Facu Imhoff’s body wasn’t right. Despite only being in his 20s, the Argentinian pro volleyball player was breaking down.

Then he publicly came out as gay, and immediately felt better. Finally, Imhoff could live freely.

“I was bad, I was very stuck. My mind was on other things, and I had to solve it,” he said in a coming out interview, with answers translated from Spanish to English. “I couldn’t put maximum energy into sports and there came a time when my body began to take its toll. By accepting myself, I let go of a very large backpack, which made my performance improve.”

Five years later, Imhoff is at the top of his game. Now playing professionally in Switzerland, his club just won the Swiss Cup, the biggest prize in the sport.

He posted some celebratory pics on Instagram; and man, it looks like he had a blast!

Clearly, Imhoff is embraced by all of his teammates.

“After [coming out], it was very positive for me in all aspects of my life,” he said. “The players accepted me, they called me from the National Team. [Being] that example that I didn’t have, that positive example, maybe a player or a person needs it.”

The championship run was especially sweet for Imhoff, considering he underwent shoulder surgery almost exactly one year ago.

“This is a post to say THANK YOU!!! Today marks 1 year anniversary of my shoulder surgery. And I didn’t imagine being on the courts so fast enjoying the sport I love the most,” he posted March 10. “THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU 🙏🏼.”

Imhoff’s club, Volley Amriswill, responded with a championship run.

An array of Argentinian pro athletes came out around the same time as Imhoff in 2019. Soccer players Nicolas Fernandez and Mara Gomez came out, as well as basketball player Sebastian Vega in 2020.

All three enjoyed positive experiences as well.

“The most beautiful thing of all is that nothing has changed–on the contrary, it has changed for the better,” Vega said at the time. “We formed a stronger bond.”

Imhoff, for his part, has said he’s only heard homophobic comments one time, when he was playing in a semi-final match. But he was able to brush off the ignorant vitriol, with an assist from his supportive peers.

“I felt supported by the players on my team and the opponent,” he said. “I decided to laugh.”

Imhoff appreciates his teammates so much, he posted a special message at the end of last season.

“One more league to come to an end 😭 THANK YOU,” he wrote. “Thank You Team!!”

Despite Imhoff’s positive experience, there remains a dearth of out gay male pro volleyball stars. Chris Voth, who also plays in Switzerland, is one of the few.

Voth has found success in Switzerland, winning a championship as well. But he believes his coming out has also cost him.

Voth says he was denied a pro contract in Europe because he’s gay.

But then again, that incident happened in 2017. It’s apparent that UCLA standout Merrick McHenry, one of the best male volleyball players in the U.S., isn’t encountering any problems.

Last month, we highlighted two male beach volleyball players who started as teammates…and then fell in love.

They say they haven’t experienced any discrimination within the sport, either.

Imhoff spoke about volleyball’s inclusion, and his reverence for his country and sport, in a special Pride Month message.

“Ending pride day like this! Playing the sport I choose to do professionally and the flag I am so proud of (in the socks),” he wrote.

“And I make it clear again that I am not proud to be gay, but to freely live my sexuality without reporting to anyone and feeling happy about who I am as a person.”

His attire, and socks, matched his message.

It’s clear that Imhoff love his life away from the court, too. Last summer, he vacationed in Ibiza (jealous) and dyed his hair blue.

As he puts it, he’s just a regular guy who’s having fun.

“I decided to [come out] because it is normal,” he said,

Amen to that!

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