In 2011, Outsports ran the story of gay volleyball coach Nick Clark. Since then Clark has refused to hide who he is from anyone, wearing his identities of "gay man" and "volleyball coach" on his sleeve.
Last year he was hired as the head men's volleyball coach by Clarke University, an NAIA school in Dubuque, Iowa. They knew he was gay and have embraced that part of their new head coach from day one.
Clark shared his thoughts with us about being out and continuing to advance his career:
I have been publicly out for about five years now. The article ran on Outsports back in 2011. Since then I have always prepared myself to anticipate that my employer will know that I am a gay man. Every school that I have coached at has known that I am a gay man. They've hired me based on merit. Which is exactly how it should be.
I received a very warm welcome at Clarke University. After I accepted the position, some of the administration asked for my fiancee's resume in an attempt to circulate it among some of the other colleges in town so he could find a job upon relocating. It really resonated with us.
I am a volleyball coach. However, I am so much more than that. I am a teacher. I am a time management consultant. I am a counselor. I am a psychologist. I am a gay man but that should be such a secondary topic. Being gay has nothing to do with my ability to run a volleyball program just like being gay or straight has nothing to do with one's ability to finish a report or deliver the mail.
I feel this is an explanation that is used so much. When I am around school or with the team, I don't even hesitate to talk about my home life or something funny that happened to us. I talk about my dog all of the time. I want to bring an accepting and familial atmosphere to the program. Why then is there such a stigma around being a gay man and their ability to lead?
We are getting ready to take the court this weekend for our first official matches of the regular season. The only thing I'll be thinking about is "How are we going to compete?" and "What adjustments do we need to make?" After the matches I'll text my fiancee, where I am sure he will have already texted me by then based upon the outcome of the match, and get the guys ready to play the next one.
My point in all of this is that being a gay man really has nothing to do with me leading this program or team. I really believe that is how it's supposed to be.
Congratulations to both Clark and Clarke on the great hire!
You can find Nick Clark on Facebook.