The domino effect.
We talk about it all the time, the power of one person being out in sports, and that leading to another person coming out, who leads to another.... In introducing openly gay Golden State Warriors CEO Rick Welts at an event last night, Univ. of San Francisco head women's basketball coach Jennifer Azzi took the opportunity to be the next domino, and an historic one at that.
"I, too, lived a long time not being 100 percent honest," Azzi said at the ceremony, according to the San Jose Mercury-News. "Kind of the don't-ask-don't-tell kinda of thing. And it's so stupid. I don't know why we do that, but we do that. I'm a college coach. Is it going to hurt me with recruiting? What are people going to think? And you are constantly worrying about those things.
"What I realized in watching Rick in his path and his journey is that there is nothing more powerful than living the truth. And the best thing I can do for my team is be authentic and true to myself."
Since the releasing of Sherri Murrell at Portland State, there had been no Div. I head women's basketball coaches who are publicly out as gay, bi or lesbian. Yes, you read that right. Zero. Azzi now makes one. Again. And her wife makes only one assistant coach who's publicly out.
She has been the head coach at USF since 2010, during which time she has turned around the program and led the team to the NCAA tournament this season. She was the fifth overall pick in the 1999 WNBA Draft.
And as a Stanford alum, I couldn't be more proud.
What some will latch onto is the fact that she is married to her assistant coach, Blair Hardiek. Ultimately coaches are judged by how they treat their student-athletes and how well the team performs on the court. Given the turn-around of the program, any concerns about coaches being married should be even less of a non-issue than it already should be.