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N.Y. high school hoops coach comes out as gay to team, is immediately supported

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Anthony Nicodemo didn't have to tell anyone. He was a successful and influential basketball coach, leading the Yonkers (N.Y.) Saunders Trade and Tech High basketball program. He has been there for four years and is universally respected, perhaps even beloved.

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Saunders basketball coach Anthony Nicodemo told his players he is gay, and was universally supported — MSG Varsity screenshot

Saunders basketball coach Anthony Nicodemo told his players he is gay, and was universally supported — MSG Varsity …

Nicodemo didn't have to come out of the closet to his team, admitting he was gay for the first time. Yet he did, and he did it because at the end of the day, he couldn't look his teen athletes in the eye and tell them to be true to themselves if he wasn't true to his own identity.

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Saunders coach Anthony Nicodemo, who recently came out to his team — Twitter

Saunders coach Anthony Nicodemo, who recently came out to his team — Twitter

With that, spurred on by his confidence in discovering other homosexual coaches online and the inspiration of Jason Collins' article in Sports Illustrated, Nicodemo gathered the Saunders basketball team and told them he was gay.

He had decided that he had to come forward honestly after attending the Nike LGTB Sports Summit, and there was no way forward without opening up to his entire program, from the school's principal to his entire roster.

The reaction, the coach told OutSports, was nothing short of inspiring.

"It was humbling," Nicodemo told OutSports. "Very quickly the kids started to speak. A couple of the kids said, 'Who cares? Coach has done more for us in our lives than anyone else. We love him and we've got to focus on our goals.'

"[The team meeting was] the most satisfying moment of my basketball career."

Considering what Nicodemo has already accomplished at Saunders, that is truly saying something. Saunders had won less than a dozen total games in the four seasons leading up to Nicodemo's appointment in 2009. By 2011, the team was in the playoffs, even hosting a state tourney game.

For Nicodemo, those victories are secondary to the impact he has had on his athletes, who wasted no time in supporting his decision on Twitter.

Naturally, that's a class act by the players, following in the footsteps of their coach. Few things could be more fitting.

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