Conner Mertens made history on Monday night. No college football player has ever come out as gay or bisexual while they were still playing. Mertens is a red-shirt freshman kicker for Division-III Willamette University, and his team and the public now know that he is bisexual.
Mertens asked Willamette coach Glen Fowles if he could meet with him last week to discuss something important. According to OutSports.com, Fowles was concerned that Mertens — who has the potential to be the team’s kicker for the next four seasons — might be transferring schools. He was relieved to hear that the freshman was staying.
“I’m bisexual,” Mertens told Fowles. “I like dudes. I have a boyfriend. And next week, I’m going to tell the world.”
Before he came out, Fowles had assured Mertens that he was a good kicker and would only be judged by his on-field performance. Fowles was an assistant coach with the Bearcats in 1997 when they became the first college football team to have a female kicker, Liz Heastons, participate in a game and score a point. That was one of the reasons Mertens chose Willamette. However, he feared that telling his teammates might be a lot tougher than telling Fowles.