Morgan State University is the first HBCU to offer students acrobatics and tumbling as a Division I scholarship sport. The Bears head coach, Regina Smith was hired to build the first-ever program. The university has also added a wrestling team, along with tumbling for women athletes to remain in Title IX standards.

“I had built a successful Division III program from scratch without being able to offer scholarships,” Smith said. “Morgan offered me the job, and here I am. My previous experience building something from the ground up helps in terms of getting this program launched.”

Football, Acrobatics, and tumbling are the only American sports to be founded at a college level, according to Baltimore Banner. In 2020, it became an NCAA-sanctioned sport. Across Divisions I-III, there are about 60 programs and counting, and the number is expected to grow according to BaltimoreBanner. Stevenson University, in Owings Mills, formed a team in 2021.

Smith has selected 20 incoming freshmen from across the U.S. to join Morgan’s inaugural team. The remaining members of the team were former cheerleaders, gymnasts, and athletes who were already on campus. Three of the young women are on full scholarships, while the other 21 members received partial scholarships and five are walk-ons.

“Right now, we’re just getting our girls prepared for this first season,” Smith said. “But sometimes I sit down and reflect about my ancestors, the opportunities and educations that they weren’t afforded, and ponder the real heaviness of what’s happening here. This is definitely history in the making. People are asking me, ‘Coach, what does it feel like to be making history?’ I just think it’s something we won’t know the significance of until 20 or so years from now.”