An alumnus of the Edge School for Athletes has made history, as the first ever player under an active NHL contract to come out as gay.
Nashville Predators prospect Luke Prokop, who graduated from the Springbank-based private school last year, came out publicly via an Instagram post on July 19.
“It has been quite the journey to get to this point in my life, but I could not be happier with my decision to come out,” the-19-year-old defenseman wrote. “From a young age, I have dreamed of being an NHL player, and I believe that living my authentic life will allow me to bring my whole self to the rink and improve my chances of fulfilling my dreams.”
Prokop is currently playing for the Calgary Hitmen in the Western Hockey League. He was selected in the third round by the Nashville Predators in the 2020 NHL Draft, and has signed a three-year entry level contract with the team.
Though he has not logged any ice time in the NHL since being drafted, Prokop has played more than 130 games across four seasons for the Hitmen, according to his Elite Prospects page, registering seven goals and 37 assists for the major junior team.
In his Instagram post, Prokop said he wanted to thank his family, friends and agent for supporting his career and his decision to come out publicly.
“I hope that in sharing who I am, I can help other people see that gay people are welcome in the hockey community, as we work to make sure that hockey is truly for everyone,” he said.
“This is just the beginning of my journey and I am excited to see where it takes me, both in hockey and in life.”
While he did not play for the Edge Mountaineers, Prokop attended the Edge School while suiting up for the Hitmen throughout high school. Before attending the Rocky View County-based private school, he grew up playing for elite-level hockey teams in Edmonton, where is from.
The Edge School showed support for its recent alumnus with a social media statement on July 19.
“We are so proud of our Class of 2020 grad, Luke Prokop, for taking this brave step forward today,” the school posted on Instagram. “Thank you for sharing your true, authentic self with the world, and inspiring others to do the same.
“Hopefully, announcements like this [aren’t] news someday soon, but for now, this is truly a groundbreaking day, and the Edge community is behind you 100 per cent.”
The Edge School was not the only organization to support Prokop following his announcement. The Western Hockey League's administrative team commended his decision, while Thrashers’ president and CEO Sean Henry said the team is proud of their prospect’s courage, adding the Thrashers will “support him unequivocally” in the days, weeks and years to come.
“A long-stated goal in our organization is equality for all, including the LGBTQ community, and it is important that Luke feels comfortable and part of an inclusive environment as he moves forward in his career,” he said.
Prokop is the first player under an NHL contract, either active or retired, to come out as gay. He follows in the footsteps of Las Vegas Raiders football player Carl Nassib, who was the first active NFL player to announce he was gay, when he came out with a brief video statement last month.
“I may be new to the community, but I am eager to learn about the strong and resilient people who came before me and paved the way so I could be more comfortable today,” Prokop wrote in his statement.