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Klingbeil typifies CC?spirit/Paul Peterson

May 4, 2012
By Paul Peterson - For the Gazette , The Daily Mining Gazette

It came as no surprise to me to read that Chuck Klingbeil has taken an active role in helping Michigan Tech graduate Todd Storm prepare for a mini-camp tryout with the Detroit Lions.

Storm, who received a free agent offer from Detroit, has been working out with Klingbeil in the off-season. And he's had the opportunity to learn from someone who had to work very hard himself to get a shot in the pro ranks.

I've followed Chuck Klingbeil's athletic career since he was a 6-foot-1, 195-pound junior fullback-linebacker at Houghton High in 1980.

Chuck, who was also a pretty fair hockey player for the Gremlins, attended Northern Michigan University and played football there, learning under the legendary Buck Nystrom.

When there were no offers from the National Football League after his graduation from Northern, Klingbeil packed up his car and traveled north of the border to play in the Canadian Football League.

Teaming up with former NMU teammate Bob Jurasin in Saskatchewan, he was a member of a Grey Cup winning team. In fact, he was named the Defensive MVP in the game.

That showing with the Roughriders led to a contract offer from the Miami Dolphins. Klingbeil parlayed the opportunity into a nice 8-year career in south Florida.

He became a starter at nose tackle for the Dolphins and scored the game-winning touchdown in coach Don Shula's NFL 300th career win, against the Green Bay Packers.

So, the former Houghton High standout knows what it takes to win a job in the highly competitive league.

Now, he's working hard to see that Storm goes into the situation with his eyes wide open.

History shows us that only a handful of Tech players have ever been to a NFL training camp. Only three, Jim VanWagner, Joe Berger and Dave Walter, have managed to make it all the way to the roster.

VanWagner played a couple of seasons with San Francisco and New Orleans, while Berger has put in a few seasons with Miami and Minnesota.

Walter's short career with Cincinnati consisted of a couple of games in the so-called strike season when owners fielded alternate squads.

Being a mentor is something that it is very typical of the small-town spirit that exists up here.

The late Tony Bukovich and John Sherf both had short careers with the Detroit Red Wings. But both were free to offer counseling to local kids trying to make it to the big time.

Houghton's Jeff Finger received advice from Bukovich before he signed a contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs a couple of years ago.

And Bernie Ruelle of Hancock was advised by Sherf on how to get into the NHL back in the 1940s. He had a short term with the Red Wings.

Both Storm and teammate Drew Vanderlin (who was signed by the Green Bay Packers this week) realistically are long shots to make the rosters of their prospective teams.

But both were fortunate to receive sound advice from people in their local areas on the best way to succeed.

In the case of Klingbeil, he's following up on a long-held Copper Country tradition of helping out local talent.



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