“Once a Rambler, always a Rambler. Since 1921 and forever” reads my cousin Jack’s 2008 Prep basketball camp T-shirt. For six years, this phrase has resounded in my head, and recently, I have finally found the validity of this statement. Through the students and benefactors and through the teachers and alumni, we gain a share of the excellence so unanimously known to come with the legacy Cathedral Prep holds. In particular, Pete McCormick, class of 1984, will always be a Rambler. No matter where he goes, what he does, or where the road takes him, he will remain one of the loyal and true, he will be a part of the brotherhood, and most importantly, he will represent what it means to be a Cathedral Prep Rambler.
Orange and black blood runs through the veins of the entire McCormick family. They hold one of the longest legacies in the school’s nearly hundred year history. His grandfather, John J. McCormick Sr., graduated in the first graduating class of Cathedral Prep (1925), which should be known to differ from the first class of Cathedral Prep (1921). Later on, John J. McCormick Jr. became the first second generation graduate when he earned his diploma in 1949. From there stemmed a tradition that has lasted ever since. Countless members of Pete’s immediate and distant family have made their way through the halls of Cathedral Prep. There are even two McCormicks in my graduating class of 2015, Patrick and John.
When Pete was deciding what school to attend for high school after attending St. Peter’s Cathedral Center for grade school, Cathedral Prep was the obvious choice. The decision was made not just for the legacy, but for what might just have been the second most life-changing part of his four years at Prep, a part that would go on to determine much of his future: hockey. Pete played goalie for the Ramblers, who were the best in the area and consistently played one of the toughest schedules in the state. The tough schedule proved to be helpful for the team as they had much success in Pete’s four years, especially in his senior year. He led his Ramblers to a state championship and brought the coveted trophy to the hallways of Prep for the first time in the program’s history. It was truly an unbelievable achievement.
Pete finished his high school career and moved on to attend the University of Notre Dame, where he used his talents as a goalie to join the hockey team as a walk-on. He played for two years on the school’s junior varsity team and then made the varsity cut his junior year, where he played under Lefty Smith, Notre Dame’s legendary hockey coach. After Pete graduated from Notre Dame in 1988, his playing career may have ended, but this signified the start of his coaching career.
From 1991-92, he started off as the coach of a travel team in South Bend, Indiana, where he coached with two of his teammates from college. Then in 1994, his Prep classmate, teammate, and lifelong friend John Sala got him to come and coach as an assistant for Prep’s junior varsity hockey team. They had many good JV and varsity teams and even won the second state championship for the school in 1997.
Pete found a job in Vermont, and so he and his family packed their belongings and headed out to the Green Mountain State in 1999. Pete coached a team out there and like before, experienced much excellence. He explained, “We won the Vermont State Championship – it was a Cinderella story – great goaltending and some fortuitous bounces. Really the highlight of my coaching career.” It was another excellent achievement in his illustrious hockey career.
Pete later returned to Erie after a year of living in Vermont. He got back into coaching, but this time it was a little different. The almighty Ramblers were in need of a varsity coach, so Pete filled the gig from 2002-05. They made the playoffs his first two years, but in his final year, they narrowly missed the playoffs by just one game. Pete mentioned in an interview that there was much talent on the team, even a couple of players who continue to play semi-pro and professional hockey.
But hockey was not all he learned in his time at Prep. Learning from the greats such as Robert Achille and Mina George, Pete had a sense of integrity and a demand for excellence instilled in him. Pete clarified, “[They] all had high expectations of the students in and out of school, on and off the field, the court, or the ice.” The faith he developed while at Prep has certainly proven to be the most fruitful virtue he learned from this school. It enhanced his Catholic faith and allowed for him to explore the depths of his religion. The priests that taught and disciplined him turned him into the man of strong faith he has grown into. Faith is undoubtedly the most important part of Pete’s life currently and it would not be at the level it’s at today if it were not for Cathedral Prep.
With this it set him up for much prosperity in his future. Pete has now settled down in Fairview with his four kids where he works for Erie County Care Management as a billing manager. But even though he has moved on from Cathedral Prep as he is no longer working or going to school, he still remains good friends with his classmates and certainly follows Cathedral Prep sports and news. His sons John (2015), Will (2017), and Sam (2019) are continuing the orange and black tradition so well known to his family. He may have moved on, but as we all know, “Once a Rambler, always a Rambler. Since 1921 and forever.”