FROM FATHER TO SON, A LEGACY OF CRUSADER BROTHERHOOD
For Sandy Cerami ’85, it was the Crusaders vs. St.Joe’s home football game when he was 10. For his son Patrick ’20, his earliest memory of Bergen Catholic was in 2004 at age 4 when Brian Cushing led his team to a state championship against Don Bosco at Giants Stadium. “It was when I first got a little bit of the Bergen Catholic juice flowing through my veins and I think it was the same for Patrick,” says Sandy.
Both felt it early on and there was no turning back. A legacy of Crusader pride and brotherhood passed from father to son with connections built to last a lifetime. Growing up in their home in Oradell with his father, Sandy had two cousins who attended Bergen Catholic before him, Pierre ’79 and Regan ’80 McGuire. When it came time to choose a school for him, though, it was Sandy’s father Patrick, owner of the former Cerami Pontiac-GMC-Isuzu in Paramus, who guided him. “He’s the real reason behind my ultimate decision,” says Sandy. “There was a lot going on in my world at that time. I had just moved in with my dad and he knew that what I needed was some stability and that being in that environment would provide it for me. For that I’ll be forever thankful to him. He passed away last May but without him neither Patrick nor I would have had the opportunities we are blessed with today.” Sandy, an entrepreneur and professional speaker, co-owns Bloodhound Asset Recovery, which uses a SmartKey Tracking System to help keep track of high-value assets such as keys and tools. He lives with his wife Mary, Patrick and daughter Anna in Wyckoff. Early on in his Bergen Catholic tenure, Sandy credits Brother Guihen for helping him stay on the right path. “When he came to the school my sophomore year as a vice principal, he laid down the law for the boys,” says Sandy. “I had gotten myself into a little bit of trouble and was singled out, and instead of dealing with it in a severe manner Brother Guihen counseled me, provided support and continued to check in on me over my years there. He passed away recently but we had kept in touch and he has had a tremendous influence on me. I would call him my friend for the past 30 years.”
Both father and son appreciate how legacies matter at Bergen Catholic and how those who have passed through the school oftentimes come back. “Jack McGovern ’76, Jorge Mascaro ’84, Joe Branciforte ’64 and Zeke Rodgers ’92 all are graduates and continue to have a remarkable impact on the students,” says Sandy. For Patrick, who plays both basketball and baseball for the Crusaders, it’s the younger generation of alum, returned as faculty members, who have had the biggest influence: “Mr. Rosa ’08 and Mr. Leonard ’10, who graduated more recently, are able to communicate and connect with students day in and day out because it wasn’t that long ago that they themselves were students here. They are always there for us when we need them.” His father agrees: “To understand the essence of Bergen Catholic is to look at all of the people who have graduated and then returned to serve in some capacity at the school,” says Sandy. “That speaks volumes about the caliber of the people here.”
And bonds formed early on continue beyond graduation. “My oldest and best friendships date back to my days at Bergen Catholic,” says Sandy. “And many of us have sons who are there now or have attended as well. The sense of community and brotherhood has been a great touchstone for me over the past 30 years.” Adds Patrick: “For my whole life I’ve seen how my dad is connected to the school and I wanted that as well, to form friendships in these four years that will be there for the rest of my life.” Sandy is proud and encouraged by Patrick’s enthusiasm for Bergen Catholic. “He has had an opportunity to make his own mark there and having the connection with him to this place means a great deal to both of us. My father would be very pleased.”