MAHOPAC, N.Y. – Mahopac’s athletic department and football program honored first responders and retired the number of a former player and serviceman killed in the line of duty at a pregame ceremony on Friday, Oct. 4.
Chief Warrant Officer Michael Kozloski, 35, a 2001 Mahopac graduate, was killed in January while working in the Coast Guard buoy yard in Homer, Alaska. Kozloski, who had a wife, Brienne, and four children, was in the Coast Guard for 17 years.
Members of the Kozloski family, and friends of the family, were on hand in an emotional ceremony at midfield, as Mahopac legendary coaches Joe Corace, Ted Georgalas and Gerry Keevins presented the family with an engraved plaque. Current coach Dom DeMatteo, Athletic Director Frank Miele and Superintendent Anthony DeCarlo presented family members with a framed jersey, with Kozloski’s No. 62, which was retired. The number will also stay on the field’s scoreboard permanently.
Ally Mosiello, Kozloski’s best friend in high school, said the community ceremony was a fitting tribute to his friend.
“We were inseparable in high school,” Mosiello said. “He was a great human being, really an excellent person. Tonight meant the world...to his family. It’s making the best of a bad situation, and we all really appreciate that he’ll be immortalized on the field.”
The second part of the ceremony honored first responders, and included firefighters and police and sheriff deputies from around the area, NYPD members, and medical emergency responders. Also on hand were the Mahopac Maniacs, cheerleaders, the ‘Pac-Apellas Choir, and various Mahopac youth programs. There was also a flyover by a medical transport helicopter out of Westchester airport.
The event was the brainchild of Miele, who, along with many in the crowd, were deeply moved by the two ceremonies that took place.
“I’ve worked here for 39 years, and had the good luck to come back this year,” Miele said. “I’m big on giving back, on saying thank you to people who are so instrumental to our safety, and to the spirit in our community, and that’s what this night was about.
“This is why people move to Mahopac; there’s a special spirit to it,” Miele added. “I have it—I bleed blue and gold. And tonight was a night where all of those pieces kind of fit together. I had organized the Heroes Night first, then the Kozloski (number retirement) came across my desk, and it seemed like everything kind of fit. It was a special night that really says what our community is all about.”