UIC Athletic Director Jim Schmidt announced the hiring of Lynn Curylo (kur-ILL-oh) as head coach of the Flames' softball team on Monday, July 18, pending Board of Trustees approval. Curylo, a proud UIC alumna, will be the seventh head coach in program history dating back to the start of the Division I era in 1981.
"I am extremely excited to be back where my decision to become a coach was made, where I played college ball, and where I earned my degree," said Curylo. "This is home for me!
"While it saddens me to leave Wright State, the student-athletes, and staff members that had become family, I am honored and thankful for the opportunity Jim Schmidt, Tonya McGowan, and the UIC administration has given me," said Curylo. "I look forward to leading a program that has a history of winning that started with Hall of Fame coach Mike McGovern and coach Terri Sullivan. That winning tradition continued with Michelle Venturella."
As a UIC student-athlete, Curylo starred as an outfielder from 1994-97. She was a member of the Hall of Fame 1994 squad that posted 56 victories and made it all the way to Oklahoma City with the program's sole Women's College World Series berth. All told, she was an integral part of 201 victories over four years and the Flames won nearly 73 percent of the time they took the field during that era. Curylo and her UIC teammates posted an eye-popping 58-3 mark in conference play while winning one Mid-Continent Conference championship (1994) and two Midwestern Collegiate Conference (MCC) crowns (1996 & 1997), which is now the Horizon League.
Individually, Curylo's name remains prominently dotted throughout the UIC record book today. She was a two-time All-MCC First Team selection as an outfielder, earning back-to-back recognitions in 1996 and 1997. She played in all 80 of the team's games in 1997, which ties Curylo for eighth on the program's single-season list. She hit 12 triples in four seasons for the Flames, good for sixth on the all-time list. Half of those three-base hits (6) came in 1996, placing her tied for seventh on that single-season chart.
"Bringing Lynn back to UIC was a priority," said Schmidt. "She is a rising star who has proven she can lead a program. Lynn played for a great coach at UIC in Mike McGovern at the beginning of a run of excellence that is unparalleled in our history. Her work with Coach Terri Sullivan at Illinois added to her skillset.
"Lynn Curylo has great energy and is the ultimate competitor," said Schmidt. "UIC alumni, fans and our excellent group of returning players won't find a more dedicated FLAME than Lynn."
"Of the many special student-athletes I have had the privilege of coaching, as well as the talented people I have met in college athletics, Lynn is as competitive, driven, and hard-working as any of them," said former UIC assistant coach and the architect of the University of Illinois' softball program, Terri Sullivan. "Because of such qualities, she excels at helping student-athletes realize their own potential in all areas of their lives. Lynn personally thrives on the opportunity to be challenged to be at her best, so no one ever out-worked her as a player, and no one will as a coach!"
Curylo comes to UIC with a strong familiarity of the Horizon League. For the last six seasons, Curylo has served as the head coach of the Wright State Raiders. Since 2011, she was at the helm for 147 victories including 77 in Horizon League play. No other head softball coach in WSU history won more conference games than Curylo. The Raiders won 18 Horizon League games in 2016, the most in one season by any group on the diamond. The team's 37 total victories also marked the best single-season output in program history.
In each of the last two seasons, the native Chicagoan positioned Wright State within one win of an NCAA Tournament berth by reaching the championship of the Horizon League Tournament. During her tenure five Raiders earned All-Horizon League First Team recognition, while 14 student-athletes received Second Team nods.
"Having seen the Flames up close recently, I am well aware of the talented student-athletes that make up the current roster," said Curylo. "I look forward to meeting the group, to assembling a staff, and to continuing a tradition of graduating student-athletes who will make all those that have graduated before them, and the University of Illinois at Chicago proud!"
Prior to her arrival in Dayton, Ohio, Curylo worked for two years as an assistant coach at the University of Illinois. The Fighting Illini went 74-25 during her time in Champaign from 2009-10, and the club won 28 Big Ten games. In Curylo's second season, Illinois won 45 games overall while posting a 16-2 mark in conference play. That group finished second at the NCAA Columbia Regional.
Curylo's first stint as a collegiate coach came when she worked as an assistant coach at Tennessee State from 2007-08. She helped make an immediate impact on that program as the Tigers won 35 games en route to the first winning season in program history.
She cut her coaching teeth at the high school level as the head coach at Milikan High School in Long Beach, Calif., from 2001-06. Curylo was named the Coach of the Year in 2005 after the Rams won the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) championship.
Curylo, who was born and raised a Cubs fan on Chicago's northwest side, graduated from UIC in 1998 with a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. Prior to her matriculation she attended Resurrection College Prep High School in the city's Norwood Park neighborhood. In 2015 she was inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame.