Former Maryland men's soccer midfielder Robbie Rogers was known as a standout player for the Terps in 2005, helping the squad win a national championship.
Years later, he's not just known for his play with the LA Galaxy. The 29-year-old is the lone openly gay active MLS player after coming out in 2013.
With the help of Rogers, the Maryland athletic department will honor the LGBT community by hosting "Maryland United Night" when the top-ranked Terps face Ohio State at Ludwig Field on Friday night.
"It's a great opportunity to show our unwavering support for the LGBT community," coach Sasho Cirovski said. "My only hope is that anyone that is in the LGBT community shouldn't have to wait until they're 26 years old to come out. Hopefully through our efforts people will be able to feel more welcome at younger ages and they won't have to hide their sexuality."
The event will also be going on at Maryland field hockey's game against Michigan State, which begins at 6 p.m. at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex. Friday's contest will include an auction with signed memorabilia from Rogers with proceeds going toward the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, a charity he picked. T-shirts inspired by Rogers will also be given away.
Rogers said it can be hard for athletes to come out. On top of some people's opposition to homosexuality, athletes are constantly surrounded by males and share a locker room with them. A lot of his teammates' conversations are about women, Rogers said.
Rogers said some players fear their friends and family won't accept them after coming out.
Within the past three years, former NBA player Jason Collins and former NFL player Michael Sam came out. Yet it frustrates Rogers that more athletes haven't been open about their sexual orientation.
"The most difficult answer or the truth about it is you can do so much, but it's going to come down to the athletes making a decision," Rogers said. "To have events like this, it's just very inviting and it gives people a taste of soccer or whatever sport, and they see … it's really an accepting place and a place for all of us."
In the WNBA, many stars have come out, including four players on the U.S. women's basketball team. WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne publicly disclosed her same-sex relationship in August.
In 2014, MLS designated a contact person who helps process harassment complaints from players to help protect them from discrimination based on their sexual orientation. The NFL and MLB have taken similar actions to guard LGBT athletes.
But players still haven't followed every rule. Rogers said an opponent once called him a "queer." Last season, former Sacramento Kings point guard Rajon Rondo was suspended after stating anti-gay slurs to a referee who later came out as gay.
Rogers believes strides are being made in accepting LGBT athletes. Most professional sports teams hold LGBT nights at least once per season, and Maryland is following that trend Friday with their first LGBT event before a game.
"[Friday] sounds like a good thing for Maryland and sports overall in general," defender Andrew Samuels said. "I'm excited we're going to be a part of it."
There were also a record number of 56 openly LGBT athletes who competed in the Rio Olympics this summer. Plus, Rogers said a lot of young LGBT athletes have reached out to him. He's found most are accepted more than they were in the past.
"To have a night like this where it's really exciting and out on the forefront, to be able to talk about it, it's really great for college sports and sports in general," Rogers said. "I'm just excited to see how things will change for my son and other kids who are themselves and they don't know any better. They're just living their lives."