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Moment #80: Sherri Murrell becomes first-ever publicly out coach in Div. 1 basketball

Sherri Murrell is a trailblazer in college basketball, living her life openly in Div. 1.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Part of Outsports’ series on our 100 most important moments in gay sports history.

Basketball, 2009: There are other lesbians coaching college basketball but Sherri Murrell is the only one who is open. Murrell coaches at Division 1 Portland State and she has had great success, taking her team to the NCAA's in 2010 and being named Big Sky coach of the year.

In a terrific profile of Murrell that ran this week in the Portland Oregonian, Rachel Bachman tells Murrell's story, along with posting some of the e-mails she has received from other coaches. She leads with this anecdote:

Sometime in summer 2009, Ryan Borde asked Portland State women's basketball coach Sherri Murrell if she wanted a family photo added to the team media guide. Sure, she said. The assistant media relations director uploaded to the athletics website a snapshot of Murrell and her partner, Rena Shuman, each holding one of their blond toddler twins, Rylan and Halle, and quickly forgot about it.

That image reverberated nationwide. Already out to people she knew, Murrell became known as the only publicly gay coach in Division I women's basketball.

While wanting simply to be known as a terrific coach, wife and mother, Murrell has not shied away from being an activist for the rights of gays and lesbians in sports.

"There are a lot of coaches out there that want to do this," Murrell said. "But they're just so afraid. I think I can kind of help say, 'Hey, I'm successful. It has not affected my program whatsoever.' "

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