Howard University is now the first historically Black university in history to have an intercollegiate figure skating team.
The history-making team was founded by Maya James and Cheyenne Walker, two Howard University students who have been involved in the sport since childhood and longed to get back on the ice, U.S. Figure Skating reports.
“I just missed the sport, honestly,” James said. “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,” she told the outlet.
James and Walker did not know each other before connecting to create a team. It was during winter break last year that James came across an article about Walker, a fellow skater and Howard student. She reached out to Walker on Instagram and asked if she wanted to work together and officially establish a figure skating club.
“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 something that I wanted to see on our campus community.”
With little experience organizing a team from the ground up, neither knew where to start, but they were both motivated to bring skating to the school, they shared with U.S. Figure Skating. Walker, a political science major, drafted the team constitution, and both worked to develop the club’s budget and schedule.
Getting the club approved by Howard and U.S. Figure Skating was a challenging task, as they had to convince the university to fund the club and to embrace ice skating, which is not a Division I sport. That process took a full semester, but by the summer of 2023, Howard University’s figure skating team was officially formed, becoming the first intercollegiate team in the history of an HBCU.
With James serving as president and Walker serving as vice president, the club began recruiting talented student skaters. On October 7th, they held their first practice, and in February 2024, they will take part in their debut competition at the University of Delaware.