Ben Kotwica Is Washington’s Coach K

As a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, this sounds a little weird for me.

I’ll be working with Coach K in 2014.

Like Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, Redskins Special Teams Coordinator Ben Kotwica grew up in Chicago with a Polish surname. He told Larry Michael Wednesday on “Redskins Nation” he’s happy to shorten the name for people who find it tough to pronounce.

For the record, it’s COT-WEE-KUH.

“Some just stop at the K,” Kotwica said. “Krzyzewski got too difficult, so they just stopped at the K, so if I can kind of have that success that he’s had, we can stop at the K.”

Krzyzewski has won four national championships and more than 900 games at Duke.

Kotwica is tasked with fixing a Redskins special teams unit that was a constant headache in 2013.

On “Redskins Nation,” the coach told Michael why he’s excited about the job, relived his experiences  flying AH-64 Apache Longbow helicopters in the Army and analyzed his coaching style.

Once the cameras were off, Kotwica shared two anecdotes delving into his history with the Redskins.


A Redskins fan from a young age

Kotwica was a true Grabowski. The Chicago Bears were his no. 1 team. But he said he was also a Redskins fan from the time he was 5 or 6 years old because of one fateful tumble.

The story goes like this. Little Kotwica was horsing around and fell down the stairs. His father returned home from work to find his young son crying.

To ease the pain, Kotwica’s dad bought his son a gift, a plastic Redskins helmet to cover the bump on his head. Because Kotwica’s dad liked the color scheme, the first helmet the future Army linebacker would ever wear was painted with a Washington emblem.

Kotwica has been following the team ever since. He said this play in particular is stuck in his head.


A Doug Williams Story

In 1994 Kotwica was a starting linebacker at Army while Doug Williams coached running backs at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Kotwica said he was covering a kick in the annual showdown against Navy when he made a tackle on the sideline, rolled over and looked up to see an enormous man towering over him. At 6-foot-4, Williams was an imposing figure.

The linebacker ran back to his undersized teammates, who had to maintain weight and fitness standards at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and told them they would be fine as long as that humongous coach didn’t take the field.

Army beat Navy, 22-20, to break a three-game losing streak.

*Redskins Nation airs on Comcast Sports Net Monday-Friday at 5:30 p.m and 11:30 p.m. and Saturday 7:30 a.m.


ABOUT THE REDSKINS: Headquartered at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Virginia, and owned by Daniel Snyder, the historic Washington Redskins Football Club has won five World Championship titles including the 1937 and 1942 National Football League Championship games, as well as Super Bowls XVII, XXII and XXVI. Founded in 1932 as the Boston Braves in Massachusetts, the team changed its name to the Redskins in 1933 and relocated to Washington, D.C., in 1937. Since then, the team has become one of the most recognizable professional sports franchises in history, featuring multiple Hall of Fame coaches, 19 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (with seven others who also were Redskins) and becoming the first team in the NFL with an official marching band and fight song, "Hail to the Redskins." The Redskins have been owned by Dan Snydersince 1999, and beginning in 1997, began playing their home games at FedExField in Landover, Md.