Three-time Olympian Stacy Sykora recently came out as a lesbian in an interview with the Italian volleyball magazine Pallavoliamo (hat tip to AE member flaaav). Sykora, who was part of the USA Olympic team that won a Silver Medal in Beijing in 2008, was seriously injured in a bus accident in 2011. The accident occurred while she was playing for a Brazilian volleyball team Volei Futuro. As a result of the accident she suffered a brain injury and was in a coma for three days.
Stacy Sykora in 2008
Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images
Sykora has the date of the accident tattooed over her heart and cites it as a life changing experience that played a part in her decision to come out.
I don’t hide anymore; I finished wearing a mask only because I am a strong player who took part to the Olympic Games. I have both good sides and weakness and as I do not hide myself on court, I don’t hide myself in love anymore either. I have a girlfriend and I’m happy with her now.
I am sorry if someone has a problem with it and doesn’t accept my homosexuality, but I’m happy and this is the most important thing.
Before the accident I had other girlfriends, but in the past I tended to hide it. This is the first time I say it openly. I have a girlfriend but that does not prevent me from being a good player or a good person.
Sykora’s comeback from the accident has been remarkable. She was among the final group of players cut from the US roster before the London Olympics despite being just one year from being in a coma in a Brazilian ICU. She is currently playing in Italy for Urbino and everything about her interview (and the accompanying photographs) suggest that she has found a home overseas, a welcoming place to play with her team, and happiness with her girlfriend Shivonn.
Photo by TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/Getty
While many of us are lucky enough not to have experienced the type of accident that motivated Sykora to live more honestly, it’s inspiring to watch Sykora take what could have been such a devastating experience and turn it into an outlook that enriches her life. Hopefully, her coming out will inspire other volleyball players (and anyone else who feels moved by her story) to come out as well.