There is no doubt a dearth of out athletes and coaches, but Oregon
has two openly gay sports professionals — Portland State University women's head basketball coach Sherri Murrell and Oregon State university
softball coach Kirk Walker (pictured).
In a profile in The Oregonian, the 46-year-old Walker, out to his team since 2005, is credited with inadvertently helping Murrell come out of the closet. Murrell, 43, didn’t talk about her partner until she started her job with PSU in 2007 but felt confident to make the leap after seeing a local article about Walker and his family. The same thing happened when Rick Welts, the gay president of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, saw a more recent newspaper piece about the softball coach.
Walker says there is often more internal fear of coming out on the part of gay coaches than there is actual homophobia.
"The older coaches are sometimes really resistant: 'Why do you need to do this? We're fine. We're doing fine,'" he says.