It was only a couple weeks after starting to date his boyfriend that Stevenson High School’s gay star wrestler, Dylan Geick, decided the closet wasn’t for him.
“I really didn’t like having to sneak around,” Geick told Outsports, “so I came out to the kids at my lunch table one day after last season.
“It kind of exploded from there.”
“Exploded” is, in this case, an understatement. Just minutes after coming out to the students at his lunch table a year ago, his phone began to “blow up” from other students and teammates asking if the news was true. By nightfall he had heard from other wrestlers at seven different high schools in the Chicago area asking the same thing or offering support.
“It shocked a lot of people i think,” Geick said.
As an athlete, Geick has been great in a sport that measures strength, toughness and agility as well as any other. According to the Chicago Tribune, Geick has been “the face of the program” at his high school for the last two years.
When he came out it surprised some people that this elite wrestler was gay.
This year at the Class 3A state meet he finished fourth in the 160-pound division, just a year after finishing fourth in the 152-pound class. He was a conference runner-up as a sophomore.
"He's an incredible athlete,” coach Shane Cook said of Geick last year to the Chicago Tribune. “He has great wrestling speed, is very strong, extremely talented.
“He has a dynamic personality. People are drawn to him."
His apparent leadership extends to an ease when talking to the media about being part of what he considers a special team.
"It's an amazing environment [coach Cook] has put together," Geick told the Chicago Tribune after the state meet. "The motto for Stevenson wrestling is 'Always Together.' We live it, we share it. We're a family."
That tight family atmosphere has helped lead to Geick’s sexual orientation being widely accepted by his teammates and coaching staff. For the record, Geick said he hadn’t heard a single negative reaction from a teammate or coach since he came out to them. Not one.
“It just so happened that all of those kids, even those who maybe had a homophobic view before were able to see past that, and are still my friends, and we are much closer even now,” Geick told his school newspaper, The Statesman.
It’s also why Geick felt comfortable coming out to his team. When the family-strong bonds resonate from the coach down to the athletes, even a team of 80 or 90 young men, like that of Stevenson High School wrestling, can feel like a tight-knit group.
“I don't know if I would be able to come out in high school if it weren't for the environment the coaches have built there."
The day he came out to his lunch table, and quickly the world, he got a text message from coach Cook to meet with him. Cook offered his full support but gave him a warning.
“Guys from other schools may try to use it to dig at you,” Cook said. "You can't lose your cool."
Since that day, Geick hasn’t heard a single homophobic comment from his teammates. Even his competitors have stayed away from harassing him about being gay. When you’re 42-3 on the season, people find a way to keep their bullshit to themselves.
"As a higher-level wrestler, with a decent amount of respect from the wrestling community, I think they had the respect for me as a wrestler and an athlete that that stuff wasn't going to matter."
Still, there was that one kid.
The entire regular season had gone by without an incident, but heading into the state meet a competing wrestler tracked down Geick’s Instagram account and decided to leave a biting message about Geick being gay.
"To be honest,” Geick shared, “it fired me up, and I focused it into the match.
“I blew that kid out when we got on the mat."
His wrestling success, coupled with support from his friends, family, coaches and teammates, have given Geick the confidence to live openly in his personal life, and on Instagram, something he has done since last summer.
Geick made his being gay pretty clear last June when he posted this Instagram picture from pride (that’s Geick on the left, while his boyfriend, Grant, is planting the kiss):
That picture was snapped at Chicago Pride, the first Pride either men had been to. Incidentally, it was that very Pride parade where Outsports marched with about 100 LGBT athletes, coaches and others from across the sports world.
“Yeah I remember seeing you guys,” Geick said.
“We walked away from the day a lot happier and a lot more comfortable with ourselves."
Since then he’s been unabashed about being gay and sharing photos of himself and Grant, including this post from his homecoming last fall, with his boyfriend by his side:
“I'm not quite sure how to describe senior homecoming,” Geick wrote. “It was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had and it's absolutely insane to think I've been with this boy for 7 months now. They've been the very best of my life. I love you; thank you.”
Instagram has, to an extent, become a bit of a love letter from Geick to his boyfriend. Several months ago Geick performed “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon because, as he wrote, “I finally found somebody.”
The two young men are still dating and are both going to college in New York City next year, with Geick headed to Columbia Univ. to wrestle.
It was walking the campus with a Columbia coach last year that helped seal the deal for Geick. He had met all the wrestlers and spent a couple days with them, enjoying the bunch. He also knew he wanted to attend a school with an NCAA Div. I wrestling program that could also provide some academic rigor.
On a campus stroll during his visit, the coach made sure Geick knew every aspect of his self was welcome.
“One of coolest things is the diversity we have here,” the coach said. “People from every country, every gender, every sexual orientation.
“And just so you know, none of that stuff matters here at all.”
The coach, along with some of the wrestlers, had seen Geick’s Instagram photos of him and his boyfriend. It didn’t matter to them one bit.
Now Geick hopes that by sharing his story he can help other gay athletes feel like they are not alone. About a year ago, as he struggled to come to terms with who he was, he stumbled across the story of Ohio State wrestler Mike Pucillo, who came out publicly after he graduated. It was reading that story that gave Geick the confidence he was not alone.
“I really didn’t know any gay wrestlers. The first thing I Googled was ‘NCAA gay wrestling’ and that was the article I found. So it's cool that I get to share my story.
I hope I can have the same effect on a high school kid."