Where are They Now: Jim Klapthor

Recently we sat down with on of the greatest punters in Broncos history. Jim Klapthor donned the brown and gold uniforms on Saturday afternoons in the fall from 1983 to 1986. Klapthor talks about his time during and after his experience at WMU as well as playing for former coach Jack Harbaugh. He also tells us what he would say to someone looking at WMU as their school of choice. He also talks about working with Adam Anderson.

He talks about why he chose to go to school and the field of study he chose to pursue at Western Michigan University.

"I played football for Western from 1983 through 1986, I graduated in the spring of 87 and I got my degree in Communication, Arts and Sciences with majoring in communications and a minor in journalism. I chose Western for a number of factors. Some of them inherent or really non-decipherable, like some people just grow up a fan of a certain school so they hold it near and dear and some of that played a factor. But a legitimate factor was academically I knew I would be able to get into broadcasting and work on the equipment and be in classes in which I could work on my talent early in my academic career which is a rarity in college. Then, athletically I knew I had a legitimate shot as playing as a freshman. I just knew I had a legitimate shot at playing."

He talks about where he came from before choosing to go to school at Western and whether or not he knew about Western before he decided to attend Western.

"I grew up a great fan of athletics; professional and collegiate and so I would watch just about everything that I possibly could. Growing up in west Michigan Channel 3 (WWMT-TV) out of Kalamazoo at that time would have the Western Michigan highlights and so I certainly knew who Jerome Persell was. One of my sisters attended Western for a year and so I had visited her and I saw the Broncos play basketball in the mid-70's when they were a power. So Western was certain on my radar, if you will, when I was a youth and so you can say that I was as much of a fan of Western Michigan University as anybody could be in the late 70's early 80's who lived a hundred miles away. I mean that because back then there wasn't nearly the communications and the mass media coverage of Western Michigan University like there is now. But similarly there was certainly a saturation of the other teams which today we hear plenty about as well and so those teams I was certainly familiar with to."

He talks about where he is currently at in life and how he got to where he is.

"Well, I'm currently a Media Relations Manager for a scientific society. It's called Institute of Food Technologists. We're based in the loop in Chicago. We're an international organization of nearly 30,000 members. As the name suggests we are scientists and technologists in the discipline of food, food science, food research. I got into media relations after a twelve year career in news and sports broadcasting and moved to Chicago after working for Albion College in media relations as Director of Media Relations here in Michigan. That was immediately after working for Fox Television in Detroit which came after working for CBS Television in northern California which came after working for multiple radio stations in San Diego. My career started in Grand Haven, Michigan my hometown where after my graduated Western Michigan I was hired as News Director for a radio station and started my sports broadcast career at the same time. So I just went from sports broadcasting into media relations just because I moved back into the Midwest and that's what I did."

He comments about being able to use the education he received at Western Michigan in his everyday life.

"I think that the Western Michigan University education both in the classroom and outside the classroom, the education that I received on the football field and on the practice field, in the residence halls and in the "Student Ghetto" as a resident there that certainly helps everyday. It helps in my professional career. It helps in my personal life. All the people in which I came into contact with and who had influences on me during my four years at Western Michigan have all had a positive influence."

He talks about what it was like playing for former Bronco head coach Jack Harbaugh.

"Jack demanded the best out of everybody and he demanded the most out of everyone. I can't compare it to anyone else because Coach Harbaugh was the only head coach that I ever played for at the collegiate level. I don't think that there is another coach in America that wants to win more than Coach Harbaugh wanted to win at Western Michigan University or anywhere else that probably he ever coached. I remember dearly many of the assistant coaches that I played for under Coach Harbaugh. Coach Hankowitz had a major influence in my development even though unfortunately Mike or Coach Hank wasn't around to see my best years. Brady Hoke at Ball State University I have a tremendous amount of respect for. Dan Ferrigno now at University of Oregon had a major influence on me. Steve Szabo who coached at the Jacksonville Jaguars and was defensive coordinator at Boston College probably demanded more out of me than any coach that I ever had because Coach Szabo could recognize in me when I was doing well that I could do better. I respected him for that. There are certainly other members of the staff over the four years that I was there that had as much positive influence on my development as a player and a person as Coach Harbaugh."

He tells us what he would tell an individual that was considering attending Western Michigan University.

