Like so many athletes heading off to college, Cornell basketball player Nicholle Aston faced nerves. Compounding that for her was the recent discovery by her parents that she dates women, and the unsure feeling she had about how her new teammates — who really didn’t know her — would handle that.
In a beautifully written story by Julie Greco, Aston talks about those very early days on campus:
“It was Freshman Orientation Week and I was at the basketball seniors’ house and I forget exactly what prompted it, but I just started crying,” says Aston. Two of the team’s captains ushered her away from the group and Aston began the process of coming out to her brand new teammates. “I didn’t know what to do, because I just wanted them to like me. But they immediately reassured me that it was fine.”
Once she had the support of the upperclassmen, she came out to her classmates, and eventually the coaching staff through assistant coach Val Klopfer.
“One of the reasons that I committed to Cornell was that I felt a sense of commonality with Coach K,” says Aston. “I hadn’t totally figured out my sexuality at that point, but I just knew that she’d be a good ally.”
Aston is helping the community beyond just her team, as the education and advocacy intern at Cornell’s LGBT Resource Center. It’s awesome to see an athlete giving back on her campus that way.
So has Cornell gotten even a single negative response to the story? According to Greco, neither the school nor the athlete has received a single negative reaction.
Welcome to sports in 2016.