” Cromartie’s uncle, Frank Simmons, a Fisk University trustee, said, “From the beginning, we wanted every black or brown girl who wanted to have an HBCU experience to not have to choose between gymnastics and her culture.”