Shadows fill the screen and pensive music plays as Miami baseball player Brian Zapp recounts years of internal struggle and self-doubt.
“I could not let anyone find out about this secret, so I had to be a different person…. If someone were to find out, to me, that was the end of my baseball career,” Zapp says in a video set to air at Toronto Blue Jays games during Pride Month (June).
Zapp, a RedHawk infielder from Waterloo, Ontario, is the first active NCAA Division-I baseball player to come out as bisexual. Now a Farmer School of Business Accounting major, he is a Blue Jays Baseball Academy Showcase Athlete alumnus.
In the video created by the Toronto Blue Jays, Zapp describes his experience coming out in December 2021: He had just finished his last exam of the semester and was on his way home to Canada, when he pulled over and pressed “post” to Instagram.
By the time he reached home and hugged his dad, his social media feed was filled with an outpouring of support and admiration.
“Since coming out, all of my family, friends and teammates have been very supportive,” Zapp said. “It is so much more rewarding living life without the fear of being myself.”
Zapp decided to come out publicly–and participate in the Blue Jays video–to create awareness for others who are struggling with their sexuality and self acceptance.
“In my experience, sports cultivate a homophobic culture, so it's important to recognize how you act and the language you use in those settings. Because you will likely play with someone at some point who is struggling in silence, afraid of the homophobic culture in sports,” Zapp said.
In the 2021 season, Zapp appeared in 50 games, earning 46 starts and seeing the majority of that time at third base. With a .217 batting average, he drove in 18 RBIs and scored 22 runs.
"Brian signifies what we want all who are associated with the Miami Athletics experience: to feel secure and supported to be their authentic self,” Miami Director of Athletics David Sayler said. “Our mission is to Graduate Champions and to do so in a way that reflects diversity. Part of our action plan is to show empathy through open dialogue about issues of difference and create safe spaces for crucial conversations. Brian has helped empower that continued dialogue, and I am proud of the daily work our student-athletes and coaches have committed to in living out our mission."