Kenny Cooley said he wasn’t nervous about starting 12th grade at Halifax West High School in Canada, but he did worry when he decided to put his name on the try-out list for the school football team. Cooley is a 17-year-old trans man.
“I was scared of what other people would think about me on the team and I felt like I wouldn’t fit in,” Cooley told CTV News Channel. “It took me about a good hour of pacing around the school and then I finally had the courage to go up and grab a pencil and I decided to put my name on the list.”
Not only did he make the team, Cooley was chosen to be wide receiver, and the Halifax West Warriors played their first game Monday. His dad cheered from the stands, and his mother told CTV she’s happy to see the team treat her son “like one of the guys.”
“That’s what he wants to be — included, and he wants to be one of the other guys. I thank the team for everything they’ve been doing,” she said.
“I was super nervous. I had butterflies in my stomach and I had chills, just everything,” Cooley told CTV.
Cooley described his teammates as “caring” and “accepting.” He had transferred to West Halifax from a less accepting school two years ago.
“It wasn’t very comfortable for me,” he said. “They weren’t really accepting of the LGBT2QA+ community, so I made the switch.”
Cooley’s coach said this bright young man is likely to teach his teammates lessons both on and off the field.
“It will help kids to maybe understand Kenny’s issues and some of the things that Kenny is facing and it will give them the perspective that they probably wouldn’t have had before,” head coach David Kelly told CTV.
Cooley had a message for other teenagers who might fear stepping outside their comfort zone, or being nervous to try something new.
“Don’t hesitate,” he said. “It’s just like a needle. You’re so worried about it until it actually happens, and when it does you realize you’re okay. People need to start taking the leap.”
Watch the report from CTV below: