NEW LONDON, Conn. — The lock on the front door broke in the house Chandler Whitney lives in with some baseball teammates, and unexpectedly, it led to a gesture of acceptance.
Whitney, who came out publicly as gay in 2014, transferred to Mitchell College in Connecticut before this school year. Mitchell baseball coach Travis Beausoleil asked a pair of returning players to find a place to live together with Whitney, a junior eligibility-wise, and another player transferring to the school.
The weekend in October that the lock broke, Whitney was out of town, so his roommates/teammates that knew Whitney for just two months at that point took the opportunity to show they embraced him.
"They walked in and they're like, ‘Chandler, you want your key?' " Whitney said. "They got Patriots ones or Red Sox ones. They got me a rainbow flag one. ... I thought it was a really cool gesture, and I thought it was pretty funny."
The rainbow-colored key is still what Whitney uses to get in their house every day, and he loves the reminder it provides.
"It makes me think about how much just one person and one interaction can affect and change someone's way of thinking," Whitney said. "One of my roommates here, before he knew me, he wasn't comfortable necessarily living with a gay guy. He thought very stereotypically. ... He said after he met me, it changed everything he thought he knew about a whole group of people in this society. For me, that's very cool."
Whitney, a native of Beaverton, Oregon, transferred to Mitchell after two years playing baseball at Walla Walla Community College in the state of Washington, and he has experienced no trouble feeling comfortable off the field or on the field.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Whitney has played 20 of 21 game in left field for the Mariners (18-3 overall). He leads the team with 16 RBIs, stands second in batting average (.383) and on-base percentage (.500), and ranks third in runs scored (19).
"The biggest thing for me has always been staying through the ball as a left-handed hitter who throws right-handed and is right-hand dominant," Whitney said of this season's offensive success. "It's still sort of a problem I'm having this year, but it's gotten a lot better."
Whitney's play on the diamond has Mitchell contending for a third straight New England Collegiate Conference title and the accompanying NCAA Division III tournament berth. He also is making a difference on campus by convincing the athletic department to model Duke's "You Don't Say" campaign.
Beausoleil, the Mitchell coach, saw Whitney's coming out story before recruiting him, but as far as Whitney knows, none of his teammates have read it. He had private conversations with his roommates to make sure they knew he's gay, but otherwise, he let his new teammates find out on their own. By the first practice, Whitney says everyone knew there was a gay player on the team, and "it was a matter of remembering which one Chandler Whitney was."
"I'm happy I came here," Whitney said. "Looking at my numbers so far this season, I know it's early, but I would say it's so far worked out; and I'm grateful to have had another opportunity to play baseball and be myself."
Names in bold are people that have announced publicly they identify as LGBT.
Konrad Eiring (freshman, Illinois men's track and field) made his outdoor season debut April 2 at Stanford with a 26th-place finish in the 800 meters (1 minute, 51.8 seconds). On Saturday, he took 16th in the 400 meters (50.15 seconds) at Indiana State.
Taylor Emery (freshman, Tulane women's basketball) announced plans to transfer from Tulane via Twitter on April 7. Emery said in a tweet, "After a lot of thought and consideration I have decided to transfer from Tulane University. I'm ready for the next step in my life and thank you all for the support!"
Fred Hartville (senior, Illinois men's gymnastics) helped the Illini finish second at the Big Ten Championships on April 1 by scoring 14.300 on vault. He finished fourth on Illinois' team in that event.
Lauren Miranda (senior, Duke women's rowing) rowed the No. 2 Varsity 8 boat in a dual at Virginia on Saturday. Virginia's 2V8 beat Duke's, whose time was 7:19.2.
Cavender Salvadori (junior, William and Mary men's track and field) took 11th in the 3,000-meter steeplechase April 1 at the Colonial Relays in a personal-record time of 9:20.2, and on April 2, he helped the 4 x 1,500-meter relay finish fourth (15:57.41). On Saturday, he finished 10th in the 1,500 meters (4:07.42) at Virginia.
Jazmine Sosa (senior, UCLA softball) and Kirk Walker (assistant coach, UCLA softball) helped the No. 13-ranked Bruins go 5-1 the last two weeks, including two wins against No. 4-ranked Oregon.
Gavin Studner (senior, Lafayette men's tennis) picked up a singles and doubles win Friday at Rider, but he suffered losses in singles and doubles in the other four matches the past two weeks. In Saturday's match against Bucknell, Studner was promoted from the team's No. 2 to No. 1 singles player.
Tanner Williams (senior, Oklahoma men's track and field) snared a second-place finish in pole vault (16 feet, 8 inches) during Saturday's Battle on the Bayou at LSU. A week earlier, he cleared 17-1 and took fifth in pole vault at the Texas Relays.
