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With a gay brother, Adelphi University soccer coach knows what his player is going through

Brandon Stoneham

College soccer player Brandon Stoneham writes a terrific coming out story for Outsports and opens with about how he told his coach at Adelphi University. The coach, Carlo Acquista, knows something about the difficulty of coming out through the experience of his younger brother Paolo.

“I totally know where [Stonerham’s] coming from because my brother had to come out to his Sicilian family and it wasn’t easy,” Acquista said.

Acquista, 32, is close to Paolo, five years his junior. Both played collegiate soccer and are business partners in New York. When Stoneham came out to him and told him he was going to write a story, Acquista thought it was “great.”

He recounts the conversation he and his player had:

“It’s funny, as we were talking, I had an idea. I don’t care, but I had an idea. When he was chatting with me, he goes, ‘Coach, I want to tell you I’m gay.’ I was like, I assumed it but I just want to let you know my brother’s gay. He’s been out for a few years now. He’s a little older than you.

"At the end, he said, ‘Coach, how did you know I was gay?’ I said, “Well, you wore a purple shirt with a black bow tie the other day. You dress pretty sharp. He started laughing.”

Stoneham’s openness is a sign of the strong team spirit on the Adelphi soccer team, Acquisa said, adding: “him coming out is unbelievable. He’s close with everybody.”

Acquista has built a winning program at Adelphi, going 40-25-9 in four years (34-14-6 over the past three seasons), winning the All-Atlantic Soccer Conference two years in a row and garnering coach of the year honors. Adelphi is a Division I program but its conference does not get an automatic bid to the NCAA soccer tournament, something the school hopes to remedy. As a player, Acquista was on the St. John’s soccer team that captured the NCAA title in 1996.

Stoneham, a forward, made the all-conference team this past season, and his coach listed the qualities that make him a good player. “He’s tough, he tenacious, he’s fit, he’s very coachable, he absorbs a lot of information. He’s a great teammate.”

In talking to Acquista, it’s clear that Stoneham made a terrific choice in where to go to school and play soccer. To have a supportive and upbeat coach is huge for any athlete, especially one coming out.