We met John Vargas, the coach of Stanford University's waterpolo team, in the township of Mlini, Croatia. He kindly agreed to an interview just minutes before his team was to face "Gusar", one of the local II Division teams.
"Croatia is a beautiful country with a great,
CP: John, what brings you here, to Mlini?
JV: Croatia is a beautiful country and with a great, the best in the world, tradition of waterpolo. We come from Stanford University, we're a waterpolo team, and we like to experience different culture while playing waterpolo in such a great country.
CP: Have you visited Croatia before?
JV: Yes. I have visited Croatia four or five times before. We love it so much we keep coming back.
CP: We're glad to have you here. What is your philosophy of approach to waterpolo at Stanford?
JV: Simply put, I aim at great waterpolo. You have to be able to think the game and play with discipline. It's that simple. We focus on fundamental play, discipline in many facets of the game such as positioning, patience in front of the goal... Just many different things.
CP: When did you first feel you, as a coach, have formed your own strategical, tactical approach?
JV: I coached in 2000 Olympics in Sydney and have had many great coaches that were mentors. Three of four years leading up to the Olympics I felt I had a pretty good grasp of the tactics that we wanted to implement and the philosophy of how I approach the game.
"I started playing waterpolo when I was seven.
"I started playing waterpolo when I was seven.
CP: Let's digress for a moment and go backwards in time. What first sparked your love of waterpolo?
JV: I come from a big family and I have two older brothers that are five and six years older than I am. They were the ones that have started on a local swim team that also had a waterpolo team. Of course, being a younger brother, I tagged along and started playing waterpolo when I was seven. Loved it ever since.
CP: Now, returning closer to the present, would you give us an insight of a coach's mindframe at the Olympics?
JV: Well, it's the highest level of waterpolo and the most exciting. I started playing at the very young age and have always dreamed about going to the Olympics. I was fortunate enough to play at the '92 Olympics and during that time, I think because of the type of player that I was, I was drawn toward coaching. I was on the staff during the next Olympics in '96 in Atlanta and felt very fortunate to have been elected to coach.
CP: Acustomed to seing the game from the pool, was it a drastic change to see it from the deck of the pool? Is it a whole new paradigm?
JV: Yes, because not only are you dealing with the tactics but you're dealing with the individuals to make sure they have good chemistry and they get along and approach the game as a team. As a player I didn't have to think as much about that. As a coach, the aspect of putting together the pieces creates a huge difference in the level of responsibility.
CP: What is your team-building strategy or philosophy?
JV: Well, we're team-building right now. I brought the Stanford team to Croatia; we started at Split (city midway down the Dalmatian coast), chartered a small boat and have enjoyed interacting as a team while seeing the beautiful countryside between Split and Dubrovnik.
"To reach the highest level in waterpolo
CP: Quite nice. What advice would you give to the coaches and/or to the players?
JV: It's probably the same. One, you can never learn enough about the sport and two, practice -- put in more time than required. Lots of players will show up for practice, but to reach the highest level in waterpolo one needs to think about the game before and after practice, one needs to live the game.
CP: On behalf of Cavtatportal and the waterpolo community in the Dubrovnik Riviera, thank you very much and welcome.
JV: Thank you for having me.
3/23/2013 05:25:28 pm
5/7/2013 10:05:14 pm
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9/20/2013 12:03:42 am
Accepted into the United States Air Force Academy upon finishing school, but instead chose to attend Carnegie Mellon University. Upon graduating, Vargas moved to Los Angeles. Thanks for information.
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9/22/2019 03:22:24 am
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Born in Dubrovnik in 1973. Shortly after, his family moved to Cavtat. Spent the college years (and then some) in the US, mostly in NYC. Organizational behaviorist, HR L&D expert, published author, show-host (TV & radio), afficionado of water sports and tennis. Cavtatportal's editor-in-chief.