Gary Cramer: BVA’s ‘first’ star athlete
A 1966 Belle Vernon Area High School graduate, Gary Cramer truly was the first star athlete at the new merged school.
A standout athlete at football, basketball, and baseball, Cramer earned 10 varsity letters, received more than 50 college football scholarship offers as well as a tryout with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
But despite being a skilled and hard-working individual, Cramer said he never looked at it being about him.
“It always felt like I was a part of something and that was a part of the way we grew up,” he said humbly. “I didn’t think that I was more gifted or a harder worker.
“I was just fortunate that I had others around me guiding the way.”
For his stellar athletic career, Cramer will be inducted into the Mid Mon Valley All Sports Hall of Fame Friday at the Willow Room in Rostraver Township.
Cramer cracked the starting lineup at tailback as a sophomore 1963 on the Bellmar High football team that went 10-0 under Coach Bap Manzini and also lettered at Bellmar as a junior before lettering as a senior at BVA.
As a senior, Cramer earned All-Conference, All-WPIAL and Honorable Mention All-State honors and led the Big 8 Conference in scoring.
During his three-year scholastic career, Cramer finished with 2,243 yards rushing and had 2,771 yards of total offense.
Because of these many accomplishments, Cramer was in the first class of inductees for the Belle Vernon Area Football Hall of Fame in 2000.
In basketball, Cramer played guard and forward led his team in free throw percentage and on the diamond, he hit .300 while playing third base and shortstop.
At first Cramer committed to play for Woody Hayes at Ohio State, but he accepted a scholarship offer from Pitt when they hired Dave Hart as coach.
A three-year letter winner, Cramer started two years at tailback.
The Minnesota Vikings invited Cramer to their training camp, but Cramer decided to finish his bachelor’s degree with a major in physical education and earned his Master’s in Education shortly after.
Cramer currently teaches in the Brentwood School District and is the golf coach and assistant track coach there.
He has also had coaching stints as the head football coach at Brentwood and as an assistant at Mt. Lebanon and BVA and a head coaching stint as the boys basketball coach at Brentwood.
Cramer shared his feelings on his induction.
“I am surprised and honored,” he said. “It is something that my dad would have wanted so it means that much more in that sense.”
Gary and his wife Sheryl have twin sons and nine grandchildren.
Bill Hughes is a freelance writer fpr Trrib Total Media.