Union’s Josh Kosack named 2022 Hockey Humanitarian recipient

By Pete Souris

Senior forward Josh Kosack (Oakville, Ont.) of the Union College men’s ice hockey team has been named the 2022 recipient of the Hockey Humanitarian Award, which was announced on Friday evening by the Hockey Humanitarian Award Foundation at the Encore Boston Hotel and Casino.

Kosack is the 27th honoree of the award dating back to 1996 and the fifth student-athlete from an ECAC Hockey institution to be selected. He was recognized during the Friday Night at the Frozen Four ceremony, alongside the recipients of the Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award (which Kosack won in 2021), the Mike Richter Award and the Hobey Baker Memorial Award.

Kosack, ECAC Hockey’s 2022 Student-Athlete of the Year, was one of two repeat finalists from last season, along with Andrew Walker (Mason, Mich.) and Jacob Adkins (Centennial, Colo.) from UMass Boston. Gabbie Hughes (Lino Lakes, Minn.) from Minnesota Duluth, Jordan Keeley (St. Peter, Minn.) from Saint Mary’s University, and Hannah Price (Pittsburgh, Pa.) from Rensselaer were the other finalists.

“I’m extremely honored to be this year’s recipient of the Hockey Humanitarian Award,” Kosack said. “It was truly remarkable to read about the stories of the other candidates and the differences they are making in their communities. I want to thank my Union College family and the Schenectady community for all the support they have given me in growing Kozi’s Kids and helping me to make a difference at the C.O.C.O.A. House, as well as Will Rivas for the inspiring work he has done for his community and mentoring the youth of Schenectady.”

The award is presented annually to college hockey’s finest citizen – a student-athlete who makes significant contributions not only to his or her team, but also to the community-at-large through leadership in volunteerism.

Kosack has spent the last three years making an impact in Schenectady and around the Capital Region through his Kozi’s Kids initiative, which started after an interaction with a young fan at a road game in 2019. Beginning as a way to introduce kids from the local community to hockey and life as a collegiate student-athlete, he quickly became more ingrained in the work of C.O.C.O.A. (Children of our Community Open to Achievement) House, which provides a safe after-school environment to foster academic enrichment and sustainable life skills for inner-city youth in Schenectady. Kosack began to spend time at the house weekly in addition to hosting kids from the group at home games, providing support with homework, participating in activities and being a role model.

When the pandemic limited in-person interactions during the 2020-21 season, Kosack pivoted his focus, raising more than $5,000 to purchase laptops and online learning equipment for C.O.C.O.A. House as well as Christmas presents for members of the community. With growing momentum for his cause, Kosack set an initial goal of $20,000 for his fundraiser this year and blew past that goal almost immediately, finishing with nearly $50,000, some of which will go towards a lounge area in C.O.C.O.A. House’s new Team Empowerment Center that is currently under construction.

“The Hockey Humanitarian Award Foundation congratulates Josh, as well as the other four finalists,” said Matt Patrick, Executive Director of the Hockey Humanitarian Award Foundation. “The Kozi’s Kids program is an inspiring testament to his initiative, leadership and commitment to help children in need. Indeed, the Foundation salutes all of this year’s nominees for their robust contributions to their communities and to those global issues that are dear to their hearts.”

On Friday night, the Hockey Humanitarian Award Foundation presented Kosack with a check for $3,000 for C.O.C.O.A. House. The other four finalists each received $500 for their respective designated charities. These donations from the HHA Foundation are possible through the generous support of the award’s partners and donors.