Kozak twins go varsity

Quade and Kianna Kozak choose football, women’s rugby for coming fall season

The Kozak Twins signing with Queen’s.
Photo supplied by Quade Kozak
While they didn’t plan to share a university, twins Quade and Kianna Kozak couldn’t resist the idea of becoming Queen’s Gaels.
Earlier this summer, Quade and Kianna committed to Queen’s as members of the football and women’s rugby teams, respectively.
Kianna committed to women’s rugby as a scrum half after only three years playing the sport, while Quade, five minutes her senior, is set to don tricolor for the football team as a quarterback.
The brother and sister duo, hailing from Sturgeon County, Alberta, said they picked Queen’s because it offered them something they needed and longed for: respected athletic program and a welcoming culture.
“When I came for my visit, I really felt at home at Queen’s,” Quade, who echoed similar sentiments to his sister, told The Journal. He added it was the football team’s coaching staff that initially piqued his interest, but the school itself clinched his enrollment. 
“Touring around the campus, I loved [it]. And I really loved the culture around the school.” 
The Kozaks, both planning to pursue a degree in economics, have always done a little bit of everything together. Despite playing in different leagues, they‘ve always found a way to compete against each other.
“Whenever we train together, it’s very competitive … For rugby, when she trains with me, it’s good for her because I can pick on her,” Quade said jokingly. 
Before getting into football and rugby, the twins spent six years as national rodeo competitors with their town’s local 4-H Alberta club, a program offering agriculture-based opportunities for kids in rural communities. 
Having grown up around horses, the twins built their way up from riding and showing horses to competing in rodeos through a family friend. Participation in rodeos was their first introduction to competition, and it showed them how hard work equates to success, Kianna said. 
“We really started from the bottom,” Kianna said. “Our horses weren’t used to it, and introducing cattle, we worked our way up the totem pole.”
When they began to toy with the idea of a future in athletics and not rodeo, their family and friends encouraged them to take up organized sport. 
Kianna, who had already been playing basketball in school, made the junior team in her first year of high school, which led to her first step away from rodeo. But after developing a hard-nosed reputation in tenth grade, her basketball coach suggested she try rugby.
“I went to rugby tryouts and fell in love,” she said. “And the rest is history.”
Kianna is currently training with a women’s league in Alberta before coming to Queen’s. Some of her teammates play for the University of Alberta and team Canada, which she noted helps in her development of becoming a collegiate varsity athlete.
“I’m hoping that playing and practicing with these girls will help the transition, but I still know it will be tough,” Kianna said.
Meanwhile, Quade was introduced to his choice of athletic trade by his lacrosse coach, who also doubled as a football coach.
Their father, Kelvin, said that Quade hadn’t even thought about football when it all began. 
“We got a call one night that said, ‘We need a football player.’ So he went out and played, and the rest is history,” Kelvin told The Journal. 
Optimistic for the upcoming season at Queen’s, Quade is preparing to make the jump from secondary to collegiate play, where the intricacies and details of the game are emphasized. 
“For me, its going to be very tough going from a playing level where plays aren’t in-depth and you don’t think about much when you’re playing to a level where you’re watching film every day and need to know what’s going on,” he said.
“I’m mostly thankful for the opportunity to play with [Queen’s].”

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