The Essential Taylor Cummings

Taylor Cummings’ closet tour reveals a hoard of athletic and casual footwear piled on the floor — boots, heels, flip-flops, sandals and running shoes. So many running shoes. What you won’t find in the YouTube video are the tap shoes she wore as a freshman at McDonogh School in Owings Mills, Maryland, back in 2009.

Cummings could glide like a gazelle in cleats, tearing through the grass in pursuit of the ball without missing a step. But award-winning choreographer Ilona Kessell’s tap class presented an entirely different challenge. Her feet stopped working. She could not stay on beat, messing up her classmates who tried to keep up by watching her.

You could hardly blame them. By then, Cummings had already developed a reputation as the next big thing in lacrosse.

Kessell was unimpressed, however. She moved Cummings to the back of the class.

“I wasn’t great at it,” Cummings said.

Dancing never was Cummings’ strong suit. Her mother, Carol, laughs when recalling her daughter’s failed ballet experiment. She was only marginally more successful as an ice skater.

“I remember really liking the challenge of ice skating,” Cummings said. “It was really hard, which I enjoyed. The part I didn’t enjoy is that I was alone while doing it.”

Twelve years later, the best women’s lacrosse player on the planet still prefers the shared experience of team sports. But as the only three-time Tewaaraton Award winner and the inaugural Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse champion, Cummings, 27, keeps reminding us she’s in a class of her own.

Peel back enough layers and you’ll discover in Cummings a series of contradictions — a ruthless competitor but fiercely loyal friend; a confident athlete who privately struggled with an eating disorder in college; an obsessive planner and organizer who stows her stuff in junk drawers.

A generational lacrosse talent often singled out for recognition when she would prefer the spotlight shine elsewhere.

“This is not a medal for me,” Cummings said Aug. 22 after finishing first on the leaderboard at Maureen Hendricks Field in Boyds, Maryland, site of the five-week Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse season in which 56 players competed for an individual statistical championship. “This is a medal for all of us for taking this sport to the next level.”

“She knows where the bar is set, and I can’t imagine what it’s like for perfection to be the bar.”

— Michael Cummings

Just follow Cummings on Instagram to see how much she loves exercise. Working out is her release, if not her religion. A daunting six-mile run, a muscle-popping ab circuit, an oxygen-emptying sprint circuit — these are the few times during the day when Cummings can live inside her own head. She lets the podcasts or country music playing in her ears drown out thoughts of the hectic day of calls, private lessons and practices ahead.

Cummings combines natural athletic ability with an intensity few, if any, can match. When she’s on a lacrosse field, her game face doesn’t come off. Opposing players experience her relentless nature firsthand. It’s best just to get out of her way.

“You watch her compete and my God, she’s a badass,” said Cathy Reese, her coach at Maryland from 2013-16. “When competition sets in and it’s game time, you know you’re going to get everything she has. If she’s feeling 80 percent, you’re going to get 100 percent of that 80 percent.”

Cummings expects perfection. Her lacrosse career comes rather close. She lost just one game in high school — her freshman season coincided with the start of McDonogh’s historic 198-game winning streak — and four games in college. She won two NCAA championships at Maryland and a world championship with the U.S. national team, with eyes on another gold medal next summer when USA Lacrosse hosts the World Lacrosse Women’s World Championship in Towson, Maryland.

“She knows where the bar is set, and I can’t imagine what it’s like for perfection to be the bar,” said Michael Cummings, her father.

Team sports became Cummings’ life when her family moved from Richmond, Virginia, to Ellicott City, Maryland. She started with basketball and soccer — two sports she’d play through high school — before finding lacrosse and honing her skills under Scott Robinson, her coach with M&D Lax whom she credits for her rise in the sport.

Cummings took over as the head coach at McDonogh after the streak ended in 2018. She also remains the only employee of Taylor Cummings Lacrosse, a company she founded that offers private instruction nationwide.

Corinne Etchison is often in awe of everything her best friend has accomplished and how she remains grounded.

“She’s humble about every accolade,” said Etchison, the former Georgetown attacker who played with Cummings at McDonogh. “People can mistake someone who succeeds a lot to be cocky or overconfident, but she’s so humble. It’s never about her. It’s a bigger award. It’s a bigger group of people. It’s never about her.”

Cummings’ brief but powerful remarks as she accepted the individual champion’s gold medal during closing ceremonies of the Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse season only reinforced that notion. She delivered just those two sentences before thanking everyone and stepping aside.

Cummings speaks bluntly (a family trait) and skips past pleasantries. It catches her off guard, however, when people say she’s unapproachable.

“I have been told by some that when they finally meet me, I’m nicer than what they expected,” Cummings said. “To people who only know me from the lacrosse field, I am intense and I am competitive. I want to win.”

“A lot of people just see Taylor on gameday,” said Greg Danseglio, her fiancé. “That’s a different Taylor than you see the other six days of the week.”

Cummings and Danseglio met in April 2015. Danseglio redshirted that season after transferring to Maryland from Virginia. He and his housemates got a dog, Xena, a black lab mix who loves belly rubs and attention. She’s gentle and affectionate, now with strokes of gray in her snout.

Xena came into Cummings’ life before Danseglio did. She’d dogsit Xena while the Maryland men’s lacrosse team went off to play, but it was one of his housemates who’d drop her off. 

Not long after, Cummings and Danseglio met at a social gathering. After six years together, they got engaged in January.

A lap dog if ever one existed, Xena is often at the center of Cummings’ downtime. The couple takes her on walks or hikes through the Liberty Reservoir near their Eldersburg home in Maryland’s Carroll County. If Cummings needs to escape from the outside world, she’ll sink herself into a good book — “The Guest List” by Lucy Foley, a true crime thriller, was a recent read — and a cup of coffee on the porch. During the COVID-19 shutdown, she read three or four books per week, ranging from non-fiction books about athletes to the occasional romantic novel.

