A Catholic school girls’ volleyball coach has said he feels like he “can breathe”, now that he has come out as gay.

Nate Alfson, 25, is believed to be the first openly gay high school coach in the state of South Dakota. He coaches volleyball at St Mary.

“I can breathe, I can smile, and I’m not afraid to cry, and I’m not afraid to feel what I’m feeling,” Alfson told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

“I identify myself as a gay, Christian, athlete with a lot of different interests. I am writing my story to share with the world that it is OK to be who you are born as and feel confident about it. I have found that there are other people in the world just like me and I don’t have to feel alone any longer,” he wrote in OutSports.

“I haven’t yet told officials at the Catholic high school where I coach volleyball… This might be a challenge but I am confident it will work out for the best and the Earth will still keep turning regardless of the outcome. I hope it doesn’t affect my opportunity to be a good role model for the athletes.”

He also coached baseball at St Mary, Dell Rapids and Baltic high schools.

Despite being unaware of whether he had signed a multi-year contract, or only for one term, Alfson says St Mary know that he wishes to continue coaching the team.