The Henderson State Football athletic trainer has been coaching students back to health for more than two decades. It’s a job he doesn’t take lightly. However, up until recently he’s kept something from the staff and students.
With every play and every hit, Robert Redding is on the sidelines carefully watching. Redding is the Henderson State assistant athletic director for sports medicine and the main athletic trainer for Reddies Football.
Not just on the field, but in the training room he helps get players in tip-top shape for their best performance.
He’s been the athletic director at different schools for more than 20 years, but during most of his career he’s kept something from the programs he’s worked for.
“It’s a thing that everybody just doesn’t want to talk about,” said Redding.
That was until he was inspired to speak out this year.
“Maybe my little voice can bring a little light into the darkness so to speak,” he said.
He wrote an article for SB Nation’s Outsports.com. It’s a website that says it’s a voice for LGBT athletes.
“I wanted to show people that it’s acceptable to be an out, professional gay man in the world today,” said Redding.
He decided to write it after attending a conference over the summer. His hope was to to show other gay student athletes it’s okay, especially in a football environment.
“Being taboo about talking about it. If no one talks about it there is no awareness of it,” explained Redding. “It brings some more visibility to those issues.”
He’s received more support at Henderson State than he ever expected.
“It took a lot of courage for Rob to come out and express his feelings about the person he really is. I think that just proves the kind of man that he is,” said head football coach Scott Maxfield.
As for the student athletes, he was most concerned with how they would perceive it. But the response was only encouragement.
“I think it’s a great thing for him to come out and say what he really believes in,” said quarterback Blake Reeve. “It didn’t really effect the environment. We’re all family here. We support one another.”
As he continues to do his job, like he has for the last two decades, he says others from across the globe have reached out to him thankful for his words.
“I got an email from a guy in South Africa said ‘I like your story, it’s really good, it inspires me to be who I am,’ and that’s important,” said Redding.
That’s why he put his words and story in writing for the world to see.