PHOTO BY JOSH ROTTMAN

Taylor Cummings, a three-time Tewaaraton winner out of Maryland, was an All-World gold medalist at the 2017 FIL Women's World Cup.

'The Time Is Now:' A Roundtable with Cummings, McCool, Ohlmiller and Tumolo


What started as a joke became a premonition.

Kylie Ohlmiller’s friends didn’t believe she would actually publish the words in the senior goodbye section of their Islip High School Class of 2014 yearbook.

“Watch me,” she said.

Sure enough, when the yearbook came out, there they were.

“See you on ESPN.”

Two years later, as a sophomore for the fast-rising Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team, Ohlmiller made good on that promise with an appearance on “SportsCenter” for a diving behind-the-back goal in an April 2016 game against Johns Hopkins.

“She’s the best player on the planet, period,” Seawolves coach Joe Spallina said then. “Case closed.”

It was the first of four — count ’em, four — times Ohlmiller landed on ESPN’s flagship program over the course of a college career that also saw her surpass the great Jen Adams as the NCAA’s all-time scoring leader.

And while Ohlmiller became known as the queen of the BTB, she identifies most with the acronym DTD.

Dare to dream.

“A lot of the things I’m going to promote to young girls and make them realize is hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,” Ohlmiller said.

After graduating from Stony Brook as a two-time Tewaaraton finalist and being selected No. 1 overall in both the UWLX and WPLL drafts, opting to play in the latter, Ohlmiller inked an endorsement deal with Brine/New Balance. She and Marie McCool are the new faces of the brand — joining the likes of Taylor Cummings (Under Armour), Kayla Treanor (Nike) and Michelle Tumolo (STX), among others, who hope to usher in an era of unprecedented exposure for the women’s game.

“The time is now,” Ohlmiller said. “It’s such a trending sport right now.”

Cummings, McCool, Ohlmiller and Tumolo took time out of their busy schedules for a roundtable discussion on the state of the women’s game and its future.


“The time is now. [Lacrosse is] such a trending sport right now.” — Kylie Ohlmiller


How has the women’s game changed with recent rule changes like the shot clock and free movement?

Taylor Cummings: We’re keeping the integrity of women’s lacrosse, but also continuing to push the boundaries. We want to play fast, too. We want to play more aggressive. We can do this and still have incredible stick work and finesse.

Marie McCool: Also the new stick rules — the stringing allows us to be more creative with our sticks and do different things that allow younger girls to look up to us and see all this creativity in the game.

Do you hear concerns about women’s lacrosse becoming more like men’s lacrosse?

MM: Something I like to hear is they are now taking something from our game with the shot clock. They saw how it worked for us and how much more fun it was to watch.

Kylie Ohlmiller: I think we can both learn a little bit from each other’s game. That’s what I learned under Spallina.

The women’s game is also at the vanguard of the Olympic movement, adjusting to 10 players a side at the IWGA World Games in 2017. How are the women leading the way?

TC: I love the fact that we’re starting to modernize the rules with the world system. There were less people on the field, so there was more room to do things on offense. Defenders got to push the ball more. It shows flexibility with the rules committee to stay up to date and continue to push and grow. It’s only going to help continue to make it not just a huge sport in the U.S., but also globally.

Michelle Tumolo: Thinking about us being in the Olympics down the road is huge. We were trailblazers for that movement. We can say that over the men, which is awesome. We have the right people in the right places now to get us there.

TC: The Olympics is that ultimate, “OK, we made it.” LA 2028 is the goal for lacrosse. That might be out of my timeframe for playing — I’ll be 34 — but I think about it constantly when I teach my kids in fifth and sixth grade. I get chills thinking about it. “I can watch you play in the Olympics.”








When did women’s lacrosse become so progressive?

MM: In high school, I didn’t get a chance to watch games online. When I did get to college, the ACC Network, Big Ten Network and ESPN started [covering women’s lacrosse]. Every game was online. We have seen a progression with that. We want younger girls to be able to watch us, dream big and be like us one day.

TC: The coaches of the last 10-15 years should be getting a ton of credit for continuing to push the rules committee to change the rules on the field. And the players and coaches now in the past 5-10 years have really been pushing for this equality of our sport to be visible on ESPN.

