Carl Kremer: That Which Guides Him
March 6, 2012Cincinnati Moeller High School
by Greg Hoard
To appreciate the excellence and consistency of a program that’s won three state titles and 14 of the last 19 league titles you must first appreciate its coach. So it is with Moeller basketball and its head coach…Miami East alumnus, Carl Kremer.
Cincinnati - There is something in his voice, a raspy worn-down voice; the voice of a 52-year-old man who has schooled hundreds upon hundreds and spared no effort in doing so. At first, it’s hard to define.
As he speaks of finding his place, doing his job and all those who have helped him, it becomes clear. Every sentence is wrapped with gratitude and laced with thanks.
This is the voice of Carl Kremer, varsity basketball coach at Cincinnati Moeller High School for the past 22 years, and, arguably, one of the best in the business.
On February 25th, he earned his 400th career win, 61-37, over Hamilton in the first round of the District Tournament. His team presented him with the game ball, and afterwards he said: “Coaching milestones are funny things. It’s mostly about longevity. I’ve been blessed to be at the same school for my whole career. It takes great players, great assistants and great parents. I’ve had all three.”
Days later he was driving to Columbus for an early morning meeting with the OHSAA Competitive Balance Committee and those words came up.
“It was a humble and appreciated statement, Carl. But there is an element of skill and knowledge involved. Some people could coach 40 years and not reach 400 wins. You must be doing something right.”
For a long moment, he said nothing. Then, he sighed. “I really don’t know what to say,” he said. “There is something about being at a school with a great culture of success in everything, not just in sports, but in everything you do: the classroom, the hallways, the importance of hard work and sacrifice and where that takes you in life. I know that all sounds trite, but it’s true at Moeller. I sensed it the first day I walked in the door.
“I grew up in a modest home. My father was a bricklayer. My mother was a schoolteacher and, later, a stay at home mom. We lived just outside Sidney, Ohio, in a rural community. I went to a Miami East High School, and I had a great experience there. But when I came to Moeller (in 1984 as an English and history teacher), I just sensed a different culture than I had ever experienced before; everyone, reaching and working so hard to achieve, to be their very best.
“What we’ve done in basketball here is simple. We’ve been able to build on that culture. We have certain expectations.”
Just outside the Moeller locker room there is a plaque that every player passes. It states the principles of the program. At the top, is the Greek word, Arete. The loose English translation is this: “Excellence bound up with the notion of the fulfillment of purpose or function, the act of living up to one’s full potential.”
Beneath that basic credo, are three guiding principles:
But, in fact, all are encompassed in the first, Arete.
“I worry sometimes,” Kremer said. “Our society has changed so much, our view of sports has taken a turn that is disturbing to me. It’s ESPN highlights. It’s the news. It’s all about the individual, the star, the big highlight…
“People forget the importance of the process. I remember what Skip Prosser (the late former Xavier and Wake Forest coach) used to say, and I’ve stolen this and used it many times: ‘A basketball team is like a triangle. People see the star at the point, the apex. They don’t see the base, the strength. Coaches see the base, the foundation. That’s all important, and it’s important every player understands that.”
Still, the question comes back to skill. But Carl Kremer will have nothing to do with that. Instead, he talks about his assistant coaches: Mike Sussli, Fred Hesse and Dan Jurkowitz. “They are integral and vital to what we do,” he says.
And what is it that have they done at Moeller, once known and long ago, for being a football powerhouse?
In Kremer’s years at Moeller, he has won three Division-I State Championships. His teams have won the Greater Catholic League championships 14 of the last 19 years.
His credits could fill another page, maybe two, but he wouldn’t like that. He doesn’t view his achievements as his own. He views himself as part of a greater aim.
There is a word that guides him. It’s Greek. It’s arête.