WEST LONG BRANCH - Derrick Gordon's revelation that he is gay is in the news now, but many hope that such revelations may be an everyday element of college athletics.
"Just finally being able to come out and express myself, it's the best feeling ever," Gordon says.
Rachelle Paul says Monmouth Athletics has held an annual conference of coaches and staff for decades on the issue of gay athletes. The department and university now offer tangible support for any athlete wondering about coming out.
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"I think that anything that makes their experience specifically better and can make them comfortable and make them perform, that's what we're here to do," Paul says.
At UMass, support for Derrick Gordon came with a discussion that included a professor who counseled Gordon on his decision.
Monmouth Athletics says its coaches have also been instructed to have open dialogue with any athlete on issues of identity. "If there is an opportunity where a student athlete were to come out, they would absolutely be supported," Paul says.
Ultimately, Monmouth's support is aimed to achieve the goal of keeping athletes focused. "Having them be comfortable with whatever sexuality or whatever it is they're dealing with is something we can be proud of here at Monmouth," Paul says.
Derrick Gordon said he was inspired by NBA player Jason Collins, who also recently came out.