If you’re a Twitter user, you probably have an understanding of the reaction Anthony Nicodemo heard Tuesday to his news. The Saunders basketball coach was greeted with overwhelming support upon revealing to his players and the public that he was gay.
The 35-year old made the announcement during a meeting with his team on Monday. He had relayed his intentions to tell the players and their parents last week to the school district, which pledged its support.
Here’s the full story from Hoa Nguyen and Nancy Haggerty:
YONKERS — Anthony Nicodemo was in his late teens or early 20s when he began realizing and accepting who he was — a gay man. But it wasn’t until this week the now 35-year-old city resident decided to announce to the world who he was — a gay high school boys basketball coach.
Nicodemo, who coaches the Blue Devils at Saunders High School, told players and some of their parents Monday night before a summer basketball practice session that he is gay. The announcement makes him among the first openly gay high school boys basketball coaches in the area, coming off the heels of pro soccer player Robbie Rogers and NBA player Jason Collins, who announced earlier this year that they are gay.
“It was definitely a relief,” said Nicodemo, who also is a social studies teacher at the Greenburgh-North Castle school district’s Reach Academy, which serves special-education students. “The time was right. The social climate was right.”
Since his announcement, Nicodemo, who is also director of the Lower Hudson Basketball Association and Section 1 representative to the Basketball Coaches Association of New York, has been inundated with calls from people across the country.
“I think it will open a lot of coaches’ and athletes’ eyes,” Nicodemo said. “We’re out there.”
Players and parents were supportive of the coach, telling him how their perception of him remained unchanged, said Derrick Felder, 15, of Yonkers, one of the players at the meeting.
“It’s brave for him to come out and say it,” Felder said.
Henry Sassone, athletic director and 28-year boys varsity basketball coach at North Salem High School, who worked with Nicodemo in the late 1990s, described the coach as someone who is devoted to basketball and his students.
“He’s a very special individual in terms of his approach to the game and to the education part of athletics,” Sassone said.
Yonkers Superintendent of Schools Bernard P. Pierorazio said in a statement he learned of Nicodemo’s plans to tell his team he was gay through an email last week.
“At that time I told him the district would support him,” Pierorazio said. “I have always respected Anthony Nicodemo for his coaching prowess and for the tremendous amount of time and the effort he takes with the students.”
Receiving that support was a relief, Nicodemo said, because the fear of being fired had been his main reason for remaining silent about his sexual orientation.
“My main fear, always, was having my coaching taken away,” he said. “It’s what I do, what I love. That’s the fear. I love my kids to death.”