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Thanks for the memories!

January 7, 2019

By Jane Steger, First Aider Staff

In recognition of Cramer’s 100th year, we asked a few notable individuals to share their Cramer stories. Thank you Doc, Randy, Dean and Purdy

John H. Anderson, MEd, ATC: Cramer was always there when you needed products or just answers. After I retired from LSU, I worked an all-star game—the best football players against the best football players of Mississippi. So I went to Cramer and asked if they could help us with supplies. No problem they said and a box was delivered. As far as I’m concerned, it’s sacrilege not to buy from Cramer. I’m grateful to Frank Freeman, the Cramer rep and George Haney for their support. I still have a 1952 USA Trainer Cramer Kit that was given out at the Helsinki Olympics, Cramer First Aiders and product material from the 30’s and ‘40’s. Great information that I still reference today.Cramer brought us to the dance.

Randy L. Biggerstaff, MS, LAT, ATC: When I was a freshman in high school, I wanted to be a football player. However, when I put the helmet on I looked more like a snowman than a football player. During my sophomore year, a friend asked if would like to be a manager for the football team. I said yes and my journey began. It felt good to help people and even in that year I helped the physician covering the game take care of the injuries (the physician was an ob/Gyn and said I knew more than he did about sports injuries). That summer I took a course called the Cramer Student Trainer Course by mail and the journey truly began. However, my first introduction to an athletic trainer was at an all-star game and this individual didn’t care about the athletes. He just wanted to get things done and get on with his day. It was a very disappointing first impression of the profession. However, a month later I took an athlete to see Jack Rockwell, who at the time was the Head Athletic Trainer for the St. Louis Football Cardinals (now the Arizona Cardinals). Jack treated this high school athlete as if he was his son. He showed me what it meant to be a true athletic trainer. I was so moved by this experience that I knew I wanted to be an athletic trainer just like him. Jack later became my mentor and greatest supporter in the field of athletic training. Jack and I were both inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame together. That was truly a humbling experience for me. Thank you, Cramer for making all that possible.

Student Trainer Dean Kleinschmidt featured in a 1962 issue of The First Aider

Dean Kleinschmidt, ATC, LAT: The football coach came to me in 7th grade study hall and suggested I take Cramer’s summer student athletic trainer correspondence course.Up to that point, I was helping out in the locker room. Due to asthma, I couldn’t participate in football or basketball, but I loved sports. You sent in an application and Cramer sent you a work book, a 3-ring binder with six weeks of lessons and a text book called the Cramer Student Trainer Manual, which I still have today and hold on to it with great endearment. It was a free program; however you had to take it upon yourself to complete the assignments. The test would come on the field, if you knew what to do. If you were faced with a dislocated finger or ankle sprain or muscle strain, that was the test and I got hooked.

I then told my Dad that I had to attend the upcoming NATA Convention. So we took the family vacation and drove to Albuquerque, NM where I was one of two high school students that attended. Jim Cook, a principle at the Cramer Company and related to the founding brothers (brother-in-law), recognized that all the sessions and lectures were way over our heads. So he took me and the other student aside and had us practice taping and wrapping to Jim Cook’s exact specifications. That was really, really great.

I am deeply grateful to Cramer for providing the ignition to my 50+ year career in athletic training. Cramer was always there for so many of us in the 50’s and 60’s. It’s hard to imagine where NATA would be today without Cramer’s guidance and support in our infancy.

John Purdy, MS, ATC, CSCS-CPT: After my military career, I took a high school teaching job in Baton Rouge where I taught ROTC, drove the school bus, and coached boys JV baseball and girls’ cross country. Three months after I started, the school’s athletic trainer quit. The principal asked me if I wanted to be the trainer and make $500 more a year, which sounded good, but in AT hours, that meant I’d make one cent more an hour. Crazy! When I asked what a trainer does, he said you take care of the kids and we’ll send you to a class, so they did. I went to Southern Mississippi for a 3-day Cramer High School trainer course. I was already 40 years old and all these kids were 12 and 13. It turned out to be the foundation for my long-time rewarding career.

At the end of the day, we must not let the many commercial additives to the concept of today's sports medicine overshadow the radicle root of the sports medicine tree and be forgotten. Cramer was the seed that became the deep-seeking root from which each of the four of us and athletes of every sport have benefited. The Cramer concept of caring for athletes is truly the bedrock of sports medicine today. Athletic trainers researching this field 100 years from now must always be able to come back to the Cramer foundation as the beginning of this wonderful field of service.


John “Doc” Anderson has enjoyed a career spanning nearly five decades. Except for a 10-year stint at Louisiana State University, he has held various roles at Troy University since 1967, including head athletic trainer, professor and program director and serves as a professor emeritus lecturer.

Randy Biggerstaff, MS, ATC, LAT, joined Lindenwood University, St. Charles MO in 1997 to develop the Athletic Training Education Program, which was accredited in 2003. Biggerstaff currently serves as the athletic trainer for the Men’s Soccer and Baseball teams.

Dean Kleinschmidt has acquired over four decades of experience in the athletic medicine field, most of which occurred on the NFL level. Since 1971, Kleinschmidt has coordinated all sports medicine efforts at the Senior Bowl All-Star Game in Mobile, AL.

John Purdy’s 40+ year athletic training career started in 1975 at Robert E. Lee High School in Baton Rouge, LA. Between 1978 thru 1998, he held AT positions at Louisiana State University, and from 1999 thru 2018, he rehabilitated patients and athletes at Vanderbilt Sports Medicine.

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