KO: Another aspect that’s been huge over the last couple of years is that all little girls and little boys have social media now. That’s a platform where we can branch out. They can see us at all times. 

What role does social media play in growing the game?

TC: I’m not someone who likes to barter back and forth on Twitter. I like Instagram. I can say what I need to say, and it’s a deeper look into our lives.

MT: I even learn from you guys and see what you’re doing. I think it’s pretty cool, just the exposure you guys are getting. Taylor’s verified. That’s freaking awesome. Kylie, you’ll definitely get there. I don’t think you’re there yet, right?

KO: No. No, I’m definitely not.

MT: Oh, you will! Instagram is the biggest thing for young kids now, especially with Stories.

TC: Twitter is more of a forum discussion. Especially now that LaxPower is gone, I think more people will be going to Twitter, personally. 

KO: I see the dirt on Twitter. Instagram is more a live look on people’s lives and what you want people to actually see.

PHOTO BY RISLEY SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

Michelle Tumolo, endorsed by STX, plays professionally for the UWLX's Philadelphia Force while also coaching lacrosse at the NCAA Division I level at Wagner.

How do you leverage your brand to grow the game?

MM: It’s important to grow the game outside of the East Coast, giving girls access.

MT: Coaching at Oregon opened my eyes to how hungry the West Coast is.

TC: We all have different areas we touch, but we’re all in it together. It’s a really cool thing to watch Tumi go from Oregon to Wagner, coast to coast. It’s awesome to watch Marie have photo shoots at the US Lacrosse headquarters and do camps and clinics with T3 Lacrosse yesterday. (I’m not stalking. I saw.) And Kylie just had her first clinic for her business. Such a huge moment.

KO: We’re all working toward the same goal — to get more exposure for the game and to get more girls to pick up a stick instead of a soccer ball, to open their eyes to how incredible this game is and what opportunities it has given all of us.

What roles do your sponsors play?

TC: All three companies are dedicated to putting women’s lacrosse on the map, trying to come up with the next big thing. Competition will only make the sport better. There’s business and money involved in those companies, but at the same time, they all want what’s best for the sport.

MT: I’ve been with STX for a bit now. I was at the final four with a little kid who won [a contest] to sit with me for a half, which was awesome. They’re big on player-fan experience.




PHOTO BY BRIAN SCHNEIDER

Marie McCool was at US Lacrosse headquarters for a photo and video shoot Sept. 5. Check out Brine Lacrosse on YouTube for more on the new Dynasty Warp Pro.


How do each of your time commitments vary?

TC: I teach a P.E. class [in addition to coaching] at McDonogh (Md.). On weekends, I do a ton of camps and clinics. I’m always traveling. Then you factor in the WPLL and USA and Under Armour commitments — we all have a different taste of a busy life, but a fun one we’re very lucky to be a part of.

MT: I always told myself I was never going to be a head coach and now look where I am. I was nervous about the responsibilities, but Wagner is where my heart belongs. Being a college coach is definitely demanding. Even when I get a day off, I’m still worried about things that are going to happen to my players. So I just try to find the time to have the life balance.

Does being a college coach affect the time you can commit to your brand?

MT: I chose to be a lacrosse coach at the college level and that’s what best fits me. It’s awesome what they’re doing, because it’s basically their full-time job. I respect that because it’s a lot of freaking work.

KO: I’m definitely learning that.

MT: You’ll do great! You just had your first clinic, right Ky?

KO: Yeah, yesterday, 

MT: Congrats, buddy. I’m proud.

KO: Thank you. It was exciting. 

MT: Don’t be alarmed if I just show up and I’m in one of your lines doing your ladder workouts. 

KO: I might be more star-struck than the other kids, but whatever. 

Will lacrosse ever have a million-dollar woman?

MM: One day.

KO: One day, definitely, yeah.

MT: I’m counting on you guys!

PHOTO COURTESY OF KYLIE OHLMILLER

Kylie Ohlmiller, a two-time Tewaaraton finalist and Brine/New Balance signee who broke NCAA scoring records at Stony Brook, hosted her first clinic for her business, KO17 Lacrosse, on Sept. 9.