"I would certainly tell them my opinion in my inner feelings about Western Michigan University now, Bronco football now. I think from my aspect, from my perspective Western Michigan's coaching staff right now has as much if not more interest in the player as a person than at any time previous. Certainly at any time previous that I've been privy to. I think a student athlete and a parent that considers Western Michigan University hopefully understands that everyone in the Athletic Department, everyone one the coaching staff, the vast majority of their teammates and the vast majority of the faculty and their advisors that they're going to have during their time on campus truly are looking out for their best interests. Not that these people are looking to make it as easy as possible for them but that they're looking out for that student athlete and that athlete's parents best interests. They will be challenged. It won't be easy. It won't be easy in the class room, it won't be easy on the football field but it shouldn't be because when things are easy you don't learn. If things are easy you don't grow. If your not challenged you don't get better and Western Michigan University, in the degree programs that the students have to consider there's no gimmes and there's no one on that coaching staff that's going to allow a player to come in and say "you're good enough today." Or, "you're good enough for tomorrow." It's my perspective they are probably told by other coaching programs and probably told at other universities or will find at other universities that they might have it easier. But I don't think that they will be more successful."

He talks about being able to work with Bronco punters in the future, his thoughts on the team's kicking game and working with Adam Anderson.

"Whether I continue to work with the Broncos punters of course is up to Coach Darnell, Coach Rock and whomever the special teams coach will be next year. Because I would only assist in any way that they believe is necessary. That's how I had a brief opportunity to work with Adam last spring and last summer. Coach Darnell certainly has always recognized the ability that Adam has, the inherent and innate ability that Adam has to punt the football and because apparently Adam was having some struggles last spring. We thought it would be best I stopped by a practice and took a look and because I coached my own kicking camps for about ten years we were able to recognize some minor things which Adam had found himself in a groove, in really a rut if you will that we were able to remedy. Coach Darnell and his staff was able to keep Adam focused on some very minor adjustments that were necessary and Adam remains focused on some minor adjustments. When we saw each other again in the summer just by chance, our paths happened to cross, we had the opportunity to fine tune some of those aspects of his game. Adam just really embraced the idea of being able to break down the punt into some really basic components so that he and with the help of the coaching staff was always able to remain on track and we saw the results. Every Bronco fan saw the results of what Adam's capable of. If I can just say, next season is a whole other year for Adam. You asked me what my thoughts are on the punting game. The punting game this year was certainly a major...Our punting game was a weapon for Western Michigan this year. It wasn't just Adam. It was the coverage team. It was Charles Missant at long snapper. People don't recognize that Adam had good to great snaps every time or seemingly every time. But you know we would all know if he had to go chase one out of the endzone or he had to go chase one down because it was poor and so it will be important this year in 2004 to see who replaces Chuck Missant and how well he performs. But similarly any senior that was on that coverage team it will be important to see how they are replaced and it will be important to see how the returners in the punting game, and when I say returners the guys coming back, perform. Whether it be Chad Feldpausch or be a DeRae Allen or be it anyone else. Antonio Thomas was the personal protector this year. Well Antonio is gone. Whoever will play personal protector will be an important and critical cog in the punting game."

He talks about his record setting season at Western Michigan University.

"You mean the season when I had a 41.4 yard average?" You had over 3,000 yards in punts over 77 punts. "Yeah, that was my junior year. Well we struggled offensively but what I remember about that season is many things. I remember the Army game at Michie Stadium where I had a solid game a 46 something average I think and Army clobbered us unfortunately and it apparently seemed as though we matched up well. We played that whole game feeling as though we were as if not more talented than Army and this was at a time when Army was coached by Jim Young who was a previous coach at Purdue who took Purdue to bowl and who took Army to bowl games. Army went to a Bowl game that year. I remember fondly having a good game but it was just bittersweet because we really matched up well and we really thought we could have played and we didn't. Of course I remember playing against Michigan State and I had another good average and tried to help the Broncos win and we lost 7-3 and that is another bittersweet moment. It was a season like many players when they have good seasons you never really want it to end even though our record didn't reflect that. More than anything because it was my junior season when that season ended I suddenly knew what all the other upperclassmen talked about with regard to how quick your career goes. Because I knew, "my gosh I only have one year left. I just had a good year. I had a year that I was capable of and man I only have eleven more chances." So that's pretty humbling.

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