We were still toasting Jason Collins signing to the Brooklyn Nets when another athlete outing came down the line: Matt Kaplon, a 21-year-old starting catcher for the Drew University Rangers, came out to his teammates over the weekend.
“Everyone tells me that college is supposed to be the best four years of my life,” Kaplon told OutSports. “I’ve had a great time but, for three and a half of them, I’ve been hiding things and not being the real me. Building friendships and meeting people and with my teammates, they know part of me but I finally feel like I want them to know everything. I want to be me 100% and make sure they know I’m not hiding anything. I’m ready for that. I’m ready to start not having to hide.”
So far, Kaplon—who batted .327 last year with 49 RBI—has been meet with uniform support by his teammates: “He’s the same exact Matt as he’s ever been,” says shortstop Anthony Feltre. ”It’s one of the best things he’s ever done because it’s made us closer friends. It doesn’t change a thing. If anything, since he told me this really personal thing we’ve started hanging out more and talking about more serious things.”
“He’s as close to a family member as anyone I’ve ever coached,” Rangers head coach Brian Herschberg told OutSports. “He’s like a younger brother to me. When Matt shared his story with me, I respected him more— if that’s even possible.
Coach Hirschberg admits Matt is helping to create a generation of athletes accustomed to playing with gay teammates.
“When you don’t know there is a gay person around, you use ‘faggot’ and ‘gay’ because you’re not putting a face to that word,” he says. “The 37 other teammates and three other coaches we have will now have to become