‘This is who I am’: Predators prospect Luke Prokop comes out by Pierre LeBrun, 19 July 2021
Luke Prokop was driving his car, so he couldn’t totally freak out.
But man, what he was feeling at the moment.
The 2020 third-round draft pick of the Nashville Predators was on a call with the NHL club’s key front office people including GM David Poile.
Their message to Prokop? They were all proud of him. They had his back. He didn’t have to worry about anything.
“When I think about the feeling of being free, that was the closest I think I’ve been to it so far,” Prokop, 19, said.
“I turned up the music as loud as I could. I was wearing sunglasses, I started to cry, tears of joy, I didn’t want anyone to see me crying while I was driving. But I was blasting the tunes and slamming on my steering wheel. It was amazing.’’
No doubt Prokop had wondered for nearly a year how that call with the Predators would go ever since they drafted him 73rd last fall.
“I can’t thank them enough for supporting me,’’ Prokop said.
He had just taken his next important step in a process that began in March 2020.
Telling people in his own world that he’s gay.
Now, with this interview in The Athletic, he is ready to tell the entire world.
“Very brave young man,’’ Poile said. “It took a lot of courage. I’m proud that he did that. It’s got to be exciting for him to be taking this step. This is a big story and hopefully it helps and encourages others in similar situations. It’s a big deal.’’
There has never been an openly gay active player in the NHL. Amazingly, this 6-foot-5, 221-pound defenceman is coming out before his first pro camp.
And yes, part of the reason Prokop is coming out is to help others. But first and foremost, it was to lift a 100-pound anvil off his back.
Just being able to tell people around him over the past year has been freeing.
“It’s been very special, talking to my friends, my family, my coaches, my agents,’’ Prokop said. “And them being very supportive, me coming out and being OK with who I was. I think it’s been translating a lot into my summer and my summer training. I’ve noticed myself being a lot more confident on the ice.
“Being able to truly be who I am. This is the best I’ve ever felt in the summer and I think a large part of that is due to this process of me coming out.’’
Prokop doesn’t want to wonder anymore.
“I don’t want to have to walk into the gym or to the arena or just to practice, and keep thinking, ‘Who knows? Who doesn’t?’ This is who I am,” Prokop said.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a big topic of conversation, that’s not what I want it to be. It’s just, ‘Hey, here’s who I am.’ It gets it off my chest. So I don’t have to worry and wonder about other people.”
Such a courageous young man. I see a lot of myself in him in his approach to his sexuality