In Olympic and World gymnastic competition, it is not unusual to see a single-person team representing a country. In NCAA competition, it is very unusual to witness one man representing a major university team let alone watch the single competitor win again and again. Joe Kotys may have been sans teammates on the bench, but he was with the stars on the apparatus. Joe Koyts was an artistic performer “ . . . way ahead of his time.”
Olympic Games: London, England, (1948); Helsinki, Finland [A], (1952). After scoring among the top six at the 1956 Penn State U. Olympic Trials, Joe injured his back in an unusual accident. In Detroit, while practicing his handstand on the still rings, a major mount pulled out of the wall. Of course, Joe fell straight down to the horsehair mat. Even though he tried to become a team member in 1956, his injuries resulting from the fall prohibited him from contending. NCAA Championships: Competing for Kent State U. as a single person team, Kotys won Gold-AA, PB, Bronze-PH, (1949); Gold-AA, PB, HB, (1950); Gold-PH, Silver-AA, PB, (1951); AAU National Championships: Gold-V & PB, (1948); Silver-AA, (1950); Gold-PB, (1951). Northeast Ohio Championships: Jackpot + Bonus Gold-AA, PB, HB, R, PH, V, FX, & TU, (1948). He later coached in the Ohio High Schools. His teams won 13 State Championships. Early Experiences: Joe began his gymnastics career at the YMCA instructed by Frank Haley. Later, he competed for the Swiss Turners coached by Ed Markowski. Joe served in the Army Air force as a gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress. He completed 22 dangerous missions. He is a credit to our country on numerous levels.
Sources: U.S. 1956 Olympic Book, Quadrennial Report of the U.S. Olympic Committee. Competition results and coaching experiences courtesy of Jerry Wright, author of Gymnastics Who’s Who, 2005 and Jack Beckner, Kotys teammate in Helsinki, who also provided photos. Introduction, commentary, and formatting by Larry Banner, Web Manager.