If you ever doubted the level fo security and togetherness a football team can have, take the story of Kansas State offensive lineman Scott Frantz as an example of just how important that relationship in the locker room can be.
In an interview with ESPN, Frantz shared the story of how he decided to come out and inform those around him he was gay. What may be amazing is Frantz said he told his teammates about it before he mentioned it to his own family.
The big reveal for Frantz came during an offseason team-building activity last year that asked each player to share a secret about themselves. It took a while for Frantz to come out to those close to him, as he said he came to grips with the fact he was gay during his junior year of high school even though he first knew he was gay in fifth grade. But the team atmosphere at Kansas State was just the environment Frantz may have needed to take the big step forward.
“I came out to my teammates, and I’ve never felt so loved and so accepted ever in my life than when I did that,” Frantz said to ESPN’s Holly Rowe. “And ever since then it’s been great. I’ve grown so much closer to my teammates since. So it’s been an amazing experience.”
According to the ESPN report, Frantz came out to his family a week later. It would seem the ability to come out and be accepted by his teammates was a huge hurdle cleared in the process and may have been needed for him to personally take the next step of coming out to his family.
“So the very first time I said those words were in front of, you know, 110, 120 football guys,” Frantz said. “So you can imagine how scared I was, how nervous I was. … This could go either really bad or could go really good. And thankfully my teammates embraced me with open arms, and it was great.”
Similar to the Michael Sam story is that Kansas State’s football program managed to respect and keep secure the privacy of Frantz, who started 13 games for the Wildcats with his teammates knowing he was gay and nobody breaking the silence for him during the course of a football season. Michael Sam came out to the public after his playing days at Missouri were over just ahead of the NFL Draft, but the entire Missouri football program knew Sam was gay for a full year.
Frantz will be one of the first two openly gay players to play FBS football this season. Incoming Arizona defensive end My-King Johnson will be the other. Frantz said it was important for him to reveal himself to the public so that it can encourage others to find the comfort they may need to come out as well. Making that announcement to friends and family can be intimidating for many, especially those who are younger and surrounded by an environment of peer pressure. Coming out and being true to yourself in the public eye may not ever be an easy thing to do, but here’s hoping that players like Frantz and Johnson are helping to make it a little bit easier for those struggling to keep their true identities secret.