UMass men’s basketball coach Derek Kellogg called a team meeting last week at sophomore guard Derrick Gordon’s request.
The Minutemen sat and listened as their teammate told them a secret he’d kept for years.
Gordon told his teammates that he’s gay.
His decision to come out wasn’t an easy one — Gordon only had told his parents and Kellogg that he’s gay one week beforehand.
Gordon’s choice to become the first openly gay athlete in Division I basketball was spurred by mentoring he received from a network of supporters, including Wade Davis, Anthony Nicodemo and Jason Collins, among others.
“It was a rough process, actually, leading up to this,” Gordon told espnW’s Kate Fagan. “Those guys just helped me get to where I am right now. If it wasn’t for them, I’d be stuck.”
Davis, a former NFL player, is the executive director of You Can Play. Nicodemo is the head coach of the Saunders High School basketball team in New York and came out as gay last year. Collins, a former Boston Celtic and current Brooklyn Net, became the first openly gay athlete in professional sports when he came out last April.
Gordon’s mentors helped guide him through the difficult task of both accepting who he was and feeling comfortable letting others know. In revealing his secret to his teammates, Gordon was surrounded by support and acceptance.
“It ended up being kind of a short meeting,” Kellogg told Fagan. “The guys were like, ‘We’re behind you 100 percent. We cool?'”
Gordon’s coming out hopefully puts an end to what was a tumultuous process for the sophomore. Before coming out, he’d had to deal with teasing and rumors that came with his attempts to refute being gay.
Now, however, Gordon has the full support of his team and community. And while UMass basketball will face a new set of challenges next season, their coach believes Gordon’s choice will create a stronger team bond.
“I’m looking at this as something that brings our team closer together,” Kellogg said.
Photo via Twitter/@mashable