Mike Varga is entering his ninth season season at the helm of the Gardner-Webb women's soccer program in 2022. Varga currently has a record of 59-73-19 at GWU and 245-231-52 overall after stops at Lincoln Memorial (TN) and South Alabama.
For the 2019 season Coach Varga took the Runnin' Bulldogs to a Big South Conference runner up finish in the post-season. Gardner-Webb won 10 regular season games, with seven of those in Big South league action.
Varga led the 'Dogs to another Big South Conference runner-up finish in both the regular season standings and tournament in 2018. The 'Dogs won 12 games, including seven in league action. One of those seven Big South victories was a 2-1 win over the Radford Highlanders, which was RU's only conference loss of the season. Varga's squad made its way to the Big South tournament championship with a 4-0 rout of the Winthrop Eagles in the quarterfinals, which avenged the 'Dogs' lone regular season Big South loss, and a 1-0 victory over USC Upstate in the semifinals. In its first finals appearance since 2010, Gardner-Webb fell to Radford, 1-0.
To conclude the 2018 campaign, numerous Runnin' Bulldogs received postseason accolades. As a team, Gardner-Webb was honored by the United Soccer Coaches with the Team Ethics and Sportsmanship Award, while three players - Keely Brown, Samuelle Grove and Stina Kleppe - were honored as Scholar All-South Region members by the USC. Kleppe was a Second-Team member, while Brown and Grove made the third team.
Seven Runnin' Bulldogs received All-Big South Conference awards. Kleppe and Brown made the Big South First-Team, while Brittany DeLoach, Samuelle Grove, Jada Newton and Erin Shamleffer were named Second-Team All-BSC. Newton, along with fellow freshman Maddie Turlington, made the All-Freshman. The same seven players received awards from the North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Assocation (NCCSIA).
In 2017, Varga's Runnin' Bulldogs finished 4-12-3 overall with a 2-4-3 mark in conference. Four Runnin' Bulldogs earned All-Big South Conference honors - Stina Kleppe, Samuelle Grove, Emily Jonas and Jessica Ferguson.
In 2016, the 'Dogs won nine games, finishing 9-8-3 overall. Six of those victories were Big South Conference wins as the Runnin' Bulldogs went 6-3 in conference action. Gardner-Webb's season ended with a loss to Longwood on the opening day of the BSC tournament.
The 'Dogs won six games in 2015, finishing 6-9-4 (3-5-2 BSC)
In 2014, Varga led GWU to an 8-10-2 record and its first conference tournament appearance since the 2011 season.
Varga’s squad enjoyed great success during his first season, as GWU ranked in the top three in the Big South in goals, assists, and points.
Three GWU players earned all-conference accolades, as Shelby Hooe earned first team honors, Krista Chauvin was named to the second team, and Addison Abee was selected as to the Honorable Mention squad. Hooe also was named Scholar-Athlete of the year, becoming the first GWU student-athlete to be named Big South Women’s Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Varga spent the 2013 season as an assistant coach with the Runnin’ Bulldogs and has 14 seasons of Division I head coaching experience under his belt. He has posted an overall career record of 236-201-37 in nearly two decades of head coaching experience.
Prior to joining the Gardner-Webb program last season, Varga served as head women’s soccer coach at the University of South Alabama from 1999-2012.
Varga won 121 matches during his time with the at South Alabama, leaving the program as its all-time leader in victories. USA captured the Sun Belt regular season title in 2000 and was league tournament runner up in 2005. The core group of student-athletes he recruited on this past season’s roster led South Alabama to a Sun Belt Conference Tournament crown, a 14-win season and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
During his time in Mobile, Varga mentored 20 All-Sun Belt Conference selections, seven Sun Belt All-Tournament selections, 21 NSCAA All-Region Scholar-Athletes, three NSCAA All-Region selections and one Freshman All-America selection.
The Jaguars twice carried the Sun Belt’s top GPA (2003 and 2004), and Varga’s teams earned the NSCAA’s National Team Academic Award ten times.
Varga’s success wasn’t limited to South Alabama. He started the women’s soccer program at Division II Lincoln Memorial (Tenn.) University and had the Railsplitters in the NCAA Division II top-20 within five seasons.
During his time at LMU, Varga compiled a 65-25-7 overall record and led the squad to a pair of Gulf South Conference titles in 1996 and 1997. His team’s combined record in 1996 and 1997 was 34-5-3 and the Gulf South Conference crowns were the school’s first in any sport. His 1998 squad achieved a national top-10 ranking, the program’s first.
Varga also coached the men’s team at Lincoln Memorial, winning 50 matches, helping that team to a GSC title in 1998 and developing 10 All-Conference performers.
Varga graduated from Ashland (Ohio) University in 1990 with a degree in criminal justice and philosophy. He was a four-year starter and three-year captain for the Eagles, and graduated as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 52 goals.
Varga has also been active with the Olympic Development Program in Tennessee, Alabama and North Carolina. He is also an associate national staff member for the National Soccer Coaches of America.