Former Gophers offensive lineman Luke McAvoy wrote a story for Outsports.com, giving a heartfelt account of his experience when he came out as gay in 2014, while still part of the team.
McAvoy, a native of Bloomington, Ill., who was with the Gophers program from 2011-2014 but played only sparingly, said he had known he was gay in high school but kept it to himself, heeding his mother’s advice.
McAvoy said he finally got the courage to tell two teammates on Feb. 9, 2014, the day former Missouri linebacker Michael Sam came out publicly. Two days later, McAvoy told those two teammates his story.
“The relief of just two people knowing was incredible,” McAvoy wrote for Outsports.com. “I felt better than I ever had. I finally could focus on what was going on around me even though I still wasn't totally out. After that night, word slowly spread. We never had a team meeting nor did I ever really announce it but people learned and I did not deny it anymore.”
“I won't lie and say it was all perfect; some people did not take it well. However, the support, acceptance and love I felt outweighed all the negativity. There were a few teammates that did not like it and mostly they just ignored me. Others took a few conversations before we were cool. It was nowhere near the outright rejection and hatred I had feared. I think the coaches knew, but they never said anything about it. I was not really on their radar much that year since I was not a starter or key backup.
“I was a scout team player on the offensive line, nowhere close to a star player. My love of football evolved from one that revolved around actual playing time to the time spent with the team, the workouts, the banter that filled almost every waking moment. I got six plays against the University of Iowa [a big rival] my senior year, and would not trade it for the world. Those six plays made all of the 300s drills and early morning workouts worth it.
“Yet it was the acceptance from my teammates that I will remember. Being part of a family that did just about everything together for four years was amazing. Being part of a family that turned out to be so much more accepting and supportive than I could have imagined made me realize that I had nothing to fear. The only thing I should have been afraid of was what was in my own mind.”
Here’s the full story.
Matt Limegrover, the Gophers former offensive coordinator and offensive line coach who is now at Penn State, told the Star Tribune via Twitter direct message: "It didn't surprise me one bit that Luke had the courage and the self-awareness to step out of the shadows and speak up. He is honestly one of the most caring and giving young men I have ever coached. I am unbelievably proud of the man he is and am honored to have been associated with him in some small way as his coach."
Former Gophers coach Jerry Kill said he wasn't aware McAvoy was gay until he read the article. Kill said what he remembers most about McAvoy’s time at the university was how well he represented the football team.
“Luke did a tremendous amount for our athletic department,” Kill said. “He was a great teammate. He’s a giving kid, and that’s why I think he’ll be a great teacher. I’m very proud of the success he’s having.”
Also, The Daily Gopher tweeted its thanks.