Skins special teams coach draws on military experience

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- If you pay attention to sports even a little bit, you know there are always comparisons between games and war. Those comparisons aren't always true. Someone who knows that first hand is the Redskins special team coach. Ben Kotwica is an Iraq war vet leading Redskins troops on the field.

Players have been flying around the field during training camp with helmets following suit in flight. Special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica knows about flying…in the dark with the enemy on attack.

"Flying a helicopter is like taking a Porsche and driving it about 200 miles an hour 50 feet off the deck at night except there's people like, shooting at you so especially when we were in Iraq that was a two-way range," said Kotwica.

Kotwica was a combat attack helicopter commander, flying Apache choppers in 1000 combat missions in Iraq. He also had tours in Korea and Bosnia-Herzegovenia. The West Pointe grad spent 8 years "in" the Army in military intelligence, security operations and VIP escorts. He was also a linebacker "at" Army for the Black Knights. So he knows the comparisons between war and football are sometimes overstated. But he says he does draw from his armed forces background with his special teams forces.

He told us, "I think that one of the things the military helps you with is organizing and having a plan and understanding how to use your resources and that's one of the things you do as a special teams coach cause you only have a finite number of players at specific positions that you can utilize on game day."

Redskins head coach Jay Gruden says Kotwica is just the guy to motivate the special teams unit. "He's a go-getter, no question about it. He's very organized, and he is to the point, doesn't beat around the bush. I think players respect him a lot in that regard," said Gruden

Kotwica has to lead a special teams unit which, statistically, was one of the worst in the league last year. Players, like tight end Logan Paulsen, know he's just the guy.

"He's got a great sense of responsibility and he demands that responsibility from his players. He's kind of a no nonsense guy and that kind of attitude is good for a special teams units," shared Paulsen.

Because Ben Kotwica's been in an actual war, he doesn't like to use words like "battle" and "war" to describe a game, but Coach Gruden says he's just the guy to rally the troops and coach them in the fundamentals.

The special teams coach was awarded the Army achievement medal, Army commendation medal, meritorious service medal and the Bronze star.


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