Beauty and grace!
UCLA Gymnasts are gracing the newest cover of Essence’s Girls United digital platform, Essence reports.
The NCAA Gymnastics championships are in motion, and Black girl magic is sprinkled everywhere. Black women like Dianne Durham, the first Black gymnast to win a U.S. national championship in 1983, and Dominique Dawes, the first Black female gymnast to win an individual Olympic medal in 1996, have pioneered a lane for a multitude of Black girls to come, including Olympic champions Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles, the most decorated woman gymnast in the history of the sport.
Now Essence’s Girls United platform celebrates the newest generation of trailblazers, spotlighting four University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Bruins team members on their spring digital cover. Chae Campbell, Nia Dennis, Margzetta Frazier, and Sekai Wright are extraordinary college athletes set to compete at the NCAA Gymnastics Championships this week in Fort Worth, Texas.
“As young Black women, it’s so satisfying that we can express and elevate our culture through our gymnastics,” Wright told Girls United.
The girls have already begun receiving love from fans worldwide, with 21-year-old Frazier recently going viral after a floor routine inspired by Janet Jackson. Jackson reposted Frazier’s performance saying she loved it.
“Being in a sport like this and seeing women of color rock the world really is a dream come true. Gymnastics has consumed so much of our lives with the concept of flipping and being perfect. But being recognized by Essence for bringing so much more to the table than just athletics truly is an honor,” Frazier expressed.
Sports journalist Cari Champion spoke about the newest superstar gymnasts, saying, “They’re giving you an entire sermon in the way they perform. These women took a traditional sport and gave it something extra special.”
Arielle Chambers, the founder of HighlightHER, echoed those sentiments, saying, “When I watch them on the floor, I feel just as much pride as I imagine they must feel performing their routines. If you’d told me in 2001 that I’d see stepping and pumping and voguing in a floor routine, I’d think you were lying. The young me needed them. The next generation deserves them.”
Dennis said that she’s just looking to touch people the best way she knows how. “My main goal was to inspire people to do what they love and to have fun and be their most authentic self. So if we have done that in any way, then I would definitely say that the goal has been accomplished,” she said.
Ultimately, the young women hope their presence helps increase diversity in the sport and carve a pathway for other young girls looking to become professional athletes.
“Having more representation and seeing people thrive, not just Black gymnasts, but also other races and ethnicities, is really encouraging for the young girls out there,” Campbell said.
Congratulations ladies! Because of you, we can!
(l to r) Sekai Wright, Margzetta Frazier, Nia Dennis, Chae Campbell. Photo Courtesy of Matt Sayles/Essence/Girls United