Westbury's Sophia Pratt signed with Fisk University, the country's first HBCU Division I gymnastics team. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports. Credit: Newsday/Steven Pfost

For Sophia Pratt, gymnastics has been a part of her life since as early as she can remember. 

“My parents put me in gymnastics because I was always doing flips and trying to climb the walls so they figured I would be a natural,” said Pratt, who is Newsday’s Athlete of the Week. “I've loved it ever since and I just have such a strong passion for it.” 

The Westbury senior will continue her passion at the next level — a historic one. Pratt has committed to join the women’s gymnastics team at Fisk University in Tennessee, the first program of its kind at a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) to compete at the NCAA level. 

Pratt says being a college gymnast was something she was always interested in, but she also had dreams of attending a HBCU.

“I’ve always wanted to go to a HBCU but that was never an option so I never thought that it could happen,” Pratt said. “When I got the offer, it was so exciting. (It was) like a dream come true.” 

Fisk announced the program’s inception in 2022, and the inaugural season was this spring. Pratt will join another Long Island gymnast on the historical team — 19-year-old Kaylei McDonald of Valley Stream.

“It was an easy choice. When I visited Fisk, I was invited to a practice and the camaraderie (between the team) and the coaches was so nice. I could totally see myself there," Pratt said. 

Pratt has trained on Long Island since she was 5 years old at Gold Medal Gymnastics Garden City, Gold Medal Gymnastics Huntington, and most recently at New Image Gymnastics Deer Park. As a level 10 gymnast, Pratt has achieved the highest level in the USA Gymnastics Junior Olympics Program. She finished 10th in the all-around (34.850) and seventh on beam (9.025) and bars (8.800) at this year’s NY state Level 9/10 championships.

Pratt has also held a 4.0 grade point average throughout her four years at Westbury and is an AP student and a member of the National Honor Society. At Fisk, she will be studying pre-med and plans on attending medical school in the future. 

Added Pratt: “I’m honored to be able to be part of something so historic and iconic. I’m so excited and I can’t wait to get there.” 

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