He is 60 years old and still doing bicycle kicks. Kip Kotzan has many titles on his resume, from soccer coach to science teacher, and one trait that stands out in all he does is his tremendous personality that has been shaped by his adventure-filled life.
Among many of Mr. Kotzan’s exciting life journeys, Jordan in the Middle East working as an oceanographer, a three month bike trip through South America with his brother, and joining the Peace Corps to teach Chemistry in Jamaica are some of the most memorable. One of the students Mr. Kotzan taught was the first to ever pass Chemistry in the history of that school.
“It was just a super fun experience, really crazy, and I love to be crazy,” said Mr. Kotzan.
He then left the corps and became a chemist, working for KSB Instruments, a company based in Finland. With this job came seven years of many road miles, prompting him to settle down with his family and finally become a teacher in East Lyme. With all these experiences, Mr. Kotzan has become something of a legend to his students and players now at East Lyme High School.
“He’s a character. He puts school in a different perspective that makes learning fun and easier to understand,” said sophomore Jasmine Dumond.
From his wacky personality to his unique teaching tactics, attending his class is a must.
“I like to have vivid interactions in my classroom. I don’t like for it to be quiet. It has to be noisy and active,” Mr. Kotzan said.
His approach as the boys JV soccer coach is just as exciting.
“His crazy personality has just let me relax and understand how fun soccer really is,” said sophomore soccer player Ethan Moore.
In the last five years, Coach Kotzan has only lost one game as JV head coach. His secret for success: confidence. Practices are light and fun, and compliments flood across the field with every good effort. Going as far as to refer to players as a “god” or “force of nature,” Mr. Kotzan instills and inspires confidence in everyone around him. Some players have such a great experience that they are left wanting to remain on JV instead of moving up to varsity as they get older.
“Before tryouts I decided I would be happy to have two years with him because he made it so fun sophomore year,” said junior soccer player Ben Thomson.
From sharing stories of the past to goofy remarks and acts including diving headers and bicycle kicks, Kotzan’s practices, classroom, and life are filled with constant enthusiasm.