Richard meets… gay varsity basketball coach, Anthony Nicodemo

Anthony Nicodemo has been an educator and coach his entire adult life. He is currently the head coach at Saunders Trade and Technical High School in Yonkers where he turned a once-floundering program into one of the most successful in the region. He drew national attention in 2013 when he came out as gay to his team and community.

Anthony’s story was featured on Outsports, Good Day New York, the New York Times and Good Morning America, to name a few. Since coming out, Nicodemo has been a key advocate for the LGBT community. I was lucky to grab Anthony for a quick sit down to hear more about his life, career and political ambitions.

Richard Jones: Anthony, thank you for sitting down with us. What’s life been like since you so very publicly came out?

In many ways it’s like living a completely different life. For so many years I looked over my shoulder everywhere I went. The fear of being outed can really consume you. 

Coming out allowed a weight to be lifted off my shoulders. I think I live more carefree then I ever have. The media coverage of my story gave me a platform to promote change. It opened doors that I never knew were there. It’s really amazing when you can help being part of positive change.

RJ: And you are still coaching high school students?

I am, this will be my 11th season as the varsity basketball coach at Saunders High School.

RJ: You recently ran for office, what made you want to move towards politics?

As I said earlier, my story gave me a platform to be an advocate. This naturally allowed me to work along some terrific elected officials that inspired me to create further change. Being a policy maker is the best way to create positive change. 

RJ: Is politics your future?

I think it will be. I am currently serving as the President of the Hudson Valley Stonewall Democrats which is an organization that promotes the needs of the LGBTQ community in politics. It has given me the opportunity to help get LGBTQ leaders and allies elected. In some ways it gives me a larger voice than I would have if I was elected. 

RJ: What have been some of the highlights in the last few years?

I’ve had some terrific moments. Returning to Portland for the LGBT Sports Summit was certainly one of those. A year after being so inspired that I came out I was able to tell my story and help inspire others. I was able to make some friends that will be in my life forever.

In 2018 Saunders hosted the first ever Pride on the Court Basketball Event. Nike came on as a sponsor and all the proceeds went to the Hudson Valley Chapter of GLSEN. Jason Collins attended and sat on our bench. To have my kids meet a pioneer and have him join our gram was truly special.

Running for office was really special as well. I had a tremendous amount of support from progressives who cared about human rights. So many people trusting me to lead was extremely humbling and rewarding.

RJ: And, what have been the toughest?

Our current political climate can be very tough to swallow. Hate crimes are on the rise and our President does not seem to value human rights. It’s hard to watch incidents like Charlottesville and not feel bad for where are as a nation. 

A few years back I had a former player and assistant coach killed in a shooting. That was very difficult to navigate. I’m extremely close with his family and have coached two of his brothers as well. Watching the family struggle has been difficult. No coaching courses can prepare you to have to tell your players that someone they loved was killed. It was a brutal process. 

RJ: You are now working with the Stonewall Democrats, tell me more about that?

The Stonewall Democrats is a national organization that work to elect LGBTQ candidates and allies. My goal is to provide a larger voice for the LGBTQ community in our region politically. 

RJ: What do you do for fun or to relax?

I often speak about balance. I think it important to unplug and have some fun often. A day at a winery or a great hike can often reset the clock. I really enjoy traveling and I’ve visited Italy, England and Spain in the past few years. During the summer I enjoy the beach and try to get to Fire Island and Provincetown as much as I can. I suppose I’ll have to do Bear Week one of these summers!

RJ: How can we support you or follow you in your career?

I’m pretty active on social media, @coachnicodemo is my Twitter and Instagram accounts.

The LGBTQ community needs to support each other anyway that we can. When one of us is able to create change, it will positively affect us all. We need to elevate our own in all aspects of life.

Richard Jones

Richard is the Co-Founder of Gray Jones Media, the parent company of Bear World Magazine, and was the magazine's creator and editor for its first three and half years. He is busy developing the business in many other directions, but loves coming back to contribute when he can.