Coach Kramer and Sister Roberta

Anyone who followed the football coaching career of Mike Kramer from Eastern Washington to Montana State to Idaho State  knows that he is super intense.

They also likely think the coach has a screw loose. In a likeable way. Those qualities helped him win football games. They have also helped derail his career.

So, it probably came as no surprise that Kramer shoved Idaho State receiver Derek Graves to the ground during a practice on Oct. 3. The receiver used his phone to record the incident off the team video, and it has since been a huge hit on the internet.

It is so big that ESPN’s Outside The Lines program picked up the story last week.

Now the police are investigating the incident, and the coach is likely to be sued by the receiver who hasn’t played in a game since because he says he has a neck injury from the shove.

As I watched the video, I couldn’t help to think that Graves flopped like Vlade Divac after the two-handed push from the coach.

I also couldn’t help but think of Sister Roberta.

The mention of that name still gives me goose bumps from fear. Sister Roberta was the principal at Butte Central Junior High when I was there. You didn’t want to cross her because she had a mean streak that kept order in the school based mostly her reputation.

Sister Roberta had a nickname that parents loved to call her — when the nun wasn’t around. The students never uttered it out loud because we feared she’d emerge from the wall like Rambo in the jungle if we dared to say the words “Torpedo —.”

Sister Roberta’s legend preceded here. Nobody I know ever really saw her be mean, we just heard she was mean, and we believed it.

One day while leaving eighth grade computer class in the basement of the old school, Scott Doherty thought it would be funny to push me from the classroom into the hallway. It just so happens that Doherty shoved me into a group of sixth graders walking by.

Scott was one of my best friends, and getting you in trouble was what he specialized in. It was just his sense of humor. One time he reached over and turned my engine off as I was driving down a busy Harrison Avenue.

After Scott shoved me —harder than Kramer shoved Graves, by the way — I apparently knocked down a sixth-grade girl who was about a third of the size of me. I didn’t notice the girl, I was too busy getting my feet so I could kill Scott. I never got the chance.

As fate would have it, Sister Robert saw the whole thing. Well, she saw everything but Scott pushing me. He never got caught doing stuff like that.

What Sister Roberta saw was me running out of the computer room with no regard for the safety of the tiny sixth-grade girls

“Mr. Foley,” Sister Roberta said through her teeth as she threw me against the wall. She slapped me across the face twice. Then, when I made the mistake of laughing at her red, shaking face, she slapped me two more times.

Here’s how bad the attack from the nun was: even the most feared woman not to have a house fall on her realized she crossed the line. She apologized to me a few minutes later. I swear this is true.

During the next class, Mrs. Quinlan, the principal’s secretary, came into Miss O’s math class and said, “Sister Roberta would like to see Bill Foley.”

The class let out a collective groan, and I honestly began to fear for my life. After saying my goodbyes to my classmates, I slowly walked down the stairs to the principal’s office with the enthusiasm of Ted Bundy heading to the electric chair. I was actually thinking I’d rather be Bundy.

In her office, Sister Roberta told me she was sorry for overreacting. She explained that she just feared for that poor little girl that got knocked flying against the wall — a lot harder than Graves hit the ground, by the way — and she snapped.

Sister Roberta asked me why I was leaving the computer room so recklessly, and I came up with a believable story that didn’t involve ratting out my friend, whom I was planning to kill at that moment. (A lot of world-class cyclists should take note.)

She gave me a lecture about safety and proper behavior and sent me back to math class. My classmates were surprised to see me alive. Or at least without any noticeable bruises.

After school I didn’t dare tell my parents about the incident, even though I felt like was an innocent victim in the whole thing. Luckily, Sister Roberta didn’t either. I believe she honestly felt guilty for slapping me.

So, here’s the question: Have we really turned into that big of wimps since 1988?

Had I told my parents that Sister Roberta slapped me, it wouldn’t matter if I was innocent or not, the last thing they would have done is contacted the police. Like everybody else in my class, I would have been in more trouble at home than I was in at school.

It’s not like any of our parents were Ward Cleaver, either. It’s just the way it was, and really, it wasn’t that long ago. By the way, I had to walk home — uphill — every day after school. Seriously.

Now, the police are investing Kramer’s shove of the receiver, who was in full pads, for a push that isn’t a tenth as hard as he’d get from an average 5-foot-9, 170-pound defensive back.

The coach is in hot water, and his job is likely on the line. It will be shocking if Kramer survives this scandal and coaches the Bengals next season, and, frankly, that’s just silly.

Sure, Kramer shouldn’t shove players. It was a bonehead move that he probably regretted soon after it happened. It’s hard to see it as grounds for firing or arresting the coach, however, for pushing a player only slightly harder than the average dad pushes his 2 year old on a swing.

The coach shouldn’t lose his job, he should be arrested, and he shouldn’t be sued.

Five minutes alone with Sister Roberta, though, seems about right.

— Sportswriter Bill Foley, who really hopes Sister Roberta doesn’t read ButteSports.com, writes a column that appears in ButteSports.com every Tuesday. twitter.com/Foles74

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2 Comments

  • Dave Dunmire
    October 24, 2012, 9:07 pm

    I didn’t even go to Central, and I know the legend of “Torpedo —.”

    REPLY
  • Lynn Doherty
    October 24, 2012, 9:51 pm

    Not my Scott! Oh, never mind … his dad remembers Scott’s little smirk smile! Good article.

    REPLY

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