Jenny Allard (head coach, Harvard softball) has her Crimson (16-13 overall, 6-2 Ivy League) on a five-game winning streak after beating Princeton on April 2 then sweeping Friday's doubleheader with Columbia and Saturday's doubleheader with Penn.
Galen Dodd (assistant coach, Southern California men's volleyball) concluded the season Saturday with a 3-0 loss at No. 1-ranked BYU. The Trojans (7-19 overall) went 1-3 the last two weeks with a 3-0 win against UC San Diego on April 2.
Randy Lane (assistant coach, UCLA women's gymnastics) helped the Bruins to a second-place finish with 196.375 points at the Salt Lake City Regional on April 2. It earned UCLA a spot in the NCAA Championships, where the Bruins will try to win the program's seventh national title.
Simon Thibodeau (head coach, UC Santa Barbara women's tennis) guided his team to a 4-1 record the past two weeks.
Alanna Carvalho (sophomore, Erskine women's lacrosse) scored both goals in her team's 15-2 loss to Lees-McRae on April 2, and she contributed three goals and two assists in Saturday's 15-8 loss to Emmanuel.
Ryan Beene (junior, Texas Lutheran men's tennis) went through a rough stretch the last two weeks, going 0-3 in both singles and doubles.
Michael Drougas (sophomore, Oberlin men's tennis) went 0-2 in singles and 2-1 in doubles the last two weeks.
Max Korten (senior, Moravian men's track & field) finished 44th in the 1,500 meters (4:41.6) at the Muhlenberg Invitational on April 2. He finished 16th in the 5,000 meters (17:05.25) during Sunday's home meet.
Mark Kroll (senior, Coe men's tennis) did not play in matches the last two weeks as the team went 1-2.
Ben Larison (senior, Coe baseball) helped his team go 6-4 the last two weeks. He went 1-for-3 and scored a crucial run in a 7-6 win over Dubuque on April 3, and he had five assists playing third base that game.
Ryan LaVigne (sophomore, Lewis & Clark women's rowing) likely contributed to the team's competitions April 2 and April 9, but the school's results do not show what athletes competed in each boat.
Michael Martin (freshman, Wilson men's volleyball) recorded two assists and a block assist in the season's final match, a 3-0 loss to D'Youville on April 2. Wilson finished its debut season 0-20.
Nathan Matthews (freshman, Wittenburg men's volleyball) made nine digs and two assists in a 3-1 loss to Milwaukee Engineering on April 1. The Tigers (14-11) ended their season April 2 with a 3-0 loss to No. 3-ranked Carthage.
T.J. Greggs (head coach, Agnes Scott women's tennis) guided the Scotties (7-8 overall) to a 3-1 record the last two weeks. Saturday's 8-1 win against Salem ensured the team at least a share of the Great South Athletic Conference title.
Andres Bustani (senior, Lewis-Clark State men's tennis) went 4-2 in singles and 1-6 in doubles during a busy past two weeks. He won three of the four singles matches in two sets. The No. 20-ranked Warriors (9-8 overall) went 4-3 in that span.
Jack Strickland (junior, Friends men's track and field) took 19th in the 110-meter hurdles (15.67 seconds) and 25th in the 400 hurdles (59.6 seconds) at the Emporia State Relays on April 2. During a home invitational Saturday, he finished eighth in the 110 hurdles (15.69 seconds) and 10th in the 400 hurdles (1:03.12).
Nick Clark (head coach, Clarke men's volleyball) lost the opening game of the Heart of America Athletic Conference tournament Friday, a 3-1 loss to Graceland. The Crusaders (20-10 overall) went 1-2 the last two weeks. Clarke ended the regular season ranked No. 7 nationally.
Lauren Lappin (assistant coach, Roosevelt softball) went 4-7 with her team the last two weeks.
Upcoming televised competitions involving LGBT college athletes and coaches that have announced their sexuality publicly. (All times are Eastern.)
Friday, April 14
Randy Lane, UCLA women's gymnastics at NCAA Championships; Fort Worth, Texas, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
Saturday, April 15
Randy Lane, UCLA women's gymnastics at NCAA Championships; Fort Worth, Texas, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
Saturday, April 23
Jazmine Sosa and Kirk Walker, UCLA softball at Arizona; Tucson, Ariz., 5 p.m. (ESPN2)
Sunday, April 24
Jazmine Sosa and Kirk Walker, UCLA softball at Arizona; Tucson, Ariz., 5 p.m. (ESPN2)
Erik Hall can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @HallErik or on Facebook. If you are an out LGBT athlete or coach and want your accomplishments recognized, email Erik.