Go Bulldogs!

I just read that Fisk University, an Historic Black College and University (HBCU) is the first to field an Elite women’s gymnastics team. It’s about time! There’s so much talent out there and now at least some girls/women of color will have a chance to succeed in this fine sport.

Before Title IX whenever the gleaming wood floor of the boys gym was replaced/refinished we girls had to go sit in temporary classrooms because it was unthinkable that the boys go without exercise for six weeks.

After Title IX and even now, there remain vast inequities in how girls sports are funded and treated. The boys still had wood floors in their gym and we had linoleum tiles over concrete, so I lived my high school gymnastics “career” with constant shin splints from the vault.

My parents thought it necessary to pay for private piano lessons. That was in the sixties and seventies when public schools still had music programs, so my violin lessons and orchestra and choir were included. I also had to attend private ballet lessons for comportment, or as my mother told me, so I wouldn’t grow up walking like a truck driver. But most parents couldn’t afford that for their kids.

Outside of the high school gymnastics team, of which for some ungodly reason I was made captain, I chose to also take lessons at a private gym owned by a former Olympic champion. That wasn’t deemed necessary by my parents so I taught the little kids two classes each Saturday so I could take my class for free. I was never a good gymnast, but I fell in love, as did many young girls, with Olga Korbut at the 1972 Olympics, and I made a very good captain and teacher regardless of my limited athletic abilities.

Now little girls have so much to look forward to as they strive to emulate Simone Biles, Dominique Dawes and many others. I wish the girls at Fisk much success. Go Bulldogs! Dee


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