So what hasn't Waite graduate Holly Vargo-Brown accomplished during her long involvement with Ohio State synchronized swimming team?
“With a coffee mug in one hand and a bright smile on her face, she is a renaissance coach, just doing it all. Not only is she one of the most important pieces to the Buckeyes' success over the past 19 seasons, but she is constantly on call, doing all the little things that make any intercollegiate program run smoothly and successfully,” states an OSU athletics biography.
Vargo-Brown has been named the new head coach of the Ohio State team, T.J. Shelton, associate athletic director for sports administration, announced.
“It’s very exciting, of course,” Vargo-Brown said. “When I was first interviewed, I said I was much honored to still be getting an opportunity to still be part of Ohio State. As an alumni, I’m in love with the university and to still be connected in such an integral way. Even after all this time, it’s a dream come true. I’m excited to get started on the next season and see what we can do.”
She began as a member of Ohio State’s team in 1981 and has lived in Columbus ever since. But she’s proud of her Toledo heritage, which is where it all really began — with the Toledo Flamingo Club team.
“I was almost 12 or 13-years-old when my mom had seen an advertisement in the paper for the Flamingo Club, and I had been interested in gymnastics and swimming, and this sport is kind of a combination of both of those,” Vargo-Brown said.
“I went there and tried out and competed for the Flamingo Club, and when I went on to college I competed for Ohio State, and pretty much got out of the pool and onto the pool deck, as they say. I never really left — I just had a couple years where I was raising kids, but pretty much have been involved the rest of the time.
“I’m very proud of where I come from. I’ve very proud from of still being a Toledoan.”
Brown was inducted into the Waite Athletics Hall of Fame in February of 2009 for her athletic and coaching successes. While attending Waite, Vargo-Brown was the 1978 Ohio junior champion, 1980 Ohio Region 6 champion and 1979 and 1980 Northwest Ohio AAU Athlete of the Year. In 1979, Vargo-Brown went on to finish 11th at the Junior National Championships. Additionally, she was a two-time member of the varsity cheerleading squad.
Long history at Ohio State
Vargo-Brown will be just the third coach in the Ohio State program's 36-year history, but she’s done this kind of thing before.
In the summer of 2009, Vargo-Brown had been promoted to associate head coach, “a sign that she is far more valuable to this program than her modesty will ever allow her to admit,” the OSU biography states.
During two separate coaching stints with the Buckeyes (1986-1990) and (1993-present), she coached 14 U.S. collegiate national championship squads.
In 2004, Vargo-Brown served as the interim head coach as head coach Linda Lichter-Witter was assisting the U.S. Olympic Team in Athens. During that season, Vargo-Brown led the Buckeyes to their fifth-consecutive Collegiate Synchronized Swimming title as she coached three All-Americans and was later named United States Synchronized Swimming Coach of the Year.
Vargo-Brown also led Ohio State in 2005 when Lichter-Witter was on medical leave. Vargo-Brown coached the Buckeyes to a runner-up finish at nationals, while mentoring five All-Americans at the conclusion of the season.
Vargo-Brown began her coaching career at Ohio State as an assistant coach in 1986 and after a brief hiatus following the 1990 season, she returned as assistant coach in 1993. During her tenure with the Buckeyes, Vargo-Brown helped coach 19 U.S. Collegiate National championship teams as well as two U.S. Senior National championship squads.
Vargo-Brown also has been instrumental in leading various members of the program to a total of 41 U.S. titles (nine solo, 14 duet and 18 trio titles.)
"I have such great respect for the strong tradition of excellence established within this program by former head coaches Mary Jo Ruggieri and Linda Lichter-Witter," Vargo-Brown said. "I am honored to accept the responsibility of leading the next generation of Buckeye synchronized swimmers and remain incredibly grateful for the opportunity Gene Smith and the Ohio State Athletics Department have provided me."
"It's an exciting day for Ohio State synchronized swimming," Shelton said. "As a former student-athlete with 25 years of experience serving as assistant, associate and interim head coach for the Buckeyes throughout that time span, Holly is extremely prepared to take on the leadership role. Her passion for the sport of synchronized swimming, dedication to Buckeye nation and commitment to the overall development of student-athletes make her the perfect choice to lead our program."
The 2012 U.S. Synchronized Swimming Collegiate Contributor of the Year, Vargo-Brown has played a pivotal role in the growth of the sport collegiately, nationally and internationally. As a swimmer, she earned a spot on the 1985 U.S. National Team II squad. Vargo-Brown's coaching stints include leading U.S. Olympic Festival Teams in 1987 and 1988. She also was the assistant coach to the Venezuelan National Team at the 1987 Pan-American Games.
A Buckeye letter winner from 1981-84, Vargo-Brown was an All-American in 1984 and member of the 1982 and 1983 U.S. Collegiate championship teams. A four-time Ohio State Scholar-Athlete, she was the recipient of the Melvin and Irving Schottenstein Post-Graduate Award, which was first designed specifically to recognize and promote women's achievements in intercollegiate athletics at The Ohio State University. Vargo-Brown graduated from Ohio State in 1984 with a bachelor's degree in physical education.
Vargo-Brown and her husband Breck have three daughters, Taylor, Jordan and Grayson and a son, Chase Adam.