Kyle Kurdziolek is a scholarship football player on the University of St. Francis’ football team. He recently came out to his family, friends, coaches and teammates.
Growing up, Kurdziolek was worried what others would think. He suppressed his sexuality through his teen years even though he knew he was gay since middle school.
“Growing up in Streator, you know, it was a very small time, a very small-minded town, so I didn’t feel welcome at first there just-because I knew who I was as a person around middle school,” he told ABC 7 in a new interview. “And as soon as that hit me and just being around a lot of my friends, a lot of their parents, it wasn’t a mentality or attitude that was really accepted at the time, and I didn’t feel comfortable in my own shoes.”
However something changed within Kurdziolek. Courageously, the linebacker started to come out last year. After slowly telling family and friends, he decided to tell his coach Joe Curry and teammates at St. Francis, a catholic university.
“I was completely 100 percent happy for him. You know, everybody in their life desires to be part of something and be happy, and Kyle’s no different,” Curry said.
With two years of eligibility left, Kurdziolek cites his inspiration for coming out as Michael Sam. However, unlike Kurdziolek, Sam didn’t come out until after he was finished with college.
“I feel so relieved now, like, I’m so happy about the person I am today, just being able to get that off my chest and feel comfortable about who I am. I don’t have to hide behind this mask anymore, I don’t have to conform to some norm anymore. I can be Kyle Kurdziolek, I can be who I want to be and without no restrictions,” Kurdziolek said.