NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — For a group of 16 girls at Fisk University, it’s one thing to defy gravity, but it’s another to do the same with tradition.
"I feel like we have something to prove," said freshman Zyia Coleman. "We have like, you know — everyone is watching us."
That is, everyone is watching something special take flight.
"Growing up, I was mostly one of the only African American gymnasts on my team," said freshman Morgan Price. "So to be able to train every day, live with them — with people who look like me — it's just so amazing."
With each leap and every flip, the ladies are making history.
"I was like, 'I actually don't want to go to college if it's not an HBCU, but I still want to do gymnastics,'" said Coleman. "So, literally two months later, my friend texted me Fisk was having a gymnastics team and I was like 'oh my gosh.'"
Among all historically Black colleges and universities, this women’s gymnastics team is a first.
At the helm is coach Corrinne Tarver.
"I was the first Black gymnast to ever go to Georgia, and then I was also the first Black gymnast to win the NCAA All-Around title," she said.
The team of girls comes from across the country.
"A lot of them are what I would call a diamond in the rough — meaning, many have never experienced this kind of spotlight," Tarver said. "I am definitely throwing them in the deep end. We have some big-time teams that we are going up against this year."
As training begins, there's no mistaking the support these girls have for each other — support that also extends across the country.
"I know that we have gotten a lot of love throughout the gymnastics community," said Tarver. "A lot of people are excited to see what Fisk team will look like when we get out on the floor, and there's a lot of support for us to be successful, so that helps a lot."
With all eyes on them, these "diamonds in the rough" are ready to shine.
"I'm sure there are lots of African American little girls who want to be an HBCU gymnast like us," said Price. "So, I'm just super proud of me and my teammates for choosing this decision to pave a way for the younger girls."