Championships of Decades Past



Sarah McAssey



A lot can change in 31 years. Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu have replaced Harold Jensen and Ed Pinckney as household names.  The bookstore is selling out of “Party Like It’s 1985” T-shirts, and the Bowling for Soup song, “1985” has been brought out of musical obscurity. In the wake of Villanova’s second championship, alumni recall what it was like to be a student in three decades ago, watching Rollie Massimino’s team win it all in Cinderella- story fashion. 

Thomas Foley (’87) father of freshman Colleen Foley, was a sophomore at Villanova when they brought home a national championship title. Foley saw both wins live in Lexington, Kentucky.

“It was an exciting weekend in Kentucky,” he recalls. “I drove down there with three other guys.  There were a number of motor homes full of students that we passed on the way there.”

Having a daughter carrying on the Wildcat legacy has made this year’s championship all the more exciting for Foley.

“I enjoyed every aspect of the season and I am so happy that Colleen was able to experience the same as a student,” Foley said. “We have been following Villanova Basketball as a family for years, and now Colleen can follow it as a student as opposed to the child of an alumni.  We now have a very special student experience to share with Colleen.”

One thing 1985-ers didn’t have was the ability to upload pictures and transfer experiences in the blink of an eye.

“Social media and technology have made sharing the championship experience easier and much longer lasting than it was in 1985,” Foley said. “We have all been able to see so many aspects of the celebrations by students, alumni and fans that were very short-lived and forgotten in 1985.  Although I was not in Houston this time or on campus, I feel I was in both places because I was able to experience the moments in both places. This victory will live on forever.”

Victoria Foley, Colleen’s mother and a 1987 graduate of the Business School, was also a sophomore in 1985. She remembers watching the game in Sullivan Hall surrounded by her friends.

“When we won, campus just erupted and everyone ran out into the quad,” Foley said. “No one expected us to win. The celebration went on into the next morning. My mother always reminds me that I called her at 2 am.”

Foley admitted to having some nerves about watching the final matchup.

Foley says, “When Marcus Paige tied the game we were a little deflated, but as 1985 Championship students we knew anything was possible.  And we had faith.“

“When Kris Jenkins sunk the game winner we were ecstatic and all those feelings of joy, euphoria, pride and happiness washed over me again.  I knew Colleen was having similar feelings on the floor of the Pavilion.”

According to Foley, an experience like this one bonds Villanova students for life.

“I think the students that were there at that time have a special bond with each other.  Whenever you meet someone from the Classes of ’85 to ’88 you always talk about the game and find out where you watched it, if you went to Lexington, and other details.  Villanova basketball and winning the Championship cemented my fate as a lifelong Villanova basketball fan.”

The atmosphere of excitement and pride incited by the victory has fans swarming the bookstore and posing for pictures with players on campus. 

Whether a victory over Georgetown 66-64 in Lexington Kentucky or eliminating North Carolina with a three point shot at the buzzer in Houston, Texas, it all makes for an unforgettable experience.

Regardless of the decade, experiencing Villanova win a national championship title is a defining moment in a college career. Students of the 1985 celebration can attest that Villanova basketball roots run deep within every Wildcat.