Tatro named Director of Athletics; Abaray takes on new role in President's Office

headshots Kim Tatro and Christyn Abaray
Kim Tatro, left, has been named Lawrence's Director of Athletics as Christyn Abaray moves to the President's Office.

APPLETON, Wis. -- The Lawrence University Department of Athletics is set to take on a new look but with a familiar face.

Longtime softball coach and Associate Director of Athletics Kim Tatro has been named director of athletics. Current Director of Athletics Christyn Abaray is moving to the office of Lawrence President Mark Burstein to assume her new role as Assistant to the President and Secretary to the Board of Trustees.

"I would like to thank Christyn Abaray and President Mark Burstein," Tatro said. "I'm certainly grateful for the opportunity. We have a tremendous staff of dedicated professionals that are all driven to provide our student-athletes with a high-quality experience. Our goals will be to continue to build on the positive momentum and success that Christyn has established with that mission in mind."

Tatro is no stranger to the director of athletics role. She served as Lawrence's director of athletics from 2002-05 and again for the 2008-09 academic year. Tatro has been a part of Lawrence's athletic administration for the past 19 years.

"Promoting Kim into the director of athletics role was the natural and optimal decision for us," Abaray said. "Her years of experience as a head coach and athletics administrator, including as the athletics director, has honed her ability to think critically on multiple levels when decision-making. I depended on her."

One of Tatro's first tasks will be to name her successor as head softball coach. The new coach will be the third in 37-year history of the program.

Tatro has been a major figure on the NCAA Division III softball scene. The native of Naperville, Ill., is currently in her second year as the chair of the NCAA Division III Softball Championships committee. This is the second time Tatro has served as chair of the national committee and has been on the committee for 11 years over two separate stints. She also has served as chair of the Midwest Conference softball coaches and has worked on various league committees over the past three decades.

A 2014 inductee into Lawrence's Intercollegiate Athletic Hall of Fame, Tatro has been part of the coaching staff since 1993. She began as the volleyball coach in 1993 and coached that sport for eight seasons. Tatro picked up 91 victories and continues to hold the best winning percentage in school history.

Tatro's tenure as softball coach spanned 27 seasons from 1994 to 2020. She racked up 424 wins and her combined total of 515 career victories is easily the most for any coach in Lawrence history. Under Tatro's direction, Lawrence won Midwest Conference championships in 1997, 1998 and 1999 and made appearances in the NCAA Division III Tournament in 1998 and 1999. She has been named Midwest Conference Coach of the Year eight times (2015, 2013, 2011, 2006, 2002, 1999, 1998, 1997).

In Tatro's time as softball coach, the Vikings won the Midwest Conference North Division seven times (2015, 2005, 2003, 2002, 1999, 1998, 1997) and qualified for the four-team Midwest Conference Tournament 11 times.

"Stepping away from softball is the difficult part of this decision," Tatro said. "Lawrence softball has been a part of my life for 27 years. I have so much passion and admiration for the players, both past and present, and what they have meant to my life. That certainly won't change."

The director of athletics since April 2016, Abaray had taken on the added roles of Assistant to the President in 2018 and Secretary to the Board of Trustees in 2019. Jacob Woodford, a 2013 Lawrence graduate, had been serving in that capacity but left Lawrence when he was elected mayor of Appleton earlier this month.

Lawrence's Department of Athletics has undergone a transformation during Abaray's four years at the helm. The Vikings are adding a new varsity sport, women's ice hockey, in the fall, and the coaching staff has grown with the addition of full-time personnel for football and fencing.

The Department of Athletics physical plant has undergone extensive improvements as well under Abaray. A new, much larger press box became the finishing touch on the renovated Ron Roberts Field at the Banta Bowl, and venerable Alexander Gymnasium is going through a transformation this summer with new bleachers, a stunning basketball/volleyball court makeover and a spectacular new look for the lobby and Lawrence Hall of Fame. Improvements to the Whiting Field complex that houses track and field, softball and baseball also have taken place in recent years.

"Athletics at Lawrence has a storied history. I am thankful for my time leading the Vikings, moving us forward even a little bit," Abaray said. "I look forward to continuing my work with athletics and seeing the hard work of the department pay off. Go Vikes!"