By Antony Stark
John Perlette has been an avid part of the Oak Hall community for the past 19 years. At the start of this school year, he became the head of the Upper School. Prior to becoming division head, Perlette started his career at Oak Hall as a math teacher. He was a long-time coach for the Oak Hall cross-country and track teams, even coaching teams that have won multiple district titles, regional titles, and even state championships.
Perlette and his family moved to Gainesville when he was 4-years-old due to his father’s new job at the University of Florida. He attended Buchholz High School, where he first ran cross country and track under coach Mark Sheehan, and then for Mike Holloway, the current University of Florida track and field head coach. Perlette was considered an excellent runner in high school, leading his team to district titles, regional titles, and came very close to winning the state championship. “We were constantly contenders for state,” Perlette said. In his senior year he was the third fastest cross-country runner in the state. After high school, Perlette was recruited by the University of South Florida (USF) on a partial scholarship to run for Sheehan who, at the time, had moved from Buchholz to USF.
After an injury sidelined him at the beginning of his freshman cross country season, Perlette found himself doing physical therapy two times a day, leaving no room for studying or any other extracurricular activities. Though not able to run cross country, Perlette had a successful inaugural track season, qualifying for the 19 and under junior nationals team by qualifying for the 10,000 meter event. After his first season at USF, Perlette decided to walk away from his scholarship and running at the collegiate level. “I found myself in a situation where I didn’t have the desire to do both academics and athletics at the level of excellence that I expected from myself,” he said. Perlette moved back to Gainesville and attended the University of Florida (UF) where he was offered to run for its track and field team but declined the offer. Perlette went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in math, and a master’s degree in math, both from UF. Years later, Perlette returned to UF to earn another master’s degree, this time in biochemistry.
Perlette started at Oak Hall in 2001 as an Upper School math teacher. During his second year at Oak Hall, Perlette helped coach cross country, and track and field with Edwin McTureous, which he continued to coach for numerous years. Perlette took a five-year break from coaching when his son John Michael entered high school at Oak Hall, later graduating with the class of 2010. Through the years of coaching, Perlette has helped teams win multiple district, regional, and state championships. Other than winning trophies and medals, Perlette’s favorite thing about coaching and teaching is “watching students develop confidence no matter what level they compete at…it’s watching them grow athletes and good people,” he said. “They reach a level of success that they never thought was possible,” Perlette continued.
Now in the Upper School main office, Perlette sees the switch from the classroom to his current location as having advantages and disadvantages. “A disadvantage could be that now I don’t have a day-to-day connection that I’m used to with a specific group of students, but the advantage is that now I have the day-to-day connection with the entire Upper School,” he noted.