Lindenwood Remembers Isaiah Kozak

PHOTO BY DON ADAMS JR.

Lindenwood sophomore midfielder Isaiah Kozak scored three times in six games this season.


Lindenwood was up big on Ohio Valley last weekend when freshman Cole Trullender started thinking about the possibility of scoring his first collegiate goal.

"Don't worry," his linemate, sophomore Isaiah Kozak, said. "I'll get you that goal."

Trullender scored the final goal of a 30-5 win on Saturday, and Kozak was the first to congratulate him.

“I told you you’d get it!” Kozak said.

“I feel so good, but I wish I could have that ball to remember it," Trullender told his teammate.

For the next two minutes, Kozak kept track of the ball, which started with the faceoff and traveled across the field. When the final whistle blew, Kozak's teammates headed toward the goal to celebrate, but he darted to the other side of the field to get the ball.

“Cole, I got you your ball, buddy,” Kozak said to Trullender.

It's one of the most vivid memories Lindenwood coach Jim Lange has of Kozak, a sophomore midfielder. The men's lacrosse team now is remembering Kozak, the "spirit of the team," after he was found dead after taking his own life in a campus dormitory Tuesday afternoon.

The Lions, who had gotten of to a hot start to the 2017 season, are now facing tragedy after losing one of their own. Lange and his teammates remember Kozak as a hard worker and a young man that always had a smile on his face.







“He loved the game of lacrosse more than anyone I’ve ever met," said sophomore long-stick midfielder Mike Snodgrass, Kozak's roommate. "Everything he did was for the game of lacrosse. He hit the wall two hours a day after practice. Then, he’d do his homework. Then, he’d go to bed and get up early. He brought this attitude every day. There was never a bad day for Isaiah Kozak.”

Kozak came to Lindenwood via Penticton, British Columbia, where he starred for Penticton Secondary and the Burnaby Mountain Selects club team. He never visited Lindenwood before committing, but Lange knew he had the attitude for which he was looking.

He'd work three jobs during the summer just to be able to afford to play at Lindenwood. He set two alarms each morning — one at 6 a.m. and the other at 6:05 a.m. — to ensure he could fit extra work into the day.

Kozak established himself as a leader for the Lions, emerging as one of the most vocal players and scoring three goals in six games this season. 

"By far, his legacy on this team is going to be the best team player that we’ve ever had around,” Lange said. “No one cared about every single person on this team more than Isaiah.”

The team held a memorial service Wednesday afternoon at Hunter Stadium, where Lindenwood played its home games. More than 1,000 fans and friends came out to hear and share stories of Kozak's impact on the community. On the scoreboard were the words “Isaiah” as the home team and “Kozak” as the away team, and the clock read :41, in honor of Kozak's No. 41 jersey.

Teammates and coaches shared their stories of Kozak, a player that enjoyed playing at Lindenwood and helping his teammates. Snodgrass even listened to stories about his roommate that he'd never heard.

“That was the first time that myself and a lot of the guys felt normal for a little bit," Lange said. "As normal as we could. Just to be able to tell stories and laugh a little bit, because that’s the kind of kid he was.”

A GoFundMe page was started by Lindenwood alumna Maddi Ossello to help fund travel and funeral expenses for his family located in British Columbia. The team will wear a No. 41 patch on jerseys and a sticker on hemlets for the rest of the season.

 

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