In early January, Fisk University became the first HBCU to compete in NCAA gymnastics.
The Nashville school and its team will now be the subject of a docuseries from filmmaker Deborah Riley Draper and wiip.
Flipped (w/t) will follow 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. With no university gym of their own, Coach Corrinne Tarver and her gymnastics team at Fisk University, consisting primarily of first-year college students, aim to take on the best in NCAA gymnastics without mitigating or changing who they are as women of color.
The series features access to the coaches, student athletes, parents, and administrators at Fisk University and the trials and triumphs of HBCU sports.
The team, which included several Division-I athletes who de-committed from high-profile programs, took the mat at the 2023 Super 16 gymnastics invitational in Las Vegas, NV earlier this month with 17-year-old Morgan Price, a Fisk University freshman, competing in all four individual events, earning the meet’s highest score (9.9) on the vault.
Deborah Riley Draper, director of Olympic Pride, American Prejudice, and Robin Lyon, CEO of Baller Alert Films, originated the project. They will exec produce alongside with Gail Lyon, Hope Hartman and Paul Lee from wiip, and Fisk University.
“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.
Tarver said, “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.”
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.”
Riley Draper is repped by CAA, Management 360 and Lichter Grossman Nichols Adler Feldman & Clark. Lyon is repped by Lichter Grossman Nichols Adler Feldman & Clark. Larry Kopeikin of Kopeikin Law repped Gail Lyon.