Howard University Makes History With First HBCU Figure Skating Team

Howard University will become the first HBCU to have a figure skating team compete in a competition.

According to NPR, the historically Black squad will partake in its first intercollegiate competition at the University of Delaware during the weekend of Feb. 23. 

The nonprofit Diversify Ice will support the newly founded team. Diversify Ice’s mission is to provide mentorship and scholarships for underserved figure skaters. The program also assists with the schools’ skating program. Howard’s figure skating team is comprised of 14 members. However, only seven of the squad members will compete in the upcoming competition. 

Diversify Ice’s founder, Joel Savary, serves as the team’s head coach. Board member Joy Thomas is also attached to HU’s skating squad as a coach. 

(Photo by Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

In an article with U.S. Figure Skating, team members spoke about their ambitions, including inspiring more Black and brown boys and girls to hop on the Ice. Maya James and Cheyenne Walker, founder and co-founder of the team, both expressed their love for the sport. The ladies also asserted how important it was for them to bring the concept to HU. James and Walker also expressed their desire to inspire more HBCUs to bring the sport to their campus. 

“I just missed the sport honestly,” James expressed. “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.”

“When Maya reached out to me, I was so excited because I was speaking to other girls from Figure Skating in Harlem who go to Howard and we would always speak about how we wish there was skating, but we didn’t know how to go about it,” Walker said. “So, when Maya was like, ‘Yeah, I want to start this,’ I was on board for sure because it’s definitely something that I wanted to see on our campus community.”