Get ready to watch Fisk – Other gym news – Thoughts from Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos
The IX: Gymnastics Saturday with Lela Moore, Sept. 24, 2022
Fisk University’s gymnastics team received a $25,000 check from Kendria Strong, CMO of the hair care company Aunt Jackie’s Curls & Coils, on the Jennifer Hudson Show this week.
This is a huge deal for the Fisk program, which begins its inaugural season in January. The athletes have begun training. It was Zyia Coleman’s viral TikTok of the team’s first practice that caught Hudson’s attention. Strong, herself an HBCU alumna, said that she was “so proud” to support Fisk and its historic debut with her donation.
There is a lot to look forward to in college gym this year. We have some big coaching changes at UCLA and at Alabama. Georgia’s entire program has been turned inside out, the change shaken out, and now we’re looking to see what came out in the wash. Oklahoma’s about to join the SEC, and UCLA’s about to join the Big Ten. Florida’s champing at the bit for a national title.
We have big debuts: Kayla DiCello, Ciena Alipio, Olivia Greaves, Emjae Frazier, Faith Torrez, and redshirt Morgan Hurd to name just a few.
But what Fisk has done makes this the school to watch this season, and they are not even part of the NCAA (they will compete as part of the NAIA). Created an entire gym program from scratch, the first HBCU to have one. Hired the first Black female NCAA gymnastics champion, Corrine Tarver Wright, as its coach. Recruited stars, including a few – like Morgan Price and Jordan Cromartie, both of whom are in the video above – who decommitted from other programs for the opportunity to compete at an HBCU. Opened a space in a largely white sport for Black women to thrive.
An HBCU gymnastics program has long been a dream deferred for many. Tia Kiaku, the Alabama gymnast who left that team over allegations of racism, spoke to me earlier this year about her desire to help build a gymnastics program at an HBCU. And even though it is too late for Tia herself, her story has inspired others to write a different one at Fisk.
Something tells me it will be a happy ending at last.
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Other gym news
The updated roster is here. Notable shake-ups since last we spoke: Shilese Jones won’t compete bars, Jordan Chiles will only compete bars, and Jade Carey won’t compete floor. Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos (see Five at The IX, below) will skip vault. Rebeca Andrade will do only vault and bars. Carolann Heduit of France and Nina Derwael of Belgium have withdrawn.
Here’s the Brazilian delegation dancing in front of the Eiffel Tower, courtesy of international treasure Rebeca Andrade:
International Gymnast posted training footage from Jade Carey and Shilese Jones.
Two Maltese gymnasts, Tara Vella Clark and Ella Borg, qualified for worlds. Malta has never qualified gymnasts to worlds before – super cool!
The second part of Tasha Schwikert’s interview on the What Makes You Think? podcast is out.
What Makes You Think? host Nicole Langevin also interviewed Corrie Lothrop, 2008 Olympic alternate, about her gymnastics experience. Part one is out this week.
UCLA Gymnastics had a dance party in Pauley Pavilion.
Laurie Hernandez spoke to 1010WINS in New York about the significance of her Puerto Rican heritage, in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. Hernandez, a New Jersey native (and thus presumably very familiar with the 1010WINS theme song preceding traffic alerts) is studying acting at NYU. You can listen to the interview here.
The dismissal of charges against former Michigan State gymnastics coach Kathie Klages will stand, per the Michigan Supreme Court this week. Klages was found guilty in 2020 of lying to a police officer in the course of the 2018 investigation against Larry Nassar. The Michigan Court of Appeals overturned the verdict and vacated Klages’ conviction in December.
An Indiana gymnastics coach was convicted on three counts of child molestation.
Five at The IX: Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos
Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos did an interview on French television (turn on the English subtitles in YouTube) about training at World Champions Centre. De Jesus Dos Santos will return to elite competition this weekend at the Paris World Cup after taking a break following the Tokyo Olympics.
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