GREAT FALLS — Patrick Kosena had a nondescript playing career with the Carroll College football program.
A three-sport high school standout at Missoula Loyola, Kosena expected to join the Fighting Saints in 2014 and become “the guy.” But that isn’t how his college football career unfolded.
Kosena was just a guy for the Saints, playing sparingly from 2014-17, but those four years in Helena propelled Kosena into adulthood, and life has since come at him fast.
“When I went to Carroll and I wasn’t the guy, I really started to draw on and lean toward what’s my next identity and focusing on school, focusing on my personal life,” said Kosena, who graduated from Carroll in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in sports management. “Football afforded me an opportunity to advance my career, and when I crossed that stage, no matter how many snaps I had played, I remember looking back and being like, ‘That decision to go to Carroll College was the best decision I’ve ever made.’ I learned a lot, I had a ton of fun, I got out of Carroll College exactly what I wanted to and ultimately that’s the experience I want to pay forward.”
That’s exactly what Kosena is set to do now that he’s completed his master’s degree of arts and business with a specialization in intercollegiate athletic administration at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. On July 1, he will become the assistant to the athletic director at Nebraska and work alongside Bill Moos, who was the athletic director at the University of Montana from 1990-95 and has been the Nebraska AD since 2017.
Kosena will travel with Moos to assist in some fundraising projects while also working on growing the alumni network. Moos intends to bring former Cornhusker players back to Lincoln to not only recognize some of the great athletes in the illustrious program’s history, but also lay the foundation for past classes to network. Kosena will be one of the point men on that project.
Helping bridge the past at a place like Nebraska is important — the Huskers won football national championships in 1970, 1971, 1994, 1995 and 1997 — but there also has to be an eye toward the future. In that vein, Kosena will be doing a lot of work with student-athletes on the new name, image and likeness legislation.
“It’s going to give these young men and women a voice and then it’s going to give them essentially a piece of the pie, but it’s going to give them a piece of the pie off of what they have earned,” Kosena said. “They’ve worked a lot of years to get to a place to where their name, image and likeness means something, and now if people want to give them money or essentially pay them to come do an endorsement or autograph signing or whatever it is, they worked hard to make their name worth something.”
NIL legislation is a potential boon for many college athletes, especially those at a storied university like Nebraska. It also comes with a lot of questions and learning opportunities, according to Kosena.
“I think that college athletics is such a great tool — athletics as a whole but especially college athletics — to just educate our young people and get them into positions, whether it be professionally, personally, spiritually, to be successful after the last time that they take off their jersey or they play their last snap or whatever it may be,” he said.
For Kosena, that was 2017 when he completed his playing career at Carroll College. In high school, Kosena was part of Loyola teams that won Class B state football titles in 2012 and 2013.
But his resume pales in comparison to that of his wife, Cassidy (Hashley) Kosena. Cassidy Hashley, the daughter of Montana State Hall of Famer and current University of Providence athletic director Doug Hashley, was an All-American for the Carroll College women’s basketball team, scored 1,197 career points and grabbed 775 career rebounds.
“We started dating the spring of our sophomore year. I think we both knew pretty immediately that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together and dated for about a year and a half,” Patrick Kosena said, first chronicling in great detail how the couple met the summer after they graduated high school while both were on the Rocky Mountain College campus in Billings to participate in high school all-star games — Cassidy in the Montana-Wyoming all-star basketball series and Patrick in the Class B all-star football game.
“And then going into our senior year (at Carroll), within about 72 hours of asking her dad’s blessings to propose to her, we find out that we are expecting with our first son,” Patrick said.
Brett Kosena was born in 2018 and his parents got married later that year. After taking a medical redshirt in 2017-18, Cassidy returned to play her senior basketball season in 2018-19, but an injury cut her season short and end the athletic careers for the newlyweds. The family moved to Lincoln, Neb., in 2019 and has since started to put down roots. Cassidy also works at the University of Nebraska in the office of sponsored programs.
“She is the rock and she is the glue to our family,” Patrick said of his wife. “She’s a full-time mom, she’s a full-time wife, and just the best support system that I could ask for. I think the job that I was able to get offered to me after (graduating from) Nebraska by Bill Moos directly is a direct correlation to what I was able to put into the office every single day and the hours I was able to put in and the availability I was able to give to University of Nebraska athletics. None of that happens without Cassie, and none of that happens without her unselfishness and her giving me the ability and the opportunities to really dive into Nebraska athletics as fully as I did.”
To make life even better for the young couple, their second son, Tyler, was born last month, and they recently purchased their first house just a stone’s throw from the campus on which both are building their professional careers.
“To be sitting where we are today with the blessings we have, we are so, so fortunate and just very, very thankful,” Patrick said.
Not bad for a player who was just a guy on the Carroll College football team.