Rick Kramer watches the Poland Regional High School indoor track and field team warm up during practice in December 2017. Kramer has been hired as the Edward Little’s football coach. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal file photo

Rick Kramer never forgot the year he spent as an assistant coach for the Edward Little football team and he cherished the camaraderie that developed between him and the players on the 2016 team.

He is back in the fold, having announced as the Red Eddies’ new head coach on Wednesday. The Illinois native — he grew up outside the Chicago area before family brought him to Maine — replaces Dave Sterling, who coached Edward Little for the past 12 years.

Rick Kramer is the new football coach at Edward Little High School. Submitted photo

Kramer coached the Red Eddies’ defense under Sterling’s direction in 2016. Kramer added that he still considers Sterling a friend and has always respected him.

“I am really excited,” he said. “I am kind of blessed by the opportunity. There are still a lot of kids that football can mean a great deal to them, if they let it, and my job is to make it their best part of their day.

“The biggest challenge is to get kids to trust the program. They have to trust that when I say my door is always open, my door is always open. I am going to listen to what they say. They have to understand I am just the steward of the program. I am just the leader. It is their program to make great so I just put them in the best position to be great.”

Kramer is also a physical education teacher and district wellness coordinator at MSAD 15 and an adjunct Instructor at Saint Joseph’s College.

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He has served as a longtime assistant under head coach Rick Marcella at Bridgton Academy as a quarterback coach, defensive secondary coach and offensive coordinator for several years. 

“Coach Marcella retired this year, and I was all set to join the new coaching staff and I was all fired up to do it — and then I put my name in to see if they were interested in me at Edward Little — and the next think you know, here I am,” Kramer said. “I thought the kids that I was coaching kind of lined up with my upbringing and where I came from outside of Chicago. No. 1, I have already said it, I like the kids that I was coaching when I was coaching (at Edward Little). There was nothing like the camaraderie of that group that was there.”

He added that he applied for the Edward Little job for the opportunity to make kids’ lives better.

“Sometimes, you need an outsider’s perspective to kind of give people a look as to how things can be run and how kids can see football as the best part of their day and not be afraid to make mistakes,” Kramer said. “That’s my goal. I don’t want kids out there afraid to make mistakes.”

Kramer is a graduate of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in Illinois. Before coaching at Bridgton, Kramer was the head football coach at Poland Regional High School from (2003-2007). Under his tutelage, the Knights  received the Western Maine Football Officials Association Sportsmanship Award in 2005. Kramer has also coached indoor and outdoor track, including several years at Poland.

“It became apparent when Rick walked in (that he was) extremely professional, values educational-based athletics,” Edward Little athletic director Todd Sampson said. “There is a reason why his football team at Poland won the sportsmanship award by the Western Maine Board of Officials.

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“He is going to do things the right way. In talking to some of his references, his football IQ is through the roof. 

Sampson noted that Kramer is coming from a school, Bridgton Academy, where football is taken seriously.

“These guys are all there looking to go on to the next level — whether they need another year of maturity or some academic help,” Sampson said. “Bridgton Academy is a high level of football. Talking to coach Marcella and some of the folks up at Bridgton, he is extremely well-respected.”

But, Sampson cautions, getting the Edward Little program up to par in Class A will take time. The Red Eddies have gone winless in the two most recent seasons of 11-man tackle football, finishing the 2019 and 2021 seasons with 0-9 records.

“There is no magic bullet,” he said. “There is nothing that will happen overnight that is going to get to where we need to be or want to be. Rick has a track record of building relationships — whether that is with his coaching staff, whether that it is with kids in the community. I think that is the first step.” 

He said Kramer will attract perspective athletes who might be on the fence about playing football. 

“The other great thing about Rick is he is a tremendous educator,” Sampson said. “He won the Maine Physical Education Teacher of the Year award. We are right next to Gray-New Gloucester, and that makes it pretty convenient to come up and coach for us.

Sampson said finding a qualified coach like Kramer was an exhaustive process, and he is sold on Kramer’s abilities to bring the program around.

“We are excited that Kramer is our new football coach,” Sampson said.

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