May 23, 2008
by Sean Neugent
IOWA CITY, Iowa —Football linebacker Mike Klinkenborg is the University of Iowa male representative for the Big Ten Medal of Honor, awarded annually to two graduates of each conference university who has demonstrated proficiency in academics and athletics. The Medal of Honor, first awarded in 1914, is the league’s oldest award.
Klinkenborg was one of five football seniors named to the leadership squad during the 2007 season. He joins Meghan Armstrong from the women’s cross country and track and field teams, who was named the female representative from the UI.
Klinkenborg and Armstrong join a Medal of Honor roll that includes Aaron Kampman, Nate Kaeding and Sean Considine, (all current players in the NFL), as well as former basketball stars Jennie Lillis and Greg Brunner. Last year, Adam Haluska (basketball) and Heather Schnepf (field hockey) won the award.
“It’s an honor,” Klinkenborg said. “The first time I ever saw the medal, everyone talked about it and showed a few pictures of the former players that received it like Sean Considine and Greg Brunner. To me, just being considered for it is an honor, but to be the winner out of all the male athletes at the University of Iowa is a real honor.”
Klinkenborg’s strong work ethic earned him many academic awards. He was named to the CoSIDA first team academic All-American team for two straight seasons. He was also a member of the CoSIDA District VII academic first team for the three consecutive seasons.
“When I was younger, a lot of times it was just having support from my family,” he said. “That was the most important thing for me — having my dad, my mom, brother and sister and everyone — just having them behind me growing up was a big inspiration. Coming to Iowa games also meant a lot.”
Klinkenborg is an in-state product from Rock Rapids where he attended Central Lyon High School. He totaled 129 total tackles as a junior for the Hawkeyes, which included 61 solo and 68 assists. Klinkenborg had a career-high with 16 tackles against Northwestern. Opposing offenses feared him and some of his best games came against rival Iowa State, giving him the nickname Cy-Borg. The 2006 totals put the linebacker on award watch lists for 2007 which included the preseason Bednarik Award Watch List and Lott Trophy Watch List.
In 2007, Klinkenborg’s numbers dropped a bit because of a concussion that forced him to miss three games. He still was the heart of the defense and put up 79 tackles during the year.
“If I am going to do anything, I give all the effort I can,” Klinkenborg said. “For me it’s striving for perfection.”
Klinkenborg is an elementary education major and is a member of the National Honor Society. He ranked first in his high school class academically with a 3.98 grade-point average (on a 4.0 scale). Although it will not start for awhile and is not part of his curriculum, Klinkenborg recently accepted a job at Pella Corporation as a department manager. His plans are to work there for awhile and earn an MBA either online or at a local college during his free time.
“Anytime you put that much work into something you want to see results and you want to see rewards,” Klinkenborg said. “That is the pleasure of going to work every day.”