This summer we are highlighting former Buckeye student-athletes who have returned to work in the athletics department
Scarlet and Gray raised more than $4,900 for cancer research
Derr lettered from 2007-10
Incoming freshmen mark first recruiting class for head coach Holly Vargo-Brown
April 9-15. 2013
Holly Vargo-Brown is in her fourth season as head coach of the Ohio State Synchronized Swimming program. She is just the third coach in the program's 36-year history.
"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."
"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," T.J. Shelton, associate athletics director for sports administration, said. 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."
In her first season as the head coach of the Ohio State synchronized swimming team, Holly Vargo-Brown guided the Buckeyes to six first-place finishes, including their 23rd-consecutive North Regional Championship, as well as a second-place finish at the U.S. Collegiate Championships in Palo Alto, Calif.Behind three silver medals, the Scarlet and Gray claimed fourth place at the U.S. Senior National Championships in Greensboro, N.C.
Under Vargo-Brown's guidance, Buckeye Paige Ramsey was tabbed the U.S. Collegiate Athlete of the Year, and six swimmers - Chelsea Aton, Lauren Nicholson, Yuliya Maryanko, Paige Ramsey, Katie Spada and Khadija Zanotto - earned U.S. Collegiate All-America laurels. Heidi Liou and Aton collected U.S. Collegiate Academic Team honors and were recognized as Big Ten Distinguished Scholars. Additionally, 11 Buckeyes were named Ohio State Scholar-Athletes, while Julia Gaylard, Samantha Golomb, Tori Hawes, Kristine Irwin, Paige Wells, Maryanko, Nicholson, Spada, Liou, Aton and Zanotto were Academic All-Big Ten selections.
Her second second was just as good as the first. The Buckeyes won the U.S. Senior National Championship in addition to finishing second at the U.S. Collegiate National Championships. Vargo Brown was named the U.S. Synchro Coach of the Year and six Buckeyes earned U.S. Collegiate All-American honors.
In 2015, Brown was again named the U.S Synchro Coach of the Year after guiding the Buckeyes to the US Colegiate National Championship. That was the program's 29th national title. The team finished first at every event except for the North Regional Championship where it finished runner-up.
Individually, eight Buckeyes were named All-Americans under Vargo Brown in 2015. Senior Heidi Liou was also named to the Us Synchro Athlete of the Year. Out of the pool, a total of 13 Buckeyes earned the USA Sycnhro Academic Award and were also named Academic All-Big Ten. Six Buckeyes took home the prestigious Big Ten Distinguished Scholar award for earning a 3.7 GPA or higher during the year.
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 has helped coach 20 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.)
In 2004, Vargo-Brown served as the Ohio State interim head coach while then-head coach Linda Lichter-Witter was assisting the U.S. Olympic Team in Athens, Greece. During that campaign, Vargo-Brown led the Scarlet and Gray to their fifth-consecutive U.S. Collegiate national title, 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.
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 letterwinner 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.
A Toledo, Ohio, native, Vargo-Brown attended Morrison R. Waite High School. She was inducted into the Morrison R. Waite High School Athletics Hall of Fame in February of 2009 for her athletic and coaching successes. While attending Morrison R. 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.
Vargo-Brown and her husband Breck have three daughters, Taylor, Jordan and Grayson and a son, Chase Adam.
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