First Gay NCCA Division II Basketball Player Comes Out
Derek Schell, 22, made history on Monday when he came out as the first openly gay NCAA Division II basketball player, via an open letter to OutSports, and LGBT sports website, saying he has never been happier.
"As a star athlete and a successful student, I held a high social rank at a prestigious Catholic high school," wrote Schell in OutSports. "For most 17-year-olds, that is a dream come true. For me, it was a nightmare."
Schell said that people expected him to "be an all-star, to help lead the basketball team to a state championship and to date a pretty girl." He did these things, but said he "felt alone, isolated by my feelings." He felt that he couldn't be a Christian and an athlete and also be gay, saying his daily activities were "consumed by this increasing need to hide my sexuality."
During his sophomore year of college, he met his partner Kevin of two years, online. He came out to his closest friends, "because I wanted to see who was really a true friend to me." He eventually told his family, and this month, told his teammates and coaches individually.
"They all respected me and recognized that nothing had changed and I was the same teammate and friend that I was before," wrote Schell. "Despite attending a conservative college, I have been accepted for who I am by those on my team and others close to me... I realized that I could be an athlete, be a friend, be a son, be a brother, be an artist and be gay as well."
Now, said Schell, his excitement and passion for basketball is at an all-time high. He is also excited to serve as an example for younger LGBT youth that they have nothing to fear and are perfect the way they are. He challenged them to be honest with themselves and to know that "God doesn't make mistakes."
On Oct. 7 via his Twitter, Schell wrote that he was, "Unbelievably overwhelmed with support, love, and inspiration. Today will be one of the greatest days of my life."