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'We're doing it for them': Texas gymnast decommits from SEC school for spot on first HBCU gymnastics team

In February, Fisk University announced it will be the first HBCU with a collegiate gymnastics team.

COPPELL, Texas — Coppell High School graduate Morgan Price will make history this fall with her teammates at Fisk University.

"One of my goals in life was to go to an HBCU and be a college gymnast," Price said.

In February, Fisk University announced it will be the first HBCU with a collegiate gymnastics team.  

"I was just scrolling through Instagram. I saw it, and I was like 'whoa'," Price said. 

The 17-year-old trains at Texas Dreams Gymnastics in Coppell. She had already committed to the University of Arkansas last November when she found Fisk's announcement.  

"I had to call my coach at Arkansas and de-commit," Price said. "It was a hard conversation for me because I know I had worked hard for that, and she had given me so many opportunities...Most gymnasts don't even get an offer to an SEC school. I was super grateful."

Morgan's mom, Marsha Price, said she remembers listening to her daughter making that phone call. 

"It was like she just decided," Marsha Price said. "It doesn't matter that it's not NCAA. It doesn't matter that it doesn't have all the bells and whistles, you know. Fisk doesn't even have a gymnastics training center on-site yet. This was definitely something that was a huge sacrifice for Morgan, but it was the conviction for her."

Corrinne Tarver, Fisk's head gymnastics coach, said she was surprised when she got an email from Morgan Price asking about joining the team. 

"That was a huge leap of faith," Tarver said. "It really was. I’m so blessed that Morgan took that leap of faith with me. This was building a program out of nothing. She took that leap, even though I didn’t have all the answers at the time."

In her recruiting, Tarver said she's met many young Black gymnasts with dreams of pursuing the sport in college but had to choose between gymnastics and attending an HBCU. 

“It was a story I’d heard from so many of the girls, and I didn’t realize how much of a need it was," Tarver said. "I knew it was important. I knew the need was there. I guess I didn’t grasp how big of a deal it was.”

Tarver was a gymnast at the University of Georgia, where she broke records and earned multiple national titles. 

"When I went to Georgia, I was the first Black gymnast to go to Georgia," Tarver said. "You could count on your hands how many Black gymnasts were in college gymnastics back then."

While the space has grown diverse, she said an HBCU team will only push that mission forward. 

"Now, it's a different door," Tarver said. 

Tarver said her goal was to recruit 15 women for her team. She's met that goal. Now, she said, she's being intentional about giving opportunities to gymnasts who may have been overlooked by recruiters from larger schools. 

"We have the potential to have an absolutely amazing team, so I’m excited about it," Tarver said.

When Morgan Price heads to Nashville in a few weeks, she will be going back home. She spent her early childhood in the Nashville area and trained at a gym in Lebanon, Tennessee. Her mother moved Morgan and her two sisters to North Texas for more training flexibility and a fresh start after their father passed away in a motorcycle accident. 

"Everything we do is for him and for us to be able to make him proud because we know, if he was still with us he would want us to take the chances that we do and work hard every day," she said. 

As part of a growing trend of Black athletes choosing historically Black colleges and universities over larger schools, Price said maintaining and building a legacy is her focus. 

"I'm proud of not only me but, you know, other African-American athletes," Price said. "It's kind of like we're doing it for our ancestors. We're not just doing it for us. We're doing it for them. They made these schools."

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