BOSTON — Union senior captain Josh Kosack is the winner of the 2022 Hockey Humanitarian Award, presented each year to recognize hockey’s finest citizen in community service.
The award was presented at the Encore Boston Harbor Resort on Friday.
Kosack was recognized for raising $45,000 for C.O.C.O.A. House in Schenectady, N.Y., in the second annual Kozi’s Kids fundraiser, bringing his two-year total to over $50,000. Money from the fundraiser went toward buying Christmas presents for local children, the development of a Kozi’s Kids Lounge in a second C.O.C.O.A. House location, and funding other projects for the non-profit.
C.O.C.O.A. House was started by Union students in 1996 to provide academic support and opportunities for at-risk youth. Kosack got involved after a chance encounter with a boy with Down Syndrome at a road game at Dartmouth resulted in thanks to Union’s president from the boy’s mother.
“You never know what impact you’ll have on somebody else’s life by a small gesture,” said Kosack. “The whole entire thing started with me just chatting with a kid in the stands and giving him a puck, and now we’re here. … You never know whose life you might impact.”
Kosack said that the best part of his involvement with Kozi’s Kids and C.O.C.O.A. House was how it developed “organically.”
“It started with providing tickets [to Union hockey games]. I had no idea what I wanted to do,” said Kosack.
Then he met Will Rivas, the executive director of C.O.C.O.A. House.
“I met with different groups around the community and meeting Will, we just really hit it off. And, you know, he walked in their shoes – he went to C.O.C.O.A. House when he was a kid so he knows exactly what they’re going through,” said Kosack. “They’ve had a bigger impact on my life than I would like to think I’ve had on their life, [giving me] perspective in life and gratitude.”
The main message Kosack said he wanted to get across in his acceptance speech was for people also to be thankful and have gratitude.
“I was lucky enough to have my parents put me through college,” Kosack said. “If I was struggling with classes growing up, they got me a tutor. If I needed skating lessons, they got me a skating coach. … I was so thankful.”
Kosack contrasted that with the situation others face.
“There are so many kids that aren’t dealt a very fair hand in life, and they grow up and they don’t have those opportunities. A lot of them don’t have the right guidance, they don’t know right from wrong,” Kosack said.
And that’s where gratitude comes in.
“When things are going tough for you, and you think you’re down in the dumps, whatever, somebody else always has it worse,” said Kosack. “The whole process of Kozi’s Kids fundraising just really has taught me to be grateful for what you have and not stressed about what you don’t have.”
Kosack is no stranger to national recognition. He was the 2021 Derek Hines Unsung Hero award winner and was ECAC Hockey’s 2022 student-athlete of the year.
Kosack encouraged other student-athletes to find ways to contribute in their communities.
“Just put yourself out there,” he said. “You never know whose life you might impact.”