TOP: Wartburg College players and fans wore t-shirts dedicated to Hayfield grad Tanner Kramer during their recent tournament run. -- Photo Provided by Wartburg College
TOP: Wartburg College players and fans wore t-shirts dedicated to Hayfield grad Tanner Kramer during their recent tournament run. -- Photo Provided by Wartburg College

Hayfield grad survives a serious scare

Published 9:28pm Tuesday, March 5, 2013

It was going to be a big day for Tanner Kramer.

The 2010 Hayfield grad and back-up point guard for the Wartburg College men’s basketball team was preparing to play in his first Iowa Conference tournament game of his career, when his life changed forever.

A flu that didn’t go away

It started when Kramer went to a routine dinner at a Japanese Steakhouse, when suddenly he came down with what he thought was the flu.

Hayfield grad Tanner Kramer handles the ball against Coe College this past season. Kramer is a back-up point guard for the Knights, but he missed the conference tournament with a serious illness
Hayfield grad Tanner Kramer handles the ball against Coe College this past season. Kramer is a back-up point guard for the Knights, but he missed the conference tournament with a serious illness

His temperature was up to 103 and he was dehydrated, but he was still hoping to play in Wartburg’s tournament opener against Coe College Feb. 19, which the Knights won 64-54.

Kramer was eventually put on an IV in a Waverly, Iowa hospital, but as his condition worsened, he and his mom went to Mayo Clinic, where he was told his kidneys were failing.

“It’s pretty scary to hear that as a college kid, especially when you’re an athlete,” Kramer said.

The worst of times

What followed was probably the worst experience of Kramer’s life. He vomited 200 times in one day and the undersized point guard lost a total 11 pounds throughout the whole ordeal.

There was a time when the doctors told Kramer’s mom to start calling his brothers because they didn’t know what was going to happen.

Kramer was sometimes unresponsive, but he remembers staying positive through his entire three-day stay in the hospital.

“I tried to keep the mindset that I was gonna play (basketball) again,” Kramer said. “I was thankful for all of the positive texts and all of the prayers I was getting. Having that and my family kept me going.”

It turned out Kramer had caught a virus at the steakhouse and his health eventually took a turn for the better. He’s still taking medication to help strengthen him.

Back to basketball

On Feb. 22, Kramer was able to watch Wartburg upset top-seeded Luther College 62-57 on an IPad in the hospital.

Kramer was pleasantly surprised when he saw Wartburg’s whole team and some of its fans wearing t-shirts with his name and number on them.

“I thought that was pretty cool and they said I was an inspiration for them,” Kramer said.

Kramer also got the opportunity to re-enact a scene from the movie ‘Remember the Titans’ during the Luther game.

“I was Gary Bertier in there,” Kramer said. “I’d be yelling at the officials or getting into the game and the doctors kept running into check on me to see if I was all right.”

By the time Wartburg was playing the University of Dubuque in the conference title game, Kramer was able to watch the game from home. The Knights lost 73-60, but it was still their best run in Kramer’s three years there.

The team was picked to finish last in the Iowa Conference before the season and it hadn’t qualified for a tournament game in the previous two seasons.

“It was a remarkable season,” Kramer said. “(But what I went through) is something I never want to go through again.”

Home again

After Wartburg’s season was over, Kramer was able to come back to Hayfield on a break. He saw Hayfield junior Cole Kruger pass him for third in the school’s all-time scoring list in the Vikings’ playoff win over Medford Monday.

Kramer was also able to watch his cousin Brady, a Hayfield senior, play and he gave him some basketball advice after the game.

“It’s nice to see all of the kids who were little when I played for Hayfield, playing well out there,” Kramer said.

Now Kramer’s focus is on getting back in shape so he’ll be ready for his senior season with the Knights. He said words can’t even describe how motivated he is to get back on the court and he’s already went out and taken some jump shots.

“I’m pumped and I’m trying to get back in shape,” Kramer said.

Kramer has also made another vow. He’s not going back to that Japanese steakhouse.

“My dad was just asking me about that,” Kramer said. “I’m not going there again.”

Kramer played in 23 regular season games this season for the Knights (15-12 overall) off the bench and he averaged 2.7 points and 1.1 assists per game.


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