Long-Time Official Tim Kotyra Shares His Thoughts on Retirement

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Editor’s note: Long-time ECAC official Tim Kotyra decided to retire from officiating at the conclusion of the 2012-13 season. Kotyra finished his NCAA championship career in the national championship game in Tampa in 2012 and also refereed the 2004 title game in Boston (see picture below). The NCAA asked Tim to share his thoughts with other officials on retirement and reflect on his career.

For all these years I have not been able to imagine and frankly, dreaded the moment that has now come and gone.  I never pictured a time that I would not be packing my referee’s bag for the weekend travels.  But now, after 24 years in college hockey, that weekend has come and gone; and the time was right. 

I began to think about retiring several years ago.  Subtle signs were apparent.  The old knees were letting me know that this was not getting any easier.   I also began to look at the trip as a chore, where I used to start getting fired up on Wednesday thinking about the weekend ahead. The passion was starting to fade.   My family also needed me more.  The phone calls that would come at 4:45PM from one of my girls needing me dampened my pre-game spirits.   After all these years of putting hockey first, I felt the pull stronger to be home.  I knew I didn’t want to miss any more of my girl’s activities and my wife did not want to attend any more events alone. 

I initially thought I would retire after the 2012 Frozen Four.  However, as July approached with training camp dates set, I knew I was not quite ready.  I decided to have this season be my last one and was able to work out a schedule that allowed me to skate in each rink a final time.  With each passing weekend, I worked hard and enjoyed each game.  I took advantage of the down time to visit each campus again.  But it remained evident that it was time for me to step aside.  I made the decision to have the final weekend of regular season be the last game.  It was time to pass the torch for playoffs and all that that entails to someone else.  


As I reflect upon my time in college hockey, I am filled with mixed emotions.  First and foremost is the pride that I feel in having accomplished success in so many different venues.  I truly owe this achievement to the many mentors and brother officials that have worked with me along the way.  They have pushed me to never stop working on my game and to always strive for improvement.  The have shown me the importance of year round preparation.  Knowing the rule book, conditioning and the willingness to receive honest feedback have been some of the keys to success.   Next, I struggle with the sense of loss I feel over not having the time to spend with true, lifelong friends that have been made along the way.  In many respects, my “family” has been my fellow officials.  We have seen each other grow up and watched as marriages came and families grew.  My kids love to joke about how none of my friends seem to have real names.  They only know “Bakes”, “Cookie”, “Brownie”, “Cuz”, “Murph”, “Frenchie”, “Uncle Scotty”, “Cro” and their personal favorite: “Mr. SugarMama”.

I am certain my involvement in hockey is not over.  It is just time for a new chapter to be written.  As I think about young officials just starting out, I would like to offer several thoughts.  First, always be professional.  For these two hours, this is your job.  Remember, you never know who is in the building watching your performance.  Treat every game, regardless of whether it is youth hockey or the Division I Frozen Four Final, as if it is your big shot.  It is okay to work as a linesman in order to learn the game and to perfect your rules knowledge.  Finally, make positive use of constructive criticism.  Take the words of the Observer and try to incorporate those suggestions in your next game.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions to seasoned officials.  It takes time to develop as an official.  Be patient. 

In closing, I wish I could thank every person that has impacted my career.  I could never name all the names, but I hope that I have let you know along the way how very much I have appreciated all you have done and the time we have spent together.

[Source: https://ncaaicehockey.arbitersports.com/front/106896/Site/Default/Long-Time-Official-Tim-Kotyra-Shares-His-Thoughts-on-Retirement]