Hot Seat | “I’m still a top athlete and a gym teacher at heart”

We sit down with Wim Koch (61) for this edition of Cursor’s Hot Seat. He is the director of the Student Sports Center but at heart, he is still a top volleyball player, gym teacher, and the man who rarely collects his diplomas personally. He grew up in the village of Reuver as the eldest of four children in a warm family with caring parents. He enjoys music immensely and believes that a ‘day without laughter’ equals ‘a day not lived.’

Wim has three grown-up children, two daughters and a son. Like everyone else who has come across him, they know that Wim is passionate about his work and that he wants to turn the student sports center into a central point on campus. He would gladly, very gladly answer questions pulled out of our hat. But first, Cursor needs to lure him away from the coffee break he tries to take with as many SSC staff members as possible each day in ‘his’ canteen. “You can gain some valuable information during these coffee breaks now and then, and that is how we maintain a strong tie between us.”

What makes you insecure?

“Well, I don’t get insecure easily. But I do have a problem with uncertainty. Let me give an example. When I started with the masterplan for the renovation of the SSC, there was uncertainty about the financing. We just couldn’t secure the funding. I like to sink my teeth into such a problem because I want to figure out another way to tackle it. I tried to find other ways and looked into the budget for parking facilities, for instance, and the possibility of financing the Masterplan SCC together with Fontys. I don’t like the feeling of uncertainty, and a conflict feels like a pit in my stomach. I prefer to solve it as quickly as I can. Just after I became director of the SCC in 2006, new legislation led to a professionalization of declarations. I listed all the things that could possibly go wrong and quickly made an action plan with accountants, after that I was able to move on. That probably has to do with my background as a top athlete; I want to move ahead.”

When did you remain silent when you should have spoken up?

“That never happens to me. Can I pick another question?”

What is your strongest childhood memory?

“I have a strong memory that keeps repeating itself. When I was 18 years old, I was unable to collect the diploma from my high school in Roermond. I had to go to a qualification tournament in Hungary with the Dutch youth volleyball team. I was very unhappy about that because the graduation ceremony felt like an important conclusion of a period in my life, but my mother and father accepted the diploma on my behalf. Some years later during the graduation ceremony at the Academy for Physical Education, I had to be in Finland for a European qualification. After I received my certificate, the team doctor quickly whisked me away to Helsinki. My parents and friends, even my girlfriend Elly, who is now my wife, remained at the party. In 1996, I was unable to attend the graduation ceremony for the highest possible training certificate in volleyball. I was on vacation with my family and I didn’t want to miss that. But in 2007, when I got to collect my master’s certificate for Management and Organization in Tilburg, I cleared my schedule. I didn’t want to miss another graduation ceremony!”

What is your favorite song and why?

“Oh, I’m an enthusiastic music lover and I have a broad range of interests. I love Vivaldi and Beethoven’s ninth symphony, but I love singer-songwriters who move me as well. The melody comes first and if the content of a song is beautiful also, then you have a hit as far as I’m concerned. I can enjoy listening to Adele. I also watched the songfestival and was fascinated by Duncan because of the intensity of his song. In November, Elly and I and another couple are going to see Waylon in concert. We also go to tribute bands of Fleetwood Mac and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. But the most beautiful and very important song, to me and to a lot of other people, is Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall. It’s still a very topical song as well. This timeless song also applies to the lonely international student here on campus.”

Who deserves a second chance according to you?

“Everyone deserves a second chance. That rarely happens in politics. Take state secretary for Justice and Security Mark Harbers, who was responsible for asylum. He immediately had to resign when data on crimes committed by asylum seekers became public. He was sacrificed. Perhaps it wasn’t his mistake, give him a chance to rectify it. I myself look at the qualities of my people. When something goes wrong, I want to analyze what happened, and then I ask the person in question to do it over, and better this time. Perhaps that has to do with my background as a teacher; I want to educate.”

What makes you laugh uncontrollably?

“Laurel and Hardy make me do that. I saw them again during the farewell ceremony for Jan Mengelers and it made me laugh so very hard! Sometimes, after a busy day, I look them up on YouTube. Just to get an endorphins boost. I need that sometimes.”

For our column The Hot Seat we ask students and employees to pull five cards from our top hat full of questions. One question may be exchanged. The next interview will appear in three weeks' time.

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