DELL RAPIDS, S.D. (AP) — A volleyball and baseball coach at St. Mary High School in Dell Rapids has publicly announced he's gay.

Twenty-five-year-old Nate Alfson made the announcement Tuesday in an online essay. Both he and local sportscaster Mike Henriksen say Alfson is believed to be the first openly gay high school coach in South Dakota.

Alfson is originally from Pipestone, Minnesota. He played baseball at Augustana College in Sioux Falls.

Alfson says he's prepared for criticism and strong reactions to his decision, including the possibility of it causing problems with his employment at a Catholic school. But he says he's also received support, and feels that a tremendous burden has been lifted from his shoulders.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.