Photo provided by Jason Kozak.
Jason Kozak towers over the volleyball court at 6’6”. His height allows him to smack down any shots that come near him. He has played on the Washington High School team since he was a freshman, and he won the team MVP award for the 2018-19 season. Jason plays the middle blocker/ outside hitter position on the varsity volleyball team. The middle blocker’s role is to be the first line of defense against the opposing team’s hitters. The outside hitter plays the role of the lead attacker.
When I asked Jason’s teammate, senior Tim DeGuzman, about what it is like playing with Jason he said, “Jason is one of the best teammates I’ve ever played with in my life. He’s constantly pushing to get better and he pushes me and the rest of the team to improve as well.” He also added a testament to Jason’s leadership skills: “Playing with Jason on the team really makes everyone on the court so much better. He brings the leadership and experience that some of our teammates lack and makes it easier to play and improve,” says DeGuzman.
Jason started playing volleyball when he was seven years old and played on his first real team at nine years old. His parents played an important role in sparking his interest in the sport, since both his parents played as well. “I got into volleyball through my parents,” Jason says. “They are longtime players and I grew up watching their tournaments.” His inspiration and idol in volleyball is Conrad Komenski. “I grew up watching him play at Stanford. He plays my position and is one of the best in the world at it,” says Jason. After high school, he will continue to play volleyball. “At the beginning of my junior year I commited to play D1 for Ohio State. So that’s how I plan on playing after high school.” According to the Next College Student Athlete (NCSA) college power rankings, Ohio State’s men’s volleyball team ranks eighth overall in the country.
Due to COVID-19, his plans of playing this year have been “derailed,” as he puts it. He is hoping to get back in the gym as soon as possible so he can better his skills and practice more. “I really miss [volleyball],” he says. “I know my teammates do, too.” As to his major after high school, he says he wants to major in mechanical engineering like Conrad Komenski. “He’s a mechanical engineer, which is what I hope to major in.” All his plans and the team’s plans have been destroyed by this pandemic, since their season was cancelled last year and their upcoming season has been delayed, which is something the whole team had been working towards.
“Our team last year was really devastated when the season got cancelled,” Jason says. “We really did have a good chance at winning the league.”
Aansh Sharma is a junior at Washington High School. He grew up in Munich, Germany and Mumbai, India and then Fremont, California. This is his first year at the Hatchet. His interests are running the Gaming Club and reporting on the local news. He also likes to play video games. He would like to get a job in Computer Science to allow him to support himself. While Computer Science seems boring, he will try to have fun with it despite that, and also distract himself with gaming sometimes.