When Arizona State offensive lineman Chip Sarafin publicly announced that he was gay, he never anticipated the aftermath.
“At first, I didn’t think it was going to blow up as much as it did,” he told media gathered at Camp Tontozona on Thursday.
Sarafin, a Gilbert, Ariz. native, didn’t want to hoard the attention the story was getting nationally, but deflected it and pointed to ASU for its support of him.
“It’s definitely good to see that a lot of people out there are positive about it and I’m glad it’s giving Arizona State some good positive media attention,” he said, before describing the program the same way his coach often does.
“Arizona State — we’re a brotherhood. As far as when it comes to how players treat each other, we’re one unit, you know. There’s no offense or defense, O-line or D-line, we’re all together working toward the same goal.”
He went on to say that he was proud of the players ASU had, describing them as “high-caliber both on and off the field.”
Sarafin, the first openly gay active Division I football player, may have spoken so highly of his teammates partly because of their stewardship of his former secret over the last several months.
“When I did tell my teammates, I kind of just let the people know who were asking about it at first and then I kind of just let it go from there,” he said.
Teammates like junior running back D.J. Foster knew of Sarafin’s orientation since last season.
“We’ve known for a while,” Foster said Thursday. “I’ve had countless talks (with) Chip about the situation; he knows that we have full support with him. He knows that we have his back no matter what.”
Attitudes such as Foster’s seem to stem from that same word head coach Todd Graham and Sarafin like to toss around: brotherhood.
“We talk about being a Sun Devil brotherhood and we’re all about relationships built on respect,” Graham said. “That’s respecting each other’s differences whether it be cultural, religious, or whatever that might be.”
Sarafin, who graduated in the spring with a degree in biomedical engineering, indicated Thursday that he thought athletes were too often pigeonholed into certain personas. He tends to share a more holistic view of the modern-day student athlete.
“Athletes should be able to be themselves no matter what they are — orientation, race, religion, anything,” he said.
In front of the largest media huddle he’d ever faced, Sarafin boasted throughout his Thursday interview of the off-the-field accomplishments and character of Sun Devil football players, speaking of the overall academic prowess of his teammates and their commitment to each other.
“Eventually, I’m hoping stuff like this won’t be as big of a news story,” the Highland High product said near the end of his session with reporters.
“Obviously, there are probably other players out there (who are gay, as well)… I hope they have a brotherhood as strong as I have here.”
Craig Grialou contributed to this story.