The closest Harry Perretta ’95 MA ever came to leaving the Main Line was in the summer of 2003. The Villanova Women’s Basketball head coach had received an attractive offer from a school in the Atlantic Coast Conference, so he sought out the advice of then Villanova President the Rev. Edmund J. Dobbin, OSA, whom he considered a friend more than a boss. Their conversation did not last long.
“Harry,” Father Dobbin told him, “get up and go back to your office because you’re not going anywhere.”
“That’s all I needed to hear,” Perretta says. “I just wanted somebody to say to me, ‘Hey, you don’t want to do this.’”
Besides, Villanova felt too much like his home.
Perretta’s office on the first floor of the Davis Center feels more like a living room. On a clear and cold Wednesday morning in January, he sits in a black leather chair and snacks on Tom Sturgis pretzel sticks while he regales a visitor with stories from his 42 years leading the Villanova Women’s Basketball team. Perretta was 22 when he beat out 65 applicants for the job. “I’ll do it for a couple of years and then I’ll try to get a teaching job at a high school,” he recalls thinking.
He never left. He’s in a white long-sleeve Bonner and Prendergast basketball shirt that’s tucked into his lengthy navy blue shorts. He’s surrounded by memories of his teams’ achievements. To his left there’s a picture of the sold-out Pavilion on Feb. 28, 2004, when the Wildcats topped the dynastic University of Connecticut Huskies. To his right there are numerous Big East Coach of the Year awards. Behind him on a windowsill is a blue and white painted basketball, which he received for his 200th win. That was in 1987.
“I guess it went faster than I thought,” Perretta says. “I don’t know how to gauge it.”