Kozinski brothers committed to Christ on and off the court

Published 1:46 pm Thursday, February 23, 2017

In a quiet gymnasium one Friday afternoon in January, the sound of footsteps on bleachers bounces off the concrete walls at Edwardsburg High School as Adam Kozinski finds a seat.

The varsity athlete stretches his long limbs as he pulls on his sneakers, calm and quiet before the big game.

He straps the Velcro on his Nike Lebron Soldiers, making sure to strap them tightly. Still in pristine condition, the shoes are completely white — with the exception of a phrase on each foot.

On his right shoe, “Psalm 3:16” is written in black marker, tracing the rubber that leads to his toes. On his left foot, “Psalm 3:6” reminds him he “can do all things through Christ who strengthens [him].”

The handwritten messages are a tradition in the Kozinski family, started by Adam’s brother Josh during his time playing for the Eddies to not only display his faith, but to inspire the Kozinski brothers during adversity on the court.

Adam and Josh both credit their parents, Jeff and Aimee Kozinski, along with their grandmother, for their deep religious beliefs.

“At a young age, I had religion put in my life by my parents,” Adam said.

Both Adam and Josh take time before every game to pray.

“It really boosts my confidence to know I have God behind me,” Adam said. “I know God has my back.”

For Josh and Adam, sportsmanship has always been at the forefront of their participation in athletics.

“Having Christian parents, mine are heavy on doing the right thing,” said Josh, a junior on the Central Michigan University basketball team. “On the basketball court you need to do the right thing. You need to be a good teammate. You need to be a good opponent. Then off the floor you want to do something good for someone
every day.”

The Kozinskis’ father, who has coached multiple sports teams at Edwardsburg, also inspired this level of virtue in athletics.

“It is all about morality,” Adam said. “If someone falls down I always try to help them back up. You know that if someone got knocked down, Jesus would not just step over him.

“You always want to respect any game you play. Religion really does play a role in that, too, because you always want to be nice to people and have great sportsmanship toward the opponents you are facing.”

The first time Adam saw someone with a message written on his shoes was when Josh did it back in eighth grade.

“My brother Josh started writing a couple of scripture readings on his shoes, so I said ‘hey, I should do that.’ What I really do when I look for my scripture readings is I look online. I just look up great sportsmanship or great motivation readings I should put on my shoes. So every time I look down at my shoes, it helps me during a game. I kind of pick the ones that really inspire me and I will remember.”

Two of Adam’s most recent scripture readings on his shoes were Psalms 3:6: “I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side” and Philippians 4:13: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

“It all started with my grandma,” Josh said. “She was always a very religious lady. She told me to write on my shoe, ‘All for his honor and glory.’ So the start of my junior year when I would look down I would see it and think of her. I would think of how it is really a blessing to be able to play the sport I do because some people do not.”

He said teammates and opponents notice from time to time, but for the most part he plays the game without anyone asking about his shoes.

“I had people ask me about them my first year in high school,” he said. “I did in middle school. They asked me why I was ruining my shoes by writing on them. I did not think of it as ruining my shoes. I think it is pretty cool for me to write on them because not a lot of people do it.”

Josh is a member of a Christian athlete group at Central Michigan. There are a handful of teammates in the group as well as a manager who speaks to the group.

“He does a great job of getting involved in the community,” he said. “Luckily, here at Central Michigan I have great teammates and great people around me. Being able to see them at church on Sundays is great. Being a part of a team that is so involved in the community and in the church is special.”

Josh and Adam were both in agreement as to whom they looked up to in the professional ranks when it comes to athletes not shying away from religion.

Both said it was former University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.

“He really wore his heart on his sleeve when it came to religion,” he said. “He would wear the eye black with things like ‘John 3:16’ on it. He would be my one big role model.”

“Tim Tebow really does not care what anybody else thinks,” Josh said. “He is strong in his faith and he gets a lot of flak for it. I guess that is the world we live in today. I guess you get made fun of for being strong in your faith. He is a strong human being and I look up to him for that.”

Josh and Adam Kozinski will not waver in their faith either.

All they have to do is look down at their shoes.