Nathan Novosel was the captain of the Univ. of Rochester men's basketball team for the 2011-12 season. In his senior season for the Yellow Jackets he was the team's second-leading scorer and second in blocked shots en route to a 17-8 record for the Division III squad. While Novosel was with the team he was honored for his academic achievements.
Yet he was struggling with his identity as a gay man at the center of a machismo-driven university sports team 80 miles east of Buffalo.
Now he's working for Teach For America and on Tuesday posted this very personal reflection on his life for the organization:
Many factors drive us to achieve in life. Until I was 22, one of my key motivators was the fear that people would find out who I really was—a gay man—and not accept me.
As a result, this fear kept me constantly busy. Sure, others saw me perfecting my hook shot at Lexington Catholic High School, receiving their Boy of the Year Award for an unprecedented four years in a row, and double majoring in economics and political science at the University of Rochester, while leading the men's basketball team as a starter and captain. But what I saw was someone who jam-packed his schedule to distract myself from the constant fear of being found out.
It took me a long time to find a better motivator: happiness. My coming out coincided with being accepted into Teach For America and starting to teach third-grade math and science as an openly gay man. It started to become clear to me how I could turn my once deepest shame into my strongest asset.
Novosel happens to have played high school basketball for the same Kentucky school - Lexington Catholic - that hosted the game in which Dalton Maldonado alleges he was harassed for being gay.
Novosel is now engaged to marry his fiancé, John Lingat. I'd say he's figured out how to live his life openly and be true.
He told Outsports that he has received incredible support since the story ran earlier this week:
"The reaction has been truly remarkable. There has been so much positivity around the piece. I can't thank Teach For America enough for giving me the platform to share my story and experience. My hope is that my story will continue to be shared with students who may be closeted and that they may find solace that it is possible to be happy one day."
It's hard to summarize his story better than Novosel did for Teach For America. So we'll leave it at that and send you over to his great column.
Novosel is on Twitter @NathanNovosel but he needs to tweet more. He's also on Facebook.