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Cole Klubek Story: A 29-year-old Air Force vet kicking at an HBCU school

Lincoln (PA) kicker Cole Klubek hitting an extra point!

Hamburg, New York is a small town on the outskirts of Buffalo, New York.  There are not many famous people from the little town, but NFL punter Jacob Schum the former University of Buffalo specialist made it to the league and played for several teams.  Well, there is another specialist hoping to earn his way on to a roster.  His name is Cole Klubek.

Cole Klubek is 29 years old, he also plays for an HBCU school at Lincoln (PA) University.  His path will not be the same as Jacob Schum though.  Klubek’s story is like no other.

It all started at Hamburg High School.  Klubek did not play four years of football, he played football only in the 9th grade.  He was a soccer player from 5th grade to 11th grade and played hockey on and off as well.  

Klubek graduated and was not sure about his path.  Both his parents spent 20 plus years in the Air Force so he followed suit.  Klubek would join the military in January 2008.  

While in Shreveport, Louisiana, Klubek would work the night shifts and during the day’s coach U-12 and U-14 in-line hockey.  He always had a passion for sports.  

In Louisiana, Cole was just looking for a place to play pickup hockey and found a great group of people. He met a good friend Joe Spaw, who told Cole to come coach with him. That was a start to something big!

While Cole worked extremely hard at coaching the youth he would eventually have to leave Louisiana.  

On October 13th, 2010, Klubek would get orders to deploy to Iraq.  His first day in Iraq was his 21st birthday.  The future specialist at Lincoln (PA) University would first have to defend our country before earning an opportunity to play college football. 

Cole sitting in Saddam Hussein’s throne

On April 23, 2011, Cole would return home from Iraq. He landed in Louisiana for one more month before getting new orders.  He could not return to coaching the young hockey players because he would be heading to Columbus, Mississippi.  

Because he wanted to be involved in sports while serving he continued to work the late night shifts and get involved in sports during the day.  This next achievement was a wild one.  In August of 2012, Klubek became involved with the Mississippi State hockey program.  You are probably asking yourself, How did that happen? 

Well, a friend of Cole’s played for the team. He asked Cole, why don’t you come and be our GM? The team was about ready to fold, but Klubek couldn’t let that happen, his team played with 9 skaters that first year. He would work hard year two to recruit a few more players and they actually had competitive games.

Cole (wearing his Bills hat) and his son Lucas

That was not the only cool thing to happen.  Cole would become a father in 2012.  In January of 2012, he had a son and named in Lucas.  Lucas lives with his Mom and step-dad in New York.  

Cole would also find love in 2012, meeting Brandi.  After a year and a half of dating, Cole asked her the question and they have been happily married since!

Cole, Brandi and Lucas

Cole stayed at Mississippi State until December of 2013, and he would have stayed forever as he loved what he was doing, but the young soldier could not pass up a trip to Germany.  He received new orders to leave for Kapaun AB in Germany. You had to know Cole was involved in sports there too right?

Klubek was very involved in Germany too! Because of the amazing work at Mississippi State, Cole’s credentials would open another door in Germany. Cole landed a head coaching job for a professional women’s hockey team.  

Cole loves sports! As an avid football fan, Cole and his comrades would watch football in Germany.  His dream of becoming a kicker began in Germany!

Pittsburgh Steelers traded for place kicker Josh Scobee and it was Scobee that fired up Cole to become a specialist.  Scobee made his debut in the Steelers’ Week 1 on September 11th, 2015 against the New England Patriots and he missed his first two field goal attempts (44 and 46 yards), before scoring an extra point and two field goals (including a 44-yard attempt) in the Steelers’ 28–21 loss. Klubek and his fellow soldiers watched the game on AFN, American Forces Network. That night, Cole went out to the field at 3 AM and started this kicking journey.

He would stay in Germany for the next three years and leave in 2016, returning to the states.

Klubek showing off his Buffalo Sabres flag!

For the next 13 months, Klubek would spend time at Whiteman Air Force Base In Knob Noster, Missouri.  These would be his final months in the Military.  Cole worked day in and day out at kicking.  He wanted a chance to play after his days of the military.

Cole wanted to play football, so he used recruiting websites and would eventually meet Coach London of Lincoln (PA). Coach London looked at Cole’s kicking videos and invited Cole to their game against Lincoln (MO), where Cole was stationed.  Cole met Coach London and found out he too was a former Air Force veteran.  He knew Lincoln (PA) would be his future college!

On January 10th, 2018, Staff Sergeant Cole Klubek walked away from the military after serving 10 years.  He gave up his military uniform for another uniform.  

Cole’s first day as a civilian was his first day of class at Lincoln (PA).  

Cole would continue to work on his punting and kicking skills.  Cole watched tons of videos of kickers on YouTube while deployed and now he was able to put it all to action.

Cole showing off that punting leg

In his first year, Cole was not the best punter in the world but he was 11/12 in extra points, the one miss was blocked. Both of his field goal attempts were blocked also, but this year is different.  The 5’11, 215 pound Air Force vet is hoping to show he belongs.  

Cole Klubek may never get a shot from an NFL team, but there is one thing you cannot take away from him, he pursued his dream regardless of his age, and his circumstances.  His ability to persevere and overcome adversities is inspiring to not only myself, but his child Lucas, his fellow soldiers, and his teammates at Lincoln (PA).  

Cole enters his final season this year for the Lincoln (PA) Lions and I know one person who will be pulling for him.  Hearing his story, inspired me to chase my dreams, never give up and work hard to be great. I am expecting a huge year from Cole in 2019, and if this story of never quitting does not inspire you, I do not know what will. 

God Bless You Cole and God Bless the U.S.A.

NFL Draft Diamonds was created to assist the underdogs playing the sport. We call them diamonds in the rough. My name is Damond Talbot, I have worked extremely hard to help hundreds of small school players over the past several years, and will continue my mission. We have several contributors on this site, and if they contribute their name and contact will be in the piece above. You can email me at [email protected]

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