Area coaches welcome Michael Sam news

Area coaches welcome Michael Sam news


Area coaches welcome Michael Sam news


When Art Troilo Jr. played football for Harrison in the late 1970s, the idea a teammate might be gay never crossed his mind.

Today, it’s a different world.

While no athlete has ever told the 28-year Harrison football coach he’s gay, Troilo, who believes it doesn’t matter if a kid is “from Mars” as long as he works hard, understands that “a certain percentage of basketball players, football players and doctors are gay.”

That’s why he considers NFL prospect Michael Sam’s announcement that he’s gay a positive thing.

“Every team has to have gay players on it,” Troilo said, describing some teenagers as “unsure.”

“You just want kids to be happy. … He’s helping a lot of young people say, ‘It’s OK.’ “

Dan Ricci has coached girls basketball for 23 years and football for 20-plus — including 10 as head coach — at Ossining. While he described football as still a little “hush-hush,” he said today’s kids don’t view sexual orientation as an issue.

Evidence might be found in the fact Saunders boys basketball coach Anthony Nicodemo, who drew national headlines with last year’s “I’m gay” announcement, hasn’t heard any taunts this season.

His players have supported him, even wearing rainbow-colored “Be True” T-shirts during game-opening warm-ups.

But football, considered the “more masculine” sport according to Nicodemo, has evolved into a much more scrutinized American obsession. Even Division III college kicker Conner Mertens’ announcement last month that he’s bisexual was widely reported.

Having the Southeastern Conference’s defender of the year say he’s gay has drawn that much more attention.

Nicodemo is a member of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Sports Coalition, whose goal is to “eliminate homophobia in sports by 2016.” He believes Sam’s announcement on top of others will lead more teens to become comfortable with themselves.

“It’s dominos,” Nicodemo said. “The kid is … going to be drafted somewhere. It’s a huge spot for the NFL. I hope the NFL embraces him. … Kids need to see someone be gay and be successful.”

Tappan Zee athletic director Liam Frawley believes the hoopla will soon subside, but that it’s good for kids to see “someone being himself.”

Worrying that soon-to-be NFL teammates might resent an unproven rookie being at the center of a locker-room media circus, Troilo said he hopes other gay NFL players come out. But he figures, ultimately, teammates and others will focus on Sam’s on-the-field performance.

“One thing about the NFL: It’s all about winning and dollars,” Troilo said.

Twitter @HaggertyNancy


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