July 13, 2000
Vol. 19 No. 19

current issue
archive / search

    University appoints three new coaches

    Jennifer Leovy
    News Office

    The University has recently made three new coaching appointments in the Physical Education & Athletics Department. Natalie Butler will serve as the new head men’s and women’s tennis coach; Jennifer Kroll will serve as the new head women’s basketball coach; and Ruth Kmak will serve as the new head softball coach.

    Butler comes to Chicago from Bryn Mawr College, where she coached women’s tennis and badminton since 1996. Prior to her stint at Bryn Mawr, Butler worked for the United States Tennis Association as the Middle States Section’s junior-player development and minority participation coordinator.

    “Natalie’s experience as a highly competitive player at several levels, as an administrator in the USTA and as a head coach at an academically selective college all make her a wonderful fit for the University‚s tennis program,” said Tom Weingartner, Associate Professor and Chairman of Physical Education & Athletics.

    “Chicago’s student-athletes can be nationally competitive in tennis as we have seen with former coach Bill Simms’ recent success. I look forward to working with Natalie in achieving the academic distinction Chicago athletes have always maintained as well as excellence on the tennis courts.”

    Butler enjoyed a successful collegiate playing career at the University of Michigan from 1985 to 1988. After completing her eligibility at Michigan, she pursued a professional playing career, but was sidelined by a knee injury. She began playing competitive tennis at age 9 and went on to earn district, sectional and national rankings throughout her junior career. Butler, who received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Michigan in 1990, is currently pursuing a master’s degree in sports management from Temple University.

    She replaces Bill Simms, who retired after the 1999-2000 season. Simms began his career at Chicago in 1967 and served as head tennis coach for both the men‚s and women’s teams from 1979 to 2000.

    Kmak, who served as interim head softball coach at the University in 1996, has been appointed head softball coach. During that interim period, Kmak guided the Maroons to the University Athletic Association title and a 13-18 overall mark.

    During the 1999 season, Kmak was an assistant coach at Loyola University, Chicago, a position she also held from 1992 to 1995. From 1996 to 1998, she served as an assistant coach at Ball State University.

    Both Loyola and Ball State won their respective conference championships during Kmak’s tenure at those institutions.

    “We are very familiar with Ruth‚s many talents as a coach and an instructor,” said Weingartner.

    “Since 1996, when she served as our interim coach, she has gone on to serve as a highly successful assistant coach at two Division I programs. Her commitment to the balance struck between competition and education has always been in concert with our own, so I am pleased to welcome her back. I look forward to working with her to continue the excellence our softball program has achieved these past few years in going to the NCAA tournament and setting records for the number of wins in a season.”

    Kmak is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English and theology in 1992.

    Kmak replaces Cara Hirsch, who served as interim head coach during the 2000 campaign.

    Chicago made its first-ever NCAA Division III postseason appearance this past season, posting a 25-14-1 overall record. The Maroons have recorded three consecutive 20-win campaigns.

    Kroll comes to Chicago from Ithaca College, where she served as head women‚s basketball coach during the 1999-2000 season.

    Prior to her coaching career at Ithaca, she served as an assistant coach at Cornell University from 1995 to 1999 and at the University of Kentucky from 1992 to 1994.

    This past season, Kroll guided Ithaca to a 21-7 mark and the New York State Women’s Collegiate Athletic Association championship, the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference-Upstate New York championship and a share of the Empire Eight Conference title.

    Following the season, she was named the Empire Eight Conference Coach of the Year.

    “I am delighted that Jen is joining the University faculty and the strong women’s basketball tradition that has been established here over the last two decades,” said Weingartner.

    “In addition to her wealth of experience as a player at Northwestern University and as a coach at Cornell University and Ithaca College, she brings to Chicago a tremendous record of success at academically selective institutions. I have no doubt her demonstrated coaching abilities combined with our women‚s basketball tradition will enable her to achieve both academic and competitive success at Chicago. She is the perfect match for Chicago’s women’s basketball program at this time.ּ

    Kroll enjoyed a successful collegiate playing career at Northwestern University from 1987 to 1991. During her career, she played in two NCAA Division I tournaments (1990, 1991) and was a member of the Wildcats’ Big Ten Conference championship team in 1990.

    She received a bachelor’s degree in organizational studies from Northwestern University in 1991 and a master’s degree in sports management in 1995 from the University of Kentucky.

    Kroll replaces Susan Zawacki, who compiled a record of 93-83 from 1993 to 2000.

    Zawacki led the Maroons to the NCAA Division III tournament in the 1994-95 season.