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Out volleyball player a 'rock' on his team

Brice Dahlmeier hears anti-gay slurs on road but tries to laugh them off



Reprinted with permission

Brice Dahlmeier is not easy to define.

He’s an elite athlete, winning the 2005 Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League boys volleyball MVP award while at Aptos High and starting for the UC Santa Cruz men’s team since his freshman year. He’s a brainiac, currently earning two separate undergraduate degrees, one from UCSC in environmental science and one at UC Berkeley in civil engineering. And, he’s concerned about world and environmental issues.

He’s also gay — which he considers a part of who he is, but not the entirety.

“At away games, there’s hecklers and whatnot,” Dahlmeier said. “It’s common to hear ‘You’re gay’ [or] ‘Nice hair, faggot.’ It’s an easy insult. I just kind of shrug it off as ignorance. Being gay isn’t something that defines a person. It’s just a part of who I am. I just kind of have to ignore it, I guess, laugh it off.”

Dahlmeier came out to his closest friends last February, then later to his parents, his coach and his UCSC teammates. It wasn’t easy, he said, but ultimately it was liberating.

“I realized I am probably going to lead a happier life for myself if I’m honest with myself and with my friends,” Dahlmeier said. “And that’s exactly what happened. My relationships got deeper, and so far it’s been a good decision.”

Dahlmeier said that his decision to come out was aided by a Web site he’d seen: Outsports.com, a sports news site with over 11,000 users currently registered. He realized that being gay and being an athlete weren’t mutually exclusive.

“It’s an online community of gay athletes,” Dahlmeier said. “So that was part of the realization, that there are actually other gay people like me.”

Before coming out to his teammates, Dahlmeier confided in coach Jonah Carson, who also coached him at Aptos High. After that, the two invited several players on the team into Carson’s office and Dahlmeier told his team that he is gay.

“That’s the mark of a really good teammate or friend,” Carson said. “That you can say something like that, take a risk, and they respond positively. They said, ‘OK.’ Just OK, no big deal. It’s fine with us. It’s not something that even comes up.”

Dahlmeier said having a strong support system of friends and teammates who know and accept that he is gay helps him deal with the sometimes painful jawing and heckling he receives in the world of varsity sports.

Carson pointed to Dahlmeier’s leadership on the team as a reason that players are unconcerned with his sexuality.

“I really think it’s easy for the guys in the game to have [Dahlmeier] next to them and feel confident that, hey, that’s Brice, he’s a rock,” Carson said. “The guys see his work ethic, who he is, how he plays. And what they see is a guy who’s there early, who does all the things teammates want him to do.”

On the court, Dahlmeier, a 6-foot-3 outside hitter, is quiet and unassuming. He isn’t the kind of player who beats his chest after a key block. But he is one of the Slugs’ best. Carson calls him one of the key players on the team, which has its eyes on returning to the NCAA Division III Final Four tournament.

“He’s such a consistently strong player. It’s a really nice thing to have. You like someone who can score points, but you also like guys who don’t give away points.”

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Dahlmeier's player profile

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