Two days ago, redshirt senior offensive lineman Chip Sarafin was just another walk-on at ASU. A graduate student and Tillman Scholar, Sarafin was one of many “Scholar Ballers” who have made their way through head coach Todd Graham’s football program.
Then came Wednesday, as an interview with Complete Magazine revealed that Sarafin was gay, making him the first active openly gay athlete in the history of Division I college football.
The announcement, which came while the football team was isolated from outsiders at Camp Tontozona near Payson, and the following support have thrust Sarafin into a spotlight he’s not sure was coming.
“(Coming out) is quite the relief. At first I wasn’t sure it would blow up as much as it did, so that was very interesting in those regards, hearing how that developed,” he told reporters Thursday. “It’s definitely good to see that so many people out there are positive about it, so Arizona State is getting some positive media attention.”
Sarafin, who came out to his teammates last spring, was not surprised with how the team has supported him as well as each other.
“At Arizona State, we’re a brotherhood. As far as to how players treat each other, we’re all one unit. There’s no offense or defense, no (offensive) line or (defensive) line. We’re all involved together, working together towards the same goal, which is to be national champion,” he said. “A brother won’t let another brother down, a brother won’t disrespect another brother, so we’re all here to support each other.”
The idea of brotherhood is one that is created and passed down by head coach Todd Graham, who echoed Sarafin’s sentiments.
“We’re a brotherhood, and we talk about Sun Devil brotherhood, and we’re all about relationships built on respect,” he said. “That’s respecting each other’s differences, whether it be cultural, whether it be religious beliefs, or whatever that might be. I’m really proud of our guys. It’s not something that’s a surprise to us. Obviously our guys were very aware of that, and we’re proud of Chip (Sarafin) just like we’re proud of all the rest of our guys, and it’s an honor to coach these guys.”
With all the attention now on him, Sarafin said that he wants to wait until the team returns to Tempe to do any one on one interviews.
“I was a little bit nervous when it came to my attention how big of an influence this was becoming. I think it’s definitely positive that there’s role models out there, especially right now,” he said. “Eventually I’m hoping that stuff like this will not be as big of a news story, that people will hear about these stories and it won’t be such a big thing. Eventually players will be who there are, and it’ll just be that.”
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