Former Nebraska kicker Eric Lueshen told Lincoln’s 93.7 FM The Ticket on Tuesday that he was openly gay while serving as a member of the Husker football team, and that his teammates embraced him.
On the Gaskins and Stephens show (Part 1, Part 2), Lueshen, a Husker from 2003 to 2006, said that when teammates Sean Hill and Corey McKeon asked in 2003 if he was gay, he replied “Yes, is that a problem?”
“They were like, ‘Oh no, that’s really cool. We all thought that you were, and we just wanted to know.’ ”
The Pierce, Neb., native said coaches were also aware that he was gay, and that the Nebraska walk-on and World-Herald All-Class selection in C-1 once took a boyfriend to the student-athlete formal.
And while he said that some assistants made him feel uncomfortable, “numerous coaches were very, very kind, and very sweet to me.” Coach Bill Callahan was “accepting of me,” Lueshen said. “I know in the conversations I’ve had with him how much he respected me as a person.”
Lueshen said that his decision to be open with his teammates was ultimately a good decision, as his “experience went from being a very scared and somewhat shy gay person on the team to a very welcomed and loved teammate of many.”
Though he was openly gay for years, Lueshen said Michael Sam’s recent announcement that he was gay created an opportunity for others to share their experiences. “Seeing that story just kind of sparked” memories and emotions, Lueshen said. “I kind of felt maybe now is the time to share my story.”
In a post on The World-Herald’s Facebook page Wednesday, Lueshen said he shared his story “in order to open the minds of Husker Nation and the athletic community, as well as to hopefully inspire other LGBT people who may currently be struggling with their sexuality.”
Lueshen did not play as a redshirt freshman in 2004. In 2005, Lueshen was battling kickers David Dyches and Jordan Congdon for playing time before suffering a partially torn hamstring. Injuries eventually ended Lueshen’s career. He was named to the 2005 Brook Berringer Citizenship Team.