As a shooting guard for UMass-Amherst's baskteball team, Derrick Gordon knows how to keep cool under pressure. In 2014, he became the first men's basketball player in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I to come out as gay, and received a whole new sort of scrutiny.
"I just didn't want to hide anymore, in any way," Gordon explained to ESPN. "I didn't want to have to lie or sneak. I've been waiting and watching for the last few months, wondering when a Division I player would come out, and finally I just said, 'Why not me?' "
Gordon told his team with the support of his coach Derek Kellogg, Wade Davis from You Can Play, and openly gay high school basketball coach Anthony Nicodemo. It followed some teasing from teammates who suspected that Gordon might be gay, and nearly an entire school year of not going out, not partying, and not socializing very much.
"Most of the time when you see me on campus, I'm alone," he said. "I eat alone a lot. Since the school year started in September I haven't been to one party."
Since then, Gordon has shown confidence and professionalism on and off the court, receiving support from other out athletes--including Michael Sam, Britney Griner, and Jason Collins--and has remained an inspiration for young athletes as they continue to strive to be the best in their respective sports.