April 25, 2005. That’s the day the Kramer twins — Tanner and Jurney — arrived in this world, and shared the first of countless, life experiences they have enjoyed together.
“It’s very unique to have two kids of the same age always going through, basically, the same developments at the same time,” mom Shantrell Kramer said. “They grow together just in the maturity of getting prepared to be on their own, becoming independent on their activities, driving and all the stuff that they have to do. But, they also rely on each other quite a bit.”
This year, the twins are part of the first graduating class at Horizon High School, and both are excited to have the opportunity to leave their mark — and legacy — for future Hawks to embrace once they walk through the doors of Hawk nation.
“It’s fun, because we pretty much get to plan out what we want to do, and I know time’s ticking, but it’s something to say, ‘Yeah, we started this school; we are the first (graduating) class,’” Jurney Kramer said. “So, it’s pretty much our legacy that we are setting up in the school.”
Prior to the opening of Horizon, the twins attended Windermere High School. After moving from Virginia to Orlando to start high school, they were hesitant to move to a new high school.
“These past two years have been the best two years of my life,” Tanner Kramer said. “Really, when Horizon first opened, we didn’t want to go. … We were a little bummed. But we were really wrong, because Horizon has been the best school I’ve ever been to.”
Both Tanner and Jurney are part of the Student Government Association and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes — Tanner Kramer is one of the leaders for the FCA, while Jurney is a member and attends some of the meetings. During their years at Horizon High, the twins have become involved with the Best Buddies club — a club where they are able to share some quality time with special-needs students.
“We get to eat lunch with them and they are our buddies,” Jurney Kramer said.
A LIFE IN SPORTS
Tanner and Jurney have been around sports since they can remember.
For Jurney, dancing became her escape from reality when life hits hard and a way to communicate through a different language when words fail her.
“It helps me get through my tough days,” she said. “Obviously, people play sports, but dance is like a language. So, technically, when I don’t really know how to express what I’m feeling, dance is basically my other form of speech.”
Apart from doing competitive dancing at Footworks Dance Studio as an extracurricular activity, Jurney also decided to join the varsity cheer team at Horizon for her last year as a Hawk.
“My angle to join cheer was so I could make more school spirit, be more involved and support the school,” she said. “And obviously, (because) I have a brother who plays football, I get to support my brother and all our friends in the team. If you are able to do cheer and dance, it’s a different type of vibe (because) you have to learn how to use your body in different ways and I feel like it’s very unique.”
For Tanner, baseball is the sport that fills his earliest memories. However, he always had the desire to play tackle football and was able to finally do it when he started his freshman year of high school.
“I always wanted to play tackle football, but my mom never let me,” he said. “Once we got into high school, I was able to play football, and being a part of a team, building those friendships, that brotherhood, it’s something that you can’t compare with anything.”
With one twin on the football field and another one on the sidelines, Friday nights became something to cherish for the Kramers — and a unique experience not only for the twins, but also for their parents — Shantrell and Kris Kramer.
“There’s not a whole lot of twins families, so I think it’s a unique and special thing you get to do,” Shantrell said. “For Senior Night, I got to use Tanner’s shirt and uniform and then, I had a sash for Jurney as a cheer mom, so I get to do both things at the same time. Nobody else gets to do that.”
For the twins, this experience has allowed them to deepen their bond and create memories that will last a lifetime.
“One of my favorite memories I will cherish forever is after a football game, when we all go to the sidelines, just going and hugging my sister — knowing that when in doubt, no matter what happens on the field, I’ll always have my greatest supporter with me there,” Tanner said. “Just having her be on the field, having her just be with me — it’s so special, because time’s limited, and you just got to make best with what you have and cherish the memories while they last.”
Being together on the football field proves emotional for the twins, as there are moments when their twin telepathy allows them to sense each other’s feelings.
“Probably more me than Tanner, because he’s focused on what’s going on,” Jurney said. “But there’ll be times when I can just sit on the sidelines and be like, ‘He’s having a good game,’ … or times where I’ve caught myself thinking like, ‘Is he OK?’”
“We definitely have our own little thing going on,” Tanner said. “There’s times when I know what she’s thinking even if she doesn’t say anything or, on the football field for instance, sometimes, I can kind of get a grip when I’m on the sideline, I can feel some things that are not mine, but I can kind of feel that it’s Jurney.”
The twin telepathy goes beyond the football field way back to their toddler years.
“I know when we were younger, my mom would tell us that we used to have a language between us,” Jurney said. “We would speak baby gibberish (and have full conversations) with each other and then laugh.”
For Shantrell, the bond her children share is mesmerizing.
“These two have such a strong bond, so much so that when Jurney decided she wanted to be baptized this past August, she wanted Tanner to be in the pool with her,” she said. “And of course, he didn’t think twice about being there and assisting her in her baptism. It was an incredible and emotional moment to see my children, who were together in the womb, now be together before God.”
THE JOURNEY AHEAD
The road will soon split for the Kramer twins, as they are taking their separate paths after their high school graduation. Jurney is still weighing her options and is thinking about heading to school in Colorado, Tennessee or Florida Atlantic University.
“I’m really excited for college, because I’m excited to kind of start to experience who I am on my own,” she said.
Her dream? To become a sports psychologist for either the NFL or the MLB.
For Tanner, there are two big goals in life. He has dreamed of going to the U.S. Air Force Academy since he was in sixth grade. Then, after he retires as a pilot, he wants to plant a church. He currently is finishing up his applications for the Air Force Academy and the United States Naval Academy.
“I’m kind of excited to see where God takes me,” he said. “It’s all in (the schools’) hands and in God’s hands.”
However, despite their excitement to find their purpose in life, the twins are not ready to say goodbye.
“It’s hard to wrap my head around it, like I’m going to wake up, and I’m not going to go to class and see him in the hallways,” Jurney said. “If I’m having a bad day and I just need a hug from my brother, (he won’t be there), and that’s something I know, personally, I’m not ready for.”
“Like she said, I’m not ready for it,” Tanner said. “It’s sad, because time’s running out, and once we graduate and we go our separate paths, that’s kind of it, and it’s something I don’t want to think about, because I know that when that day comes, it’s going to be one of the toughest days of my life. My best friend is going to be gone and going her own way — and I’m going to be going my own way.
“(But), I’m just excited to see where life takes her,” he said. “We’ve grown up together. We’ve done basically everything together and, like my mom said, we are both two different people, but we are yin and yang. I’m just excited because I know God has big things for her, and I’m excited to see where life takes her and see what she’s going to do.”