Openly gay high school basketball coach Anthony Nicodemo has led his Saunders High School boys basketball team to a league title just seven months after Nicodemo came out publicly. Nicodemo told Outsports he's been informed by a previous school coach that it's the team's first league title since 2001.
"This is the best I've ever had a team play," Nicodemo said. "It's pretty cool."
The Blue Devils are undefeated in the league (7-0), which is comprised mostly of other teams in Yonkers. They are 10-5 overall after starting 3-3 with a couple key players shuffling in and out of eligibility. Last weekend they participated in the Toyota Classic in Georgetown, Ky., where the team was awarded the Willhite Award for demonstrating exemplary sportsmanship. They wore Nike #BeTrue shirts in warm-ups at the tournament to show their support for their head coach.
Before Nicodemo took over as head coach of the team, the school had suffered several two- or three-win seasons and at least one winless season.
"The commitment is certainly the biggest change," Nicodemo said. "When I took over, I decided it was going to be a year-round program. This program goes 10 months a year now. Clearly the offseason shows in how good we are now."
Nicodemo said last season was a rocky road because the team couldn't play strong man defense or score well against a zone defense.
"Every time we stepped into the gym for the last year, half of the work was on man defense. And we worked on buiding an offense around attacking teh zone. And now we see a zone defense and we eat it up."
Nicodemo said this has been his favorite season yet not just due to the success of the team, but also because it's his first as a publicly out gay man.
"If you're able to live a healthy life, you're better able to do your job," he said. "I don't know if the winning is because I'm out, but my enjoyment of the season, that's a big part."
The team has three games left on its regular-season schedule.
Nicodemo recently spoke about inclusion and diversity at Bronxville High School with a couple representatives from GO! Athletes.
Watch the Saunders Blue Devils take on the Louisville Moore Mustangs:
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