Schenectady, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Senior forward Josh Kosack of the Union College men’s hockey team was announced as the 2020-21 recipient of the Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award, the Hockey Commissioners Association (HCA) announced as part of the 2021 Hobey Baker Award show on Friday night.
The award is given out annually by the HCA to the Division I men’s hockey player “who displays exemplary sportsmanship, is supremely competitive, intelligent and extraordinarily conditioned with an unmatched work ethic,” whose contributions cannot be measured by statistics alone. The award is named in honor of Derek Hines, a four-year letterwinner at Army West Point and a “consummate team player and team builder,” who was killed while serving his country in Afghanistan in 2005.
“I am incredibly honored and humbled to win this prestigious award,” Kosack said. “Derek Hines’ exemplary leadership, unwavering discipline, and commitment to putting others before himself are profoundly inspiring qualities to all collegiate athletes. Winning this award showcases what Union Hockey is all about and I can’t thank my coaches, teammates and the Union community enough for pushing me to continuously work to be my best self.”
Each Division I men’s hockey conference nominates one student-athlete for the award, which is selected by the six conference media contacts as well as Lt. Steve Hines, Derek’s father, and Army West Point head coach Brian Riley. Kosack is the fourth ECAC Hockey player to earn the prestigious honor and the first since 2012.
Kosack has been in the mix for multiple prestigious conference and national awards this season, finishing as a finalist for both the Hockey Humanitarian Award and the ECAC Hockey Student-Athlete of the Year award.
“During his time at Union, Josh has excelled in the classroom and thrived as a leader both on and off the ice,” said head men’s hockey coach Rick Bennett. “Through his work ethic and humility in all he does, he has earned the respect of professors, athletic administration, coaches, and peers. On the ice he is responsible for checking the other team’s top lines, blocking countless shots on the penalty kill, and finishing checks to lift his teammates. He defines the term “captain” by his actions in his daily life and he has helped shape what leadership in our program will look like for years to come.”
On the ice, Kosack has been a consistent contributor to the Dutchmen through his first three seasons, appearing in 95 games with six goals and 10 assists for 16 points. The economics major also boasts one of the highest GPAs on the team and is already a three-time ECAC Hockey All-Academic Team selection. Serving as team captain this season, he helped guide the team through a turbulent fall trimester that featured the cancellation of the 2020-21 season.
Off the ice, Kosack has made incredible contributions to the Schenectady community through his Kozi’s Kids initiative. Through the program, which utilizes unused game tickets and concession vouchers from Union players, Kosack arranges for transportation to a Union men’s hockey game, gives children a tour of the locker room before the game, and also answers questions from the children about life as a college student and a student-athlete.
The nature of Kozi’s Kids changed dramatically this year due to the pandemic, but that did not stop Kosack from giving back to the community in different ways. Without hockey games to bring local children to this season, he single-handedly raised more than $5,000 to purchase Christmas presents for COCOA House in Schenectady this holiday season. And in the same week that his team received word that its 2020-21 season was canceled, Josh delivered more than 100 coats to a local Schenectady charity as part of a drive he initiated on campus.