Nashville Predators’ Luke Prokop “Couldn’t Be Happier” After Coming Out
Luke Prokop is only 19?
Could have cheated on me.
I would have guessed in my mid-twenties, maybe older. Prokop – at 6 feet 4 inches and around 220 pounds – looks remarkably mature for his age. He doesn’t look or look like a teenager or third-round defenseman in a Nashville Predators rookie camp, skating his best to get the big club’s attention for years before playing in a game. the NHL.
You can tell he’s getting used to the attention and calls from celebrities like Elton John and the interviews and questions asked by people like me – who don’t ask him much about hockey and probably won’t. not for a while.
I guess Prokop will continue to smile patiently and tell everyone what he told me last week: “I couldn’t be happier with my decision to go out.”
“I just feel more confident. I kinda feel like a new version of myself. I hope it’s a version that lasts a long time.”
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This type of response shows how much all of this weighed on Prokop before July 19, when he came out publicly as gay and acclaimed by the international community. The Predators prospect thus became the first openly gay player with an active NHL contract.
How has it been for him since?
At first, Prokop said his life really hasn’t changed much. “If anything has changed,” he said, “it’s just that I am more myself than I have been for a long time.”
But then he spoke about how things have changed for the better. He spoke at length about feeling like a new person, fundamentally. It’s everywhere too, including on the ice.
Yes, he believes his coming out has improved his hockey.
“I have never felt so good on the ice,” he said. “I just feel more confident, in a way, and I think it’s fair to be okay with who I am. I had had confidence issues in the past, and with everything that happened, I feel like I got over that and kind of made a new identity. I think it shows on the ice.
Prokop wasn’t the best prospect in last week’s rookie roster for the Predators, but he wasn’t at the bottom of the list either. We will hear more from him in the future. No guarantees, but he will have a chance to make the NHL club and play at Bridgestone Arena one day.
With his size and reputation as a home defender, Prokop has said he would like to expand his offensive skills so that he can improve this part of his game. He is working his way up the ranks and plans to spend the coming season with his Hockey League team. west to Calgary, which is not far from his hometown of Edmonton.
Before his coming out, Prokop had already told the management of the Predators that he was gay. Their support, in fact, gave him extra courage to go through with the announcement: “Once they supported me and came out with their support, I knew I was was ready for it. “
Prokop said he expected a big response back then, but the scale of it was greater than he had imagined.
“I really wanted to show people around the world that it’s good to be who you are,” he said. “… I got messages from people in Sweden and from people in Germany, Australia. It was everywhere, and it was different people.
The responses have been mostly favorable, he said.
“Obviously there are a few negative comments, but it’s kind of the trolls in their mother’s basement or whatever,” he said. “I’ve gotten to the point now where I’m just laughing at those comments. They are kind of funny to me.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and I couldn’t be more grateful for it. “
Contact Gentry Estes at [email protected] and on Twitter @Gentry_Estes.