Valparaiso University’s Ryan Kozey (Waterford, Wis./Union H.S.) is one of 10 finalists nationally for the Awards and Recognition Association (ARA) Sportsmanship Award, given to one outstanding NCAA Division I collegiate football player who best personifies the spirit of sportsmanship.
It is the only national award that recognizes an athlete’s character and leadership as it translates to sportsmanship. To qualify, an athlete must be a starter or significant contributor; be a senior in good academic standing; demonstrate great respect for competitors, school, teammates and coaches; show an ability to accept victory and defeat graciously; convey a high degree of humility and integrity; and demonstrate commitment in the classroom and to the community.
Kozey, a senior offensive tackle, was a First Team All-Pioneer Football League selection for the Crusaders as a junior. A team captain and a three-year starter, he is a civil engineering major and has been named to the PFL Fall Academic Honor Roll three times. Last year, he also was named to the league’s All-Academic Team.
Kozey has been active in the community as well, participating in several events at local grade schools, participating in Read for Fun days as well as walking with the Central Elementary Striders. This group was formed at the school to promote good health, and the students walk during their lunch hour. In addition, Kozey has participated in various walks to raise money for diabetes, AIDS, and cancer. He has also spent time teaching at youth football camps back home at Waterford Union High School in Wisconsin and also coached basketball for kids in grades K-5 for several years.
The other finalists for this award, which will be announced in December, include Joe Craddock of Middle Tennessee State, Javier Estopinan of Florida, Casey Gerald of Yale, Kole Heckendorf of North Dakota State, Tim Hiller of Western Michigan, Jan Jorgensen of Brigham Young, Eric Peterman of Northwestern, Austin Starr of Indiana, and Drew Weatherford of Florida State.