'Good Isn't Good Enough' for Preseason Player of Year Kylie Ohlmiller

Among the 7,127 in attendance at the 2012 NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse championship at Stony Brook’s Kenneth P. LaValle stadium were two young sisters watching in awe as Northwestern earned its seventh national title with an 8-6 win over Syracuse.

The Ohlmiller sisters, 10th-grader Kylie and eighth-grader Taryn, who would soon play together at Islip (N.Y.) High School and later Stony Brook, took in the atmosphere – the packed stands, the deafening cheers and the sight of Katrina Dowd, a Northwestern alum and Kylie’s role model for her creative style of play.

Watching from her seat, Kylie Ohlmiller remembered the injury that sidelined her that high school season, which left her as one of the few without a college commitment. Yet the excitement on the field quickly brought her strength to recover ahead of an important summer, as she had hoped to get calls from the NCAA finalists.

“Watching those games gave me all the motivation in the world to get out there to play my best,” Kylie Ohlmiller said. “I remember looking up at the stadium and it being completely filled. I thought, ‘Wow. This would be a pretty cool place to play lacrosse out on that field in a national championship.’”

One of the first and one of the most consistent schools to pursue Ohlmiller was instead championship host Stony Brook, which will again host the final in 2018.

“I never really thought about Stony Brook until the chance came along,” Ohlmiller said. “I always had that motivation to get to the top. … [Seawolves coach Joe Spallina] took that potential that he’s always seen in me, painted out those dreams for me and just helped me and pushed me to reach those dreams.”

While she was the last player to get recruited from her Yellow Jackets club team, Spallina, who was hired ahead of the 2012 season, was happy to still have the opportunity to talk to her.

“I recruit a little differently than a lot of places,” Spallina said. “I don’t really want the finished product. I really enjoy the teaching part of the game and the evolution of an athlete. I just saw something in her. I saw a kid who was overlooked and really loved and had a passion for the game. … I told her the first time we met that she was going to be star.”

“The Michael Jordan factor, as I always say, is that player who is really good, but can they raise the level of everyone around them? ... When you look at what Kylie’s done, she gives every kid that hope." – Joe Spallina



Ohlmiller now enters her senior season after already establishing a record-breaking career.

As a freshman, she helped put Stony Brook on the map as the America East Rookie of the Year, tallying six points each in upset victories over then-ranked Florida and Northwestern during a “storybook year,” as she described it.

In 2016, she became an IWLCA second-team All-American, leading the Seawolves in assists (47) and ranking second in points (91). As just a sophomore, her high school yearbook prophecy – “See you on ESPN” – was fulfilled, making SportsCenter’s Top 10 in an April game against Johns Hopkins.

Then 2017 was a special year for Stony Brook’s No. 17. Ohlmiller was named the first Tewaaraton finalist in Stony Brook’s and America East’s history, earning first-team IWLCA All-American honors. She also broke the Division I single-season points record previously held by all-time great Jen Adams, who was the first recipient of the Tewaaraton Award in 2001.

Each year, Ohlmiller improved. And this year, her sister thinks she has nowhere to go but up.

“You think last year she had such a great year, so how could she top that?” Taryn Ohlmiller said. “But in my head, somehow, she’s going to top what she did last year.”

“She’s the best player on the planet, period. Case closed,” Spallina said. “I may be a little biased, but her body of work speaks for itself. She’s not a one-trick pony. The leadership of K.O. is unseen, but she gets it. She’s vested.”

Ohlmiller, Brine/US Lacrosse Magazine’s Preseason Player of the Year, is vested in “leading by example and not so much talking the talk, but walking the walk,” she said. “It would be silly for us not to say that our end goal is to be at Memorial Day weekend.”

With their personnel, says Spallina, championship weekend seems within reach, and according to Kylie Ohlmiller, Stony Brook has entered a new era.

“She knew coming to Stony Brook that Coach Spallina said it was more of a dream and not a reality,” Taryn Ohlmiller said. “Once she got here, she helped make it into a reality. … She wants to prove people wrong.”

Returning three 100-point scorers, including the Ohlmiller sisters and Courtney Murphy, the latter who broke the NCAA single-season goals record in 2016, the Seawolves now sit at No. 2 in the country in the Nike/US Lacrosse Division I Women's Preseason Top 20.

“Coach Spallina says all the time we went from being the 70th ranked team in the country to now No. 2,” Kylie Ohlmiller said. “It’s all in tribute to how we worked every day.”

Going from the bottom to the top is mantra well ingrained in Stony Brook players like Ohlmiller.

Realizing she lacked soccer skills, thanks to the honesty of her mother, Colette, who played the sport at Lynn University, led to a love of lacrosse.

Being the last to be recruited in high school led to being Stony Brook’s first Tewaaraton finalist thanks to the extra time she invested in improving.

According to her sister, Kylie Ohlmiller became the definition of a “lax rat.”

“Good isn’t good enough,” Ohlmiller said. “I just look to do extra in every way I can because it’s a way of life for me. If you’re just doing just enough, you’re not doing enough.”


"We get to play as Long Island's team," Kylie Ohlmiller said. "We get to be those role models ... for the little girls on Long Island who are looking for those role models right here at home."

Ohlmiller’s willingness to learn – even watching the men’s game, in which coach Spallina is heavily involved as the coach of MLL’s New York Lizards – proved to be beneficial. If you scrolled through her Instagram feed, you’ll find videos of Lizards attackman Rob Pannell and Charlotte Hounds attackmen Joey Sankey. Taking cues from their creativity and Dowd’s signature moves – plus her family’s love of surfing – led to numerous behind-the-back and #SCTop10-worthy plays.

“I love learning new ways to play the game because there’s so much creativity in the game,” Ohlmiller said. “I think that’s ultimately a tribute to it being the Creator’s Game. The people who play the game the most creatively come from that Native American background. That’s something I try to throw into my game.”



In 2018, Ohlmiller will continue her three-hour morning workouts with her sister, cut in line to get more reps in and meet with Spallina after every practice because “she’s in a lot of ways an assistant coach for me,” Spallina said.

She’ll come home for Sunday dinners with her family, who lives just 30 minutes South on Long Island, because it’s important to maintain that bond as “Long Island’s team,” Ohlmiller said.

She’ll also “go the extra mile,” says Taryn Ohlmiller, to sign autographs for the young fans in Kenneth P. LaValle stadium, where she once sat.

“That’s a huge part of why I play the game,” Ohlmiller said. “It’s for those little girls. I might not have been a little girl when I came to watch the national championship here at Stony Brook in 2012, but I was still looking up to those girls who were out on the field. It’s amazing to have the roles reversed.”

It was in 2012 that Kylie Ohlmiller received one of her most prized possessions – a picture she snapped with Dowd at the championship game.

Now, a picture with No. 17 could mean the world to another little girl.

“The Michael Jordan factor, as I always say, is that player who is really good, but can they raise the level of everyone around them?” Spallina said. “We don’t have any of the top 50 recruits in the country, so when you look at what Kylie’s done, she gives every kid that hope. … I have a fifth grade Yellow Jackets team and every single one of them think my girls walk on water and Kylie is Superwoman, so I’ve seen the immediate impact.”