It took a lot of courage for Jason Collins to come out once his NBA career was done, millions have been made and he already had a Sports Illustrated article, Oprah interview and Nike spokesperson deal lined up but I think it took a lot more courage to do what 35 year old high school basketball coach Anthony Nicodemo did. After meeting Jason Collins at a LGBT sports summit in Oregon, the Yonkers coach had a meeting with his young players and a few of their parents and told them that he was gay.
“I mean this from the bottom of my heart that this is the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life,” he said. “But I am a gay high school basketball coach.”
What makes Nicodemo’s decision so bold is that he’s dealing with very young and probably a few immature and ignorant kids (and parents) and he doesn’t have millions of dollars or a Nike contract to fall back on if the players and school react poorly to him coming out, but thankfully, the school, his players and the parents were in full support.
“At the end of the day, we have to get in the gym and work on our game,” Saunders junior guard Joe Nolan said. “We can’t worry about what people say to us or what people are going to think. We are here to play basketball. If you have love for the game, it doesn’t matter if your coach is gay or not, you’re going to play for the love of the game.”
Another Saunders player, Derrick Felder, tweeted after practice: “Saunders just became a stronger team. Love my team.”
“He’s been with us all for all these years,” said Donna Nolan, who has two sons currently in the Saunders basketball program and another who played for Nicodemo three years ago. “He’s a great guy, a great coach. He’s like a father and a brother all in one to these kids. What he does outside of school, that’s his business.”
You can read more about Nicodemo’s story in this article by Kevin Devaney at MSG Varsity