Eric Lueshen had a brief career as a kicker on the University of Nebraska football team before injury sidelined him in 2005. He told Nebraska radio station KNTK "The Ticket" that he was openly gay while playing and accepted by the team, if not all his coaches. He was so out he even took a male date to the student-athlete formal.
My experience went from being a very scared and somewhat shy gay person on the team to a very welcomed and loved teammate of many.
Lueshen said that while head coach Bill Callahan (now with the Dallas Cowboys) was very accepting (and even shed a tear when Lueshen shared his story), not all the assistants were. "Overall, I would have to say my experience was a positive thing, but you have to weigh the good with the bad. .. I was just being myself," Lueshen said.
He said he was nervous but was not going to lie if asked if he was gay. After being received uncomfortably by the team, his path to acceptance was paved by two popular teammates:
Two of my really good friends on the team, Sean Hill and Corey McKeon, asked me at lunch one day, "We were just wondering if you were gay." I very honestly said, "Yes, is that a problem?" They were like, "Oh no, that's really cool. We all thought that you were, and we just wanted to know."
Basically, his teammates loved and embraced him while some coaches shunned him and sometimes said negative things. He did stress that other coaches were "very sweet to me," including the head coach. His response was to work his ass off and prove that "I'm not just the pretty boy kicker, as my nickname became. I was there as a good athlete." He redshirted in 2003 and had a injury that derailed his career in 2005 after he had the inside track to be the starting kicker. He now lives in Chicago.
Lueshen said that Michael Sam coming out helped spur him to share his story since he noted that he was out in 2003 in "one of the most conservative states in the country." He had come out at 17 while a junior in high school. Lueshen is a man who was ahead of his time and it's great he is telling his story.
The radio interview is in two parts: Part 1, Part 2. Lueshen is very articulate and the interviewer does a good job.
Lueshen now has a Twitter account.
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