On March 5, 2017, our Bowling Green State volleyball team was traveling back from a tournament when some of my teammates started talking about their girlfriends. I was listening to their conversation from a distance and not participating.

“Yo Noah, got any chicks in your life?” My teammate Nick asked.

I smiled and shook my head no.

Nick fired again, “What? Why not?”

“Because girls aren’t my thing,” I replied, winking at him to make sure he got the message. “But don’t ask if I have any guys in my life because it will only remind me how single I am.”

“So, you’re gay?” Nick asked

They all welcomed me with open arms.

As soon as I confirmed it, everyone instantly hugged and high-fived me. They all welcomed me with open arms, and I felt so relieved. I finally could be myself.

That night when I went home I received several text messages from my teammates saying they were here for me and that they support me.

They embraced me with open arms, and we haven't looked back since. Coming out to my teammates made me a better volleyball player, teammate and leader. Finally, I could focus exclusively on volleyball, and I no longer hand to worry about putting up a wall.

Before I came out to my teammates, I saw them as simply teammates. Nothing more, nothing less. I was always friendly at practice and any time I saw them outside of volleyball. But I never did anything with them besides volleyball.

That was then. Now I am extremely comfortable with my team and call some of them my best friends.

The Bowling Green State Univ. volleyball team has completely supported gay player Noah Munger (22).

Before I came out to my volleyball team only a select few people knew about me being gay. The acceptance and love I received from my teammates helped me become more and more confident. I was learning from them to not be ashamed of being gay, but to embrace it.

Growing up I had very low self-esteem and many insecurities. Most of these insecurities stemmed from being gay. This was a real struggle of mine for many years. I was scared of who I was, and I didn’t think people would accept me.

I started to see a boost in self-confidence in March when I came out to my team. By the time summer rolled around I was the most confident I had ever been in my life. I loved me for me.

I was still faced with the extremely challenging task of coming out to my family. My family is very religious, which made me even more hesitant to come out to them. Every time I thought about doing it I would end up talking myself out of it. I had finally come up with a plan, and I would tell my family the week before going back to school. If it went badly I would be gone and we could have our space to deal with things.

It didn’t come to that. In July I received a phone call from my mom. One of my “friends” had told her I was gay. I was forced to have a conversation I had planned for the end of the summer a month early, and on the phone. Most importantly, I was robbed of the opportunity to come out to my family on my own terms.

My mom expected me to deny the rumors, but I didn’t. I had to tell her right then and there. My mom assured me she would love me no matter what, but she needed time to process everything. I told her she could take all the time she needed. I told her something like this takes time, and that it took me 20 years to accept the fact that I was gay.

I finally accepted myself, which allowed others to accept me. I have my teammates to thank for that.

I was most nervous to tell my dad, so I asked my mom if she could tell him. That night I didn’t go home and stayed at a friend’s house. While I as at my friends I received a text from my dad.

“Hey No, you are my son I love you and I always will!”

I was overwhelmed with emotions and feeling like five tons had been lifted off my shoulders.

Today I am confident, free and have self-worth. I finally accepted myself, which allowed others to accept me. I have my teammates to thank for that. They were the start of this very long and eventful journey of coming out.

For everyone who has supported me and loved me through it all, thank you! I appreciate you all more than words can explain.

Noah Munger plays club volleyball for Bowling Green State Univ. You can find him on Instagram @noah_munger23, on Twitter @noahmunger257, and on Facebook.