Danseglio is the salt to Cummings’ pepper. He’s a bit more spontaneous than her, perfectly OK with unplugging to relax. She prefers to remain busy and calls herself a homebody. When she spent five weeks away for the Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse season, Danseglio did his best to keep family email chains going so she could get a touch of home.

“If she sits around, she feels like she hasn’t done anything,” said Kelsey Cummings, her younger sister and former Maryland teammate. “Greg’s the opposite. Greg and my dad and I, when we go on vacation, we do not move. Taylor and my mom have to go off and do things.”

Danseglio, who played lacrosse at Virginia and Maryland and won a gold medal with the 2012 U.S. U19 team, fits right in with his soon-to-be in-laws. They poke fun at each other, sparing no one. Cummings dishes jokes just as well as she takes them.

“We mock because we love,” Danseglio said. “That’s just what we do. No one gets away with anything. It’s always someone’s turn.”

Kelsey Cummings enjoys sitting on the couch across from Danseglio and her sister as they riff back and forth. “Both of them together is hilarious,” she said.

And when they play cards, Cummings won’t quit until she gets a win — her way of fueling that competitive hunger while also taking the time to clear her head.

“The best thing I’ve been able to do is compartmentalize it,” Cummings said. “Sometimes I’ll get hyper-competitive in a game of cornhole, but I’ve been able to compartmentalize when I want to compete and win for real or when I just want to compete and have fun.”

People don’t see this side of Cummings. An athlete of her magnitude who is always on as the exemplar for the younger generation — a role she doesn’t take lightly with more than 60,000 social media followers — can’t keep up the intensity 24 hours a day. Her friends and family help lighten the mood. And when Cummings calls you a friend, you’re a friend for life.

“Loyal is a great word for her,” Reese said. “She’s passionate about what she does, and she loves the people she does it with. These are people who know her as more than just a lacrosse player.”

Cummings often reaches out first if a friend has a problem. During her early-morning workouts with U.S. national team strength and conditioning coach Jay Dyer, the conversations often shift from diet and exercise to personal life.

“Once you establish that trust factor, you realize you can lighten up a little bit and crack jokes and talk more personal stuff,” Dyer said. “She’s interested in you as a person. When she asks how you’re doing or how your weekend was, it’s not an empty question.”

Cummings seeks to include everybody and get to know everyone. Those around her call her “genuine.”

“Her actions on the field, her personal interactions, she’s somebody who projects this aura of, ‘I want to follow that person. If I do, she won’t lead me astray,’” Dyer said.

Perhaps that’s why her voice holds so much weight. Cummings is usually the first — and loudest — to call out inequities in TV coverage or facilities when it comes to women’s lacrosse. She also uses her platform as a college women’s lacrosse analyst and professional athlete to promote body positivity.

Cummings developed an eating disorder during the fall of her junior year at Maryland, overcoming what she called on Instagram “a painful cycle of undereating and over-exercising.” She worked out multiple times per day but ate only enough to keep her from passing out.

“While I was going through it, I was definitely hiding it,” Cummings said. “I was not proud to talk about it. The farther removed I get, the more I see the need for young girls to have visible role models who have gone through what they’re going through.”

“She’s the leader in our sport right now,” Reese said. “She’s the leader of this generation of women’s lacrosse, and she represents us well.”


Xena, Taylor Cummings' and Greg Danseglio's dog, is a source of joy in their lives.

“Unfinished” and “disorganized” are not words you might typically associate with Cummings. She decorates her home meticulously. Her planner details the many goals she intends to accomplish each day. Her teams finish business on the field. She’s also sharp as a tack and can remember the smallest of details.

“My sister is the one with the memory, and I think I was born in fifth grade,” Kelsey Cummings said. “She can remember the layout of our first house in Richmond. She was like 3.”

She gets it from her mother, who helped place the many knickknacks and tchotchkes that make the inside of Cummings and Danseglio’s home warm and inviting.

“My mom’s the team mom for everything,” Kelsey Cummings said. “She’s the most organized human being I know. As much as Taylor won’t admit it, she’s turning into my mother, in that aspect.”

But the well-put-together person who thoughtfully answers questions from media and neatly pens her signature for young fans also has an affinity for junk drawers — a place where one can find batteries, pens, instruction manuals for your last three microwaves and sets of keys you never knew you had.

“She is very organized,” Danseglio said. “She likes to have everything planned out. I’m more flexible. We both have our spots where we’re pretty particular, but also spots where we’re not. 

“She likes to have junk drawers. I can’t stand junk drawers.”

The basement is the one thing left unfinished. Cummings and Danseglio moved into their four-bedroom house in September 2020, and the drywall and electric were already completed. But it’s a shell of its potential.

There is, of course, already a workout room with a treadmill, rowing machine and light free weights. There’s plenty of space for other things, like a wet bar. The plumbing’s in place. But nothing’s finalized. At least not yet.

First up is preparation for the World Lacrosse Women’s World Championship in July. USA Lacrosse is hosting the event in Towson, Maryland. Then there’s the wedding to organize. After that, the couple will focus on the spacious area beneath the couch above where they sit and laugh and crack jokes, unwinding after another long day.

“It’s going to be a nice TV den down there,” Danseglio said. “I’m probably not the right person to ask about it. I haven’t been too involved in the planning. I know Taylor has a vision for it. I’ve seen the plan. I think I’m good with it.” 

This article appears in the November edition of USA Lacrosse Magazine. Join our momentum.