Men's Water Polo

Vargas Honored with ACWPC Lifetime Achievement Award

STANFORD, Calif. - Former Stanford head coach John Vargas was honored by Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches (ACWPC) with their Lifetime Achievement Award on Friday.

Owning a career record of 389-117, the second-most wins of any coach in program history, Vargas guided Stanford to the 2002 and 2019 NCAA championships, while making appearances in seven total championship games and 10 NCAA tournaments overall. He directed the Cardinal to 20 or more wins 11 different times, including the winningest season in 20 years with a 26-4 campaign in 2014. Stanford claimed five MPSF titles under Vargas, including a conference-record three straight from 2018-20. He announced his retirement after 20 seasons at Stanford in February 2022.

Under Vargas' mentorship, the Cardinal produced some of the sport's premier talent, including multi-year recipients of the Peter J. Cutino Award, presented annually to the nation's most outstanding collegiate water polo player, Tony Azevedo and Ben Hallock. Cardinal players earned 92 All-America honors during Vargas' tenure, including at least three selections in each of the last five seasons.
Not only successful as a coach on The Farm, Vargas also excelled on the international stage with USA Water Polo as both a player and coach. He spent 10 years playing with the U.S. National Team and was a member of the U.S. Olympic Team at the 1992 Barcelona Games, leading the U.S. to a fourth-place finish.
Vargas would then join the national team coaching staff from 1993-96, serving as an assistant coach at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Vargas took the reins as the Senior National Team's head coach in 1997, a role he would hold through 2000 and at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
During Vargas' tenure, the national team took first or second place six times at national and international tournaments (first at the 1999 Pan-American Games, 1998 United States Cup, 1997 World FINA Cup; second at the 2000 UPS Cup, 1999 United States Cup, 1997 United States Cup). The team finished sixth at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, where Vargas coached four-time Stanford All-Americans Wolf Wigo and Azevedo.

Three of Vargas' former Stanford players – Azevedo, Peter Hudnut and Peter Varellas – were members of the Team USA squad that captured silver at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. In all, nine of Vargas' former players have appeared on the sport's biggest stage as Olympians.

Vargas came to The Farm from Southern California, where he served as the head coach for the boys' water polo and swim program at Corona del Mar High School in Newport Beach. Vargas' teams captured four CIF Southern Section 4A championships (1985, 1987-89) and three Southern Section Division II titles (1999-2001).
Vargas graduated from UC Irvine in 1982 with a degree in social science. A two-time All-American (1981-82) and four-year letterwinner, Vargas helped lead the Anteaters to an undefeated season and NCAA title in 1982.