Mark Kossick '97 – from creating highlights to filmmaking to NBA Entertainment

Eph Legends
Eph Legends

Mark Kossick scored a TD in his first game for the Ephs at Colby freshman year and he scored in his last game, a 19-13 win over previously undefeated Amherst, in a classic that featured a 98-yard drive in the final minutes to win. The Kossick highlight in Amherst was a second half fingertip grab of a TD pass that was seen by many and believed by few.

In between there were not many games that Kossick was kept out of the end zone, rushing for 32 TDs and catching 12 TD passes to become the Eph modern day scoring leader with 268 points. The total would have been over 300 if injuries did not prevent him from placekicking.

None of these 44 TDs feature in his favorite football moment at Williams. "My favorite football moment was scoring a 40-yard touchdown on my first ever college play in a scrimmage my freshman year," recalled Kossick.

"I remember it for two reasons: one, the coaches were talking about moving me to defense because I missed some of the preseason with an injury and I had one set of downs to stay on the offensive side of the ball. And two because my dad passed away six weeks before the season started and I wasn't sure I was even going to college."

It was Mark's dad, Robert M. Kossick, who strongly encouraged him to attend Williams.
"That touchdown meant the world to my mom, Sherry," noted Kossick. "She definitely cried." 

"Funny thing is that on that play, Mike Bajakian who played for my high school nemesis, Bergen Catholic, threw me a five-yard out," said Kossick. "I caught the pass, turned my head to look up field and there was one defender to beat. Out of nowhere (and this is no coincidence), a purple flash came sweeping through my field of vision (tight end Brian Rooney) and took that defender off his feet. I broke to the outside and it became a foot race to the pylon. I was never extremely fast, but I had a higher power with me, and I dove at the five with the ball in one hand, smacked the pylon. I looked up at the ref and saw his two arms go upright and I knew the coaches would have to keep me on the offensive side of the ball at least one more week."

  

Mark Kossick '97

"I'm not a religious man, but I had God with me that play." said Kossick. "I know it, and it still chills me to this day. Ever since that day, I told my dad I would get in the end zone every chance I got and I prayed every time I got there." Thereby explaining why Kossick would drop to his right knee, pause for a moment and look up to the heavens after every TD.

Kossick played for Hall of Fame Head Coach Dick Farley, long known for his biting "Farleyisms." As a four-year member of the team, Kossick heard a lot of Farleyisms over the years, but it was something else that the legendary coach said to him that meant a lot. "My favorite Farley moment was when he said to me that my dad would be proud of the way I play," stated Kossick. "That showed me he got it... the game of life."

The irony is if Mark Kossick had made a film of his Williams football career he would have had a classic on his hands.

"My interest in film can be traced to a semester abroad I did in Madrid, Spain," said Kossick.  "My Spanish 'brother,' Gonzalo, made horror films. He'd take me to the set, film a few script pages and let me sit in on the edit sessions in his bedroom. That sparked my interest in film."

"I learned the hard way that you can sell your little independent movie that you worked so hard on to a big outfit like Lion's Gate and still not make your money back," said Kossick. "That was the fate of a movie I produced called A Jersey Tale. It was a small, independent movie built on a story that revealed a page of world history that many people don't know about, the Armenian Genocide. You would think that given the current debate in Congress that we would have a blockbuster on our hands, but not so much. Lesson learned: never invest your own money in film!"

Kossick is now in his ninth year with NBA Entertainment and has been involved with producing games and features, including a long promotional tour of China with Yao Ming and the Boston Celtics vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves in London. Kossick was actually interviewed for this profile via email from Shanghai, where he was preparing to produce the preseason game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Orlando Magic.

"My patient wife, Leigh, always made me keep a real job while I pursued my passions," stated Kossick. "I remember as a child, the NBA successfully burned indelible images in my head: MJ and Mars Blackman, Bird and the Celtics, and the Lakers' Showtime and Paula Abdul. The NBA, and you could argue Phil Knight of Nike, created sports marketing and sports business. Both Nike and the NBA have been global leaders since and neither has looked back."

"At the NBA, I managed to take my passion for film and learn all the basic tools of writing, editing, and producing," Kossick said. "After grasping the fundamentals, I decided to learn the business of basketball, beginning with the entertainment side. My current group is called Live Programming and Entertainment and we produce all the NBA-sanctioned games such as the game I am working tomorrow in Shanghai, the Cavaliers versus the Magic. Even though we are not producing the original West Side Story, we take our shows pretty seriously."

He has been hired as a consultant to the Beijing Olympic Committee for three months beginning in May to set up their basketball venue for this summer's Olympic Games.

Traveling the world covering the NBA is not enough to keep the multi-talented Kossick busy so he started a lacrosse equipment company called Lax.com.

"I started the company in 1999 with some high school buddies," noted Kossick. "I've become increasingly interested in pursuing this opportunity full-time. It's a small business with lot of upside. I think a lot of the best practices that the NBA employs can easily translate to this emerging business/sport. Like most people, I'd like to one day run my own business. And if history tells you anything, I won't stray too far from the world of sports and entertainment."

Along the way Kossick even found time to earn an MBA in sports management & finance from Seton Hall University (2007).

Mark and Leigh reside in Ridgewood, N.J. with their son Robert ("Red") and daughter Carter, who might soon be making their own highlights.