VILLANOVA, Pa. - Villanova University Director of Athletics, Mark Jackson, announced today that head softball coach Maria DiBernardi will retire following the 2018 season. DiBernardi will enter her 34th and final year with an all-time record of 853-734-10. The winningest coach in program history, DiBernardi’s career is unparalleled in the history of the softball program and the Wildcat community.
“Maria’s dedication and loyalty to Villanova has left a legacy few could ever match,” said Jackson. “We cannot thank her enough for all of her contributions to Villanova softball, the Athletic Department and the entire University.”
During her prestigious career as a Villanova Wildcat, DiBernardi created a culture of excellence, enthusiasm and determination that drove her team to historic accomplishments. Her dedication to each of her players both on the field and in the classroom has produced 303 Big East Academic All-Stars, 77 All-Big East honorees, 28 of which were named to the first team, four Big East Pitchers of the Year, one Big East Rookie of the Year, 28 All-Region Players, 11 CoSida Academic All Americans, six Senior Student-Athletes of the Year and one CoSida Academic All-American of the Year. In her 34 years, DiBernardi's student-athletes have consistently maintained a GPA over 3.0 with the 2016-17 team holding a 3.4 GPA for the spring semester.
“Even if you disregarded every statistic, award and accolade, you’d never find a coach who is as committed and hard working as Coach DiBernardi,” Associate Head Coach Jessica O’Donnell noted. “The pride she has in her team and her work is unmatched. She’s the epitome of what it means to be a Wildcat.”
Among her many accomplishments is a long standing commitment to consistent performance in Big East play. DiBernardi has led the Wildcats to 16 Big East Tournament appearances and three second place finishes since the inception of the tournament in 1990.
With a current total of 853 victories, DiBernardi is ranked 23rd for active coaches on the NCAA all time coaching list and 40th in all-time coaching victories among all Division 1 coaches. She has led the Wildcats to 12 seasons of 30 wins or more, including three 40-plus win seasons in 1999, 2001 and 2002.
DiBernardi has always impressed upon her student-athletes a sense of balance. She places a heavy emphasis on academic achievement and encourages her team to work tirelessly toward their educational, professional and personal goals. The comradery and dynamic of her teams have been a defining characteristic of her coaching style. From frequent individual meetings with her players to holiday dinners at her home, DiBernardi strives to create a unique support system for her team that stays with her players long after graduation, even inspiring many former players to pursue successful coaching careers.
Her impact on the sport and the community extends far beyond Nova Nation. DiBernardi led a team to two gold and two silver medals over a four year span at the Keystone State Games. From 1997-2000, she served as the president of the BIG EAST Conference Softball Committee. In 2002, DiBernardi’s own athletic accomplishments were recognized as she was named to Norristown’s All-Time Team for the 20th Century as a pitcher and was honored as Co-Player of the 20th Century. DiBernardi was voted into the Downingtown High School Hall of Fame in 2015 for her achievements in coaching; the highest honor awarded by her alma mater.
“My 34 years at Villanova have been among the most rewarding and memorable experiences of my life,” DiBernardi said. “My players and staff have been family to me and my daughter, Deanna, for as long as we can remember. I am eternally grateful to the University, the Athletic Department, my coaches and my team for giving me the experience of a lifetime. I want to specifically thank Father Peter Donohue, Mark Jackson, Lynn Tighe and all the members of the Athletic Department and Villanova community for their support throughout my career. I'm thankful to my husband, my daughter and my family for their never-ending encouragement and support and I look forward to spending more time with them.”