Former college athletes make history 

Kirkwood Community College inducted its third class at the Athletic Hall of Fame Dinner on Feb. 9. This year the winners were Vicki Ellison, volleyball, Kylee (Knop) Vargason, softball, and the 1998 Kirkwood Men’s Basketball Team.  

The idea for the Hall of Fame was in the works for a long time but is now off the ground and running. “When I became the Athletic Director in ‘06, it was something that I wanted to, at some point, get off the ground,” said Athletic Director Doug Wagemester. 

With some delays due to Covid, the Hall of Fame officially kicked off in 2022. “It’s always very enjoyable and rewarding to see former student-athletes and coaches come back and share their story and interact with others,” said Wagemester. 

At the presentation, Ellison said, “I’m privileged to share this moment with Carol Board and Shirley Ryan, who were both instrumental in shaping my love for the game.”

She added, “Their dedication and love laid the foundation for my future in this sport.” 

Vargason and members of the men’s basketball team also spoke at the event.

Kirkwood’s athletic website describes the criteria for inductees as former intercollegiate student-athletes and other personnel who have distinguished themselves as players, coaches or contributors. 

Ellison was a member of Kirkwood’s first volleyball team where she played from 1996-1998. While at Kirkwood, she was selected as an All-American multiple times, was a member of the 1997 NJCAA Championship All-Tournament Team and holds the college record for overall kill percentage. Ellison went on to play volleyball for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. 

Vargason played for Kirkwood’s softball team from 2008-2010. Vargason was a multiple time All-American while playing for the Eagles. 

She sustained a pitching record of 47-9, giving her the fourth most wins in Kirkwood’s record book, and struck out 282 batters, which is the ninth most for any Kirkwood pitcher. Vargason went on to play at USC-Aiken and Upper Iowa University. She later returned to Kirkwood as an assistant coach from 2013-2015, coaching four All-Americans in that time. 

The 1998 Kirkwood Men’s Basketball Team were the NJCAA Division II National Champions. Under Head Coach Chris Jans, they boasted a record of 31-6.  

Each Hall of Famer received a commemorative statue at the event. They will also be added to the Hall of Fame wall and their accomplishments will be added to the video library that houses the History of Kirkwood Athletics.