With the start of the 2017 high school football season now a week away, Northwest Conference athletic directors have decided to honor one of the men who helped build the league into one of the state’s best in football.
At a recent meeting, NWC athletic directors voted to honor former Lynden coach Curt Kramme by wearing a green and gold “CK” helmet sticker.
“This is something that was driven by the ADs and football coaches outside of us,” Lynden athletic director Mike McKee said. “It’s not something we, at Lynden, pushed for. I thought it was a neat way to honor Curt and his legacy – to see him appreciated not just by us at Lynden, but by the entire Northwest Conference.”
McKee said that the other 13 schools in the conference – including the league’s 1A schools and Ferndale and Squalicum, which play in the 3A Wesco North for football only – took the decals and expect to participate in the tribute. McKee said it was up to each team to decide when and for how long they will wear the decals.
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Kramme, a Hall of Famer who coached the Lions for 26 seasons, compiling a 248-61 record and leading Lynden to seven state titles, died in April after a year-long battle with a rare cancer.
“I thought that (the tribute) was a really cool acknowledgment from the entire league as to one man’s commitment to something,” said Blake VanDalen, who served on Kramme’s staff for 20 years and now replaces his mentor as Lynden’s coach. “I’ve never heard of that before. Everybody wears stickers for their own reason, but for an entire league to acknowledge somebody is something special. ... That’s respect – respect for somebody who did it the right way. Yeah, he won, but he did it the right way.”
Lynden, of course, also will wear the helmet stickers to honor Kramme. In fact, VanDalen said that is the only sticker the Lions will wear at a preseason jamboree 6 p.m. Saturday at Bellingham’s Civic Stadium, which also will feature Squalicum and Mount Baker.
“Then we’ll get everything ready to go for the first game,” VanDalen said.
In addition to the tribute sticker, “everything” will include a shield that Kramme designed for the 2017 team before his death. The green shield includes “Excellence” and “2017” and a lion head, and VanDalen added a gold “C” and “K” as another remembrance of Kramme.
Lynden opens the season by hosting Terry Fox Secondary Sept. 1, before traveling to face rival Ferndale Sept. 8.
“That’s going to be an extremely emotional game for both sides,” Ferndale coach Jamie Plenkovich said. “Curt meant so much to all the teams in this area.”