Where are they now? Kelsie Hollabaugh
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
ARGOS –- Argos has won three girls basketball sectionals, two regionals and one semistate in their history.
Only two people can say they are affiliated with all of those teams: Eugene Snyder is one. Kelsie Hollabaugh is the other.
Snyder was an assistant coach on the 2006 regional championship team, the 2016 Class 1A state runner-up team and the 2017 sectional championship team. He represented the history of Argos sports in general and Argos girls basketball in particular.
But it’s Hollabaugh, a 2009 Argos grad, who seemingly grew up with the program. Argos got to be good before she arrived, but it went to the next level after she arrived.
Standing at 5-4, the agile Hollabaugh was a fresh-faced freshman perimeter shooter on the 2006 team supporting stars like Amberly O’Dell and Desiree Gilbert.
Then her role evolved after O’Dell and Gilbert graduated, and she became a lead guard, capable of both scoring and setting up her teammates.
She finished with 1,332 career points.
Hollabaugh credits former Argos coach and Indiana Basketball Hall of Famer Shelly Newell for developing her as a player and overseeing the program’s rise.
“I think she is probably the history,” Hollabaugh said of Newell’s historical role in Argos girls basketball. “I mean, Mr. Snyder is the top dog, but I think she’s a close second because without her work and building the program to where it was, when we left, I don’t know if the success happens afterwards.”
Argos went from nine wins to 17 to 18 in the three years before Hollabaugh arrived. They went to 22 wins and a trip to semistate in 2006.
Argos had lost to South Central (Union Mills) on Mallory Gorski’s halfcourt shot at the buzzer in the 2005 sectional final and then lost again 62-47 in the second game of the 2005-06 regular season.
But in the rematch, Argos beat the Lady Satellites 79-73 in a fast-paced sectional final in which O’Dell and Hollabaugh combined for 50 points.
“That was a wild time,” Hollabaugh recalled. “It’s funny because after 15 years, whatever it’s been, I can still have those memories of hitting a 3 here or there or doing whatever, but the pressure honestly wasn’t on us at that time because we weren’t supposed to win sectional. So once we got past that obstacle, it was all fun after that.”
Argos beat Tri-County 66-54 and Morgan Township 50-41 in the regional the following Saturday. The season ended with a loss to eventual Class 1A state champ Lafayette Central Catholic in the semistate at Plymouth.
Argos then went 17-4 in 2007 with O’Dell, Gilbert and Hollabaugh all back. Three of their losses were to eventual state champ Oregon-Davis, including one in the sectional.
Hollabaugh said Newell trusted her players.
“I think what she did best was had faith in us,” Newell said. “She let us coach out on the floor. She always had a coach on the floor, and I think that’s huge.”
Hollabaugh graduated as Argos’ No. 2 all-time scorer behind only O’Dell. Courtney Dunlap, a 2017 grad, has since surpassed both. O’Dell finished with 1,510 points, and Gilbert added 1,130.
“They were awesome,” Hollabaugh said of O’Dell and Gilbert. “They were great teammates. It didn't matter that I was a freshman. They took me under their wing, so they had my back no matter what.”
Hollabaugh became the floor general as a junior, and Argos went 13-7 and 16-4 in her final two prep seasons, both of which also ended in losses to Oregon-Davis in the sectional.
Hollabaugh said that Newell inspired her to get into coaching.
“Absolutely she did,” Hollabaugh said. “She’s probably the main reason why I went into teaching too. … Just her ability to connect with kids. And that’s what I pride myself in as a teacher. So when I built that relationship with her throughout high school, I thought I want to do that for kids too. I want to be that person looks up to.”
Hollabaugh was back at Argos in June as part of a team of alumni scrimmaging against the current Lady Dragons to help them prepare for the upcoming season. She also participated in an alumni game against the current team at Phil Weybright Gymnasium on July 8.
“Well, it wasn’t awful, but I’m definitely out of shape,” Hollabaugh said with a laugh after the alumni game. “My defense and blocking up and can definitely improve until next year.”
Despite her basketball credentials, it might not have been her best sport.
She scored 29 goals as a junior and 34 goals as a senior in soccer and graduated as Argos’ all-time leading scorer. She also led the Lady Dragons to a sectional title as a junior in the fall of 2007.
She later attended IUPUI, where she played soccer, but she eventually got a bachelor’s degree at Valparaiso University in health and physical education.
Newell stepped down from coaching just as Hollabaugh graduated in 2009.
Hollabaugh was back at Argos in 2010, first working with the fifth and sixth-graders while also coaching 10-and-under soccer and even 12-and-under softball, all while pursuing her degree.
In 2012, Argos hired Gary Teel as girls basketball coach to replace then-coach Nick Medich, and Hollabaugh was elevated to the high school staff.
“He’s awesome,” Hollabaugh said of Teel. “He’s similar to Newell in the sense that … he’ll let the game flow and let the girls play, but he was a great practice coach too. He always had a plan. They were very specific. I think that stuff screams we’re-ready-to-play and we’re-ready-to-win.”
Hollabaugh also taught and coached at Culver and Plymouth high schools.
Hollabaugh said she has moved to Indianapolis within the last month. She got a job teaching eighth grade wellness at Clark-Pleasant Middle School in Whiteland. She also said she has been offered and accepted the seventh grade girls basketball coaching job there.
“Trying to spread my wings a little bit, maybe get away from the hometown for a few years here,” Hollabaugh said. “I’m not getting any younger. I might as well do it now while I still have the energy to live in Indianapolis.”