Howard University Makes History As The First HBCU To Have Ice Skating Team

A group of athletes from Howard University is making history as the first-ever HBCU figure-staking team. The intercollegiate skating team hopes to inspire other schools and future Black athletes.

Maya James, a Howard University student and avid ice skater was determined to bring the sport to school’s campus. As CBS News reports, James, a junior studying psychology, turned to Google to find other skaters. She ended up sliding into the direct messages of Cheyenne Walker, a senior studying political science in an effort to break the ice.

James and Walker have already seen how the new team has inspired younger generations.

“Honestly I would really like to see other HBCUs do figure skating teams as well. Get more black and brown boys and girls on the ice, be their representation for them,” said James.

Most of the young women on the team started skating at a very young age.

It took some convincing for these athletes and co-founders of the club to get the university to fund a non-division one sport.

Following several months of strategizing and recruiting, the team held its first practice in October at the Herbert Wells ice rink in College Park, 10 miles from campus.

Although not affiliated with the Howard athletic program, the team will skate in intercollegiate competitions. Their first competition takes place this weekend against the University of Delaware.

Because the school doesn’t have a rink and  D.C.’s only indoor facility is currently under construction, the team held outdoor skate sessions at the Canal Park ice rink near Nationals Park during the week.

Diversify Ice, a non-profit in Largo, MD that provides mentorship and scholarships for underserved figure skaters, has been instrumental in the team’s launch.

“Our entire team is really invested in this,” said Joel Savary, the organization’s founder. “Of course, the historical opportunity, but also it’s an opportunity to break barriers to get a brand new team up and running as a lot of challenges.”

“I still don’t think it’s fully hit me or I’ve processed it completely but I definitely do think it’s important to be in this space and watch how we are diversifying the sport,” said Walker.