Saunders High School boys basketball coach Anthony Nicodemo won section Coach of the Year honors after posting an impressive 18-3 record and reaching the sectional semifinals in New York. This was just a few years after the team – under another head coach – had an O-fer season.

The award was particularly meaning for Nicodemo as it was granted to him after a vote of his peers in the section. Nicodemo came out publicly as gay almost two years ago and since has turned around a perennial losing program at Saunders High School. The recognition by his peers meant the world to Nicodemo.

During his acceptance speech he did not shy away from the broader cultural significance of his award:

"For a very long time I lived two separate lives, and the thought of having them collide absolutely terrified me. The support that my team gave me after I told them I was gay made me a better coach. My respect for them is immense and has created a bond that will never be broken. For years I believed they would run through a wall for me, and I watched to do them in every aspect of the word. …

"Lastly, there are way too many kids and coaches out there who stay closeted out of fear. This award proves you can be authentic, still be successful and embraced by your community, your peers and your team."

Thank you, Anthony, for your incredible leadership in the sports world. You are, by simply doing your job as a high school boys basketball coach, helping to change one corner of the world more than most will in a lifetime.

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