HBCU, Figure Skating

Howard University Makes History As First HBCU With Figure Skating Team

So icy! Howard University is making history as the first HBCU in the nation to have a figure skating team.

U.S. Figure Skating announced the news on Oct. 20, as the historically Black college in Washington, D.C. prepares for its inaugural season in the sport.

The idea to start an intercollegiate team was formed by seasoned skaters and Howard upperclassmen Maya James and Cheyenne Walker. Both young women thought their competition days were over upon matriculating through the school.

However, the two students refused to give up on their passion, instead joining forces to build a team at their beloved institute. James, a junior at Howard, spoke about why she decided to embark on this journey of bringing the figure skating to the Hilltop.

“I just missed the sport, honestly,” shared the psychology major. “I didn’t really skate that much during the pandemic; I stopped skating for like two years. As I was coming to college, I also saw a lot of the U.S. collegiate Instagram pages and how they went to competitions and how the competitions look so fun and welcoming.”

The scholars are reigniting a passion that started at around 7 years old for both of them, and hope to extend their love of figure skating to fellow Black students. Through their persistence, the team was officially recognized and funded by Howard University in summer 2023.

The team will be coached by Diversify Ice’s founder, Joel Savary, as part of the nonprofit’s mission to make figure skating more inclusive to underrepresented groups.

Access to the usually expensive activity is even more of a reason Walker and James pursued an official school team.

“I think what really was my driving passion to get this club up and running was the fact that figure skating is such an amazing sport, but not everybody has access to it,” shared Walker, a political science major in her final year at Howard. “Especially being on an HBCU campus, I thought it was so important for us to bring not only the sport to the campus but [make] sure it’s accessible and for everyone.”

The team will start their historic season in February 2024 in a competition at the University of Delaware.

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