Olympian Lucas Kozeniesky Visits Hillsdale

By Cal McNellie

Last year, Hillsdale College partnered with USA Shooting to establish the Halter Shooting Sport Center as the official home of the United States National team. In this historic move, Hillsdale cemented a reputation for support of the second amendment, shooting sports, and shooting education. One way the College fulfils this new role is by inviting the top shooters and coaches to compete and learn on its campus. 

On May 13, 2021, Olympian and shooting coach, Lucas Kozeniesky, brought his 17 athletes to Hillsdale College for the Junior Olympic Small Bore .22 Caliber Rifle and Air Rifle Championship. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, traditional ranges were not available to host the Championship. The College, eager to help their new partners, offered their indoor track facility, the Margot V. Biermann Athletic Center. Despite being very busy on competition day as a coach, Kozeniesky had time for a couple questions about his journey and story.

Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Kozeniesky began shooting in 2009 while in high school. He attended North Carolina State in Raleigh, North Carolina. As a member of the Wolfpack shooting team, Kozeniesky would be named All-American twice and was the first NC State shooter to earn that honor since 1975. While in college, Kozeniesky qualified to represent the United States in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. After the Olympics, Kozeniesky entered the US Olympic Resident Program where he was able to live and train in the United States Olympic Training Facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 

During this time, he also began his coaching career. This is a common path for many olympians and a great way to earn extra income while sharing the knowledge and passion of the sport with the next generation of athletes. Kozeniesky also qualified for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. These games were unfortunately cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Kozeniesky will likely represent the US in the rescheduled 2021 games. 

As a coach, Kozeniesky is able to share his knowledge with shooters from many states and travel around the country at various competitions. For Kozenisesky, shooting is a special sport because it is very individual, but can become something much more. A shooter’s performance each day is based only on their own preparation and focus. This is true at all levels. If a shooter is successful enough, they can then earn an opportunity to represent their country as an individual, something few people get to do. This concept is exciting for Kozeniesky and one of his motivations for coaching. 

When asked about his best piece of advice for young shooters, Kozeniseky responded with one word: patience. It is impossible to become a world class shooter overnight. To have any chance of success, athletes must be willing to dedicate years to their craft.

Kozeniesky was very pleased with the event and said “Hillsdale does a really nice job of it. It’s a really nice balance. The range is excellent.” Putting the magnitude of the event in perspective, Kozeniesky pointed out “Junior Olympics is the biggest junior event in our country and to run it at a place like Hillsdale…That’s a big deal. It’s good for the sport.” Bringing the best in the world like Lucas Kozeniesky to Hillsdale is important because it underlines the power and limitless possibilities of the young partnership between USA Shooting and Hillsdale.

Calvin McNellie, ’21, studies finance and politics. He resides in Cleveland, Ohio. A member of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity and the Hillsdale College football team, Calvin’s interests include politics, fitness, woodworking, and jean shorts. He considers himself extremely blessed to be a student at Hillsdale College and a citizen of the greatest nation in the world.

Published in May 2021