Black Excellence and Breaking Barriers in Figure Skating and Beyond!

As we continue to build and strengthen our community through storytelling, today, through the presence and voices of renowned figure skaters, Atoy Wilson and Tai Babilonia (2x Olympian), our middle school students were gifted the inspiring story and legacy of Mabel Fairbanks who paved the way for people of color to compete in the sport of figure skating. As an African American and Native American woman, Mabel broke the color barrier in the world of figure skating and through her coaching and mentorship, she opened the doors for people of color to access the sport. She has coached and mentored elite figure skaters such as Atoy Wilson, Tai Babilonia, Debi Thomas and Naomi Lang. Our guest speakers, Atoy and Tai, shared their stories about how Mabel created opportunities for them and other people of color to pursue their passion for figure skating and to compete and strive for excellence in the sport that they love.  
Atoy Wilson is the first African American to win a U.S. National Figure Skating title and as well to acquire the gold figure skating test,
marking one of the highest levels that can be achieved in amateur skating. His competitive goal was to earn a berth on the 1972 Olympic Figure Skating Team; however, he retired from competitive figure skating. Atoy has been intricately involved in the sport of figure skating for more than 50+ years and as a former competitor, performer and manager, he has had the opportunity to work domestically as well as internationally in this field. 
Tai Babilonia is an Olympian and former pair skater. Together with Randy Gardner, she won the gold medal in the 1979 World Figure Skating Championships and five U.S. Figure Skating Championships (1976–1980). The pair qualified for the 1976 and 1980 Winter Olympics. Babilonia and Gardner began skating together at eight and ten years old when skating coach Mabel Fairbanks needed a young pair team for a skating show in Culver City, California. Their coach from 1971 until 1980 was John Nicks. They were medal favorites at the 1980 Winter Olympics but were forced to withdraw due to an injury to Gardner. Babilonia is the first figure skater of partial African American descent to compete for the United States at Olympics and win world titles. She is also part Filipino on her father's side and part Native American. 
We extend our gratitude to one of our parents, Lakesha Wilson, who worked with our team to make today's MS Black History Month assembly happen. We thank her for connecting our community to our amazing speakers and we are grateful for Atoy and Tai for gifting our community their time and inspiring stories.