It took a little time to get to know Larry Kramer, but when you succeeded you had a true friend. Larry was a no nonsense person and coach. He passed away last Saturday. He was 71.
Coach or Coach K as he liked to be called took over a downtrodden Emporia State football program in 1983. It had won 18 games in the previous 9 years.
Kramer’s teams won 2, then 3 games before winning 6 games in 1985. That was followed with 8, 7, & 8 wins before winning 11 in 1989 losing to Carson Newman in the NAIA National Championship game.
Here’s my story about getting in the Coach’s doghouse.
The story comes from the awesome 1989 Championship season. Game six was played at Kearney State. ESU won easily giving them a 5 – 1 record, but the Hornets were called for like 5 personal foul penalties in the second half.
On a rambling Wednesday’s Words I mentioned that ESU had an excellent football team, but really needed to tighten up their discipline.
Coach Kramer heard about my remarks and responded with two pointed questions: What hell did Sauder know about football or discipline?
I tried to see Kramer, but he didn’t want to talk. Assistant Coach Mark Luedtke suggested I just let Coach cool off. Instead I offered Larry the opportunity to do a rebuttal on KVOE and he took my offer and rebutted for some 7 minutes!
It took a few years to mend that fence and rumor has it Coach K did
let his team know that type behavior would no longer be tolerated and the Hornets did end up playing for a National Championship!
Many years later Larry and I laughed about the incident.
In my job on the ESU Now and Forever campaign Shane and I have called on dozens of former Larry Kramer football players. I don’t have to fabricate to tell you that to a man they each and everyone tells us what a positive influence Coach Kramer had on their lives – to a man.
That’s a legacy we all would be proud to own.
Rest in peace Coach K, you were a warrior.
I’m Steve Sauder.
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