For every amazing sports story, when you peel back the layers of hard work, celebration and accolades, at the core you'll find a reason for the success.
Tehachapi Volleyball had one of the greatest single seasons in school history this past fall, earning Tehachapi High's first undefeated varsity league championship in the Yosemite division and a berth in the CIF Division II section finals. The team had it all this year, amazing coaching, talented players and a drive to achieve.
And through it all, there was a man who gave the team the motivation they needed to believe -- Assistant Coach Moe Cramer, a physical therapy assistant.
"His knowledge and expertise gave the girls confidence in their physical abilities beyond what a regular coach would have been able to offer," said THS Volleyball Coach Sheri Dees. "We have been extremely fortunate to have Moe this year; he has made it feel more like college program, rather than a high school one."
For Mountain Volleyball, it was about the prevention of injuries and finding ways to make the team better. Cramer's volunteer efforts started last spring when he developed a conditioning-injury prevention plan, plyometrics (jump training) and agility program and made himself available in the school gym and his office on countless occasions to work with the girls.
"Along with helping kids through injuries and prevention of injuries, I have always been drawn to the kids that didn't think they were good enough," said Cramer. "I wanted to make them better athletes. When they believe they are better, it makes the team better."
Suffice it to say, Mountain Volleyball would not have achieved the success that they did this past fall without Cramer's contribution. With his help in the gym, weight room, and during games as a trainer, it allowed the rest of the coaching staff to better focus their time on other competitive and technical aspects of the game.
Cramer, who is a licensed Physical Therapy Assistant at Stone Mountain Physical Therapy, ventured into his career while serving as a corpsman in the Navy, learning the necessary management and medical skills he utilizes today.
"There was a point in my life where I was going to pursue a physical therapy degree at Northridge, but then we gave birth to our first child," Cramer said. "After our oldest son entered kindergarten, I was going to go back to school, but then the other four kids came along. We're still raising them and having a good time."
Cramer and his wife, Silke, are the proud parents of five children -- John (a student at Michigan University), Danielle (a student at Fullerton College), Elayna (a junior at THS), Jenna (seventh grader at Jacobsen Middle School) and Luke (fourth grader at Cummings Valley Elementary School). The Cramer family first came to Tehachapi in 2004, with the community serving as the answer for the small hometown lifestyle they yearned for.
"Our family really fell in love with small town living. We wanted to find a place with a good climate and, of course, had an open position for work," said Cramer. "My parents actually stumbled upon Tehachapi and told us about it. I looked it up on the Internet and it was dubbed as the land of four seasons. That sounded perfect to us, so eventually my whole family, including my parents, moved here."
Cramer first worked at Tehachapi Hospital and Woodward West as a PT assistant before moving on full time with Stone Mountain Physical Therapy, where he has been the past five years.
Cramer has been involved with physical therapy for over 25 years, working with the elderly, special needs adult and children and serving as a coach in various capacities. .
"My education, in conjunction with my regular research, keeps me up to date with the latest technology and information available. In this field, you are constantly learning," Cramer said. "I've had a chance to meet so many great kids and great families over the years that are passionate about sports and this town. I just want to be the best I can be and pour my heart into helping everyone that crosses my path."
One such athlete is Kyle Holifield, who was a young man that Cramer coached in youth football and recently recover from an injured shoulder prior to entering the Air Force. As a thank you to Cramer for helping him in his shoulder recovery, Holifield gave Cramer a plaque to adorn on his wall in his office at Stone Mountain Physical Therapy.
The plaque is a picture of Holifield as a youth in a TYF Tomahawk uniform next to a recent picture of him standing next to a fighter jet. On the plaque, Holifield wrote, "Moe, you're not only a great coach, you're a great life coach."
Holifield is just one of many athletes that Cramer has helped. Some other injury healing and prevention success stories include 2012 All-Area Basketball Player of the year Cory Lange and first team all-league players Adam Mullen, Andrew Jimenez, Dalton Scaggs, Austin Herman, Dani Peacon, Maddie Orellana, among others.
Cramer also helps the special needs children at Tehachapi Unified School District through specialized programs at the Stone Mountain facility.
"There are kids that want to dunk a basketball or ran a fast 40 time, but there is also helping with basic physical needs," Cramer said. "Watching a kid that has difficulty walking and helping them with that, helping them jump, whatever it may be, that's rewarding to me. Helping people is all I live to do."
As a volunteer at THS, the injury prevention program spearheaded by Cramer continues to gain momentum, with notable improvement in this past season's volleyball team with agility, core training, footwork, stamina and skills. Even more important, the volleyball girls went through the entire season injury free.
Cramer hopes to continue his program as an assistant on Chris Olofson's varsity basketball team this winter.
"Not only is he a vital part of our THS Volleyball Program, but he is also a significant part of the Tehachapi athletic community," added Dees. "He gives his time selflessly so these athletes can get better training and reach their physical potential."