Michelle Tumolo Leaves Lasting Impact on Women's Lacrosse

Michelle Tumolo has established herself as one of the best women’s lacrosse players in the history of the game — with a combination of creativity, vision and a drive to make her teammates succeed seldom experienced in the game.

Over the course of the past decade, Tumolo has helped elevate the women’s lacrosse game to new heights. The former Syracuse star turned U.S. women’s national team gold medalist has made a lasting impact on the sport that she found as a teenager in Mullica Hill, N.J., and that impact will continue long after her playing career.

Tumolo announced her retirement from the U.S. team Thursday, sharing the news on Instagram and thanking fans, friends and teammates for helping her throughout her 10-year career.



A post shared by Michelle Tumolo (@mtumolo35)

“I’m starting a new journey with Army, and I want to give everything I can to them every single weekend,” Tumolo told USA Lacrosse Magazine. “I’m just in a different place than I was a couple years ago. I’m kind of at peace with my career, and I’m at peace with what I’ve done.”

Although Tumolo did not rule out competing in Athletes Unlimited for its 2022 season, the announcement closes the book on an illustrious career for one of the most memorable players in program history.

Tumolo played lacrosse the same way she lives her life — unapologetic and uncompromisingly true to herself. In doing so, she created an environment both within the National Team program and in the lacrosse community that inspired her teammates and those that looked up to her to be confident in themselves.

“She’s already taken the women’s game and made it more entertaining and fun to watch,” said U.S. team veteran Kristen Carr. “That’s not going to stop just because she’s not in the U.S uniform anymore. Her footprints at still within the program. The fact that you can look around the field and see Tumi even though she’s not physically there, that’s special. That’s the legacy she’s left with each and every one of us.”

“She’s already taken the women’s game and made it more entertaining and fun to watch.”

— Kristen Carr

The lefty attacker stood out among her peers in college lacrosse, starring for four seasons at Syracuse. She set the freshman scoring record in 2010 with 37 goals and 37 assists. In total, she tallied 278 points while leading the Orange offense, helping Gary Gait’s team advance to the NCAA championship game in 2012.

Before she stepped foot on the field with the U.S. in 2011, she had become one of the brightest stars in the history of Syracuse lacrosse. Her fearless style of play inspired a generation of lacrosse players, including future Syracuse star Kayla Treanor.

“Michelle Tumolo was Syracuse lacrosse to me,” Treanor said. “She was flashy and exciting and brilliant with her stick. Your jaw was on the floor watching her play. I had never seen someone play like that before. I was in awe of her.”

Tumolo competed for two years with the U.S. team ahead of the 2013 Women’s World Cup in Oshawa, Canada. There, she got a chance to compete with the players she grew up idolizing — names like Lindsey Munday, Katie Rowan, Katrina Dowd, Kristen Kjellman and Acacia Walker. She said that core group helped establish the foundation for her love of lacrosse, which continued long after she graduated from Syracuse.

However, Tumolo’s passion and commitment to the game were soon tested. In April of 2013, she tore her ACL in a matchup against Cornell during her senior season at Syracuse — an injury that caused her to miss the 2013 Women’s World Cup and a chance at a gold medal.

“I always think about my injury and how it showed a resilience that I probably hadn't really had in my life,” she said. “I didn't have injuries before and I hadn’t had anything crazy happen to me. An injury, as an athlete, takes some identity away from you and I had never had that. I was really proud of myself, how I battled back but I wouldn't have been able to do it without my teammates and my coaches and my training staff that created that positive environment for me.”

Tumolo had unfinished business with the U.S. team on the field, but off of it, she spent time empowering her teammates to achieve their goals. At the same time, she used her growing platform to speak on her identity as a gay women’s lacrosse player and encourage others in the game to have the courage to be themselves.

As her coaching career began, first at Syracuse and then at Florida before moving to Oregon, Tumolo had her sights set on making the 2017 U.S. team heading to the World Cup in England.

After a grueling tryout process, Tumolo was standing on the practice field at Oregon when she got the call from coach Ricky Fried.

“I was at the 30-yard mark on a field, that's how memorable it was,” she joked. “I knew how I felt in 2013, so I kind of was ready for anything. When I answered the phone, he was happy to say that I made the team. It was an incredible feeling. Playing for your country and putting on the red, white and blue is the higher honor.”

Tumolo made the trip to Guildford, England to play for her first gold medal in the summer of 2017. She brought her world-class stick skills, her creativity and energy unmatched in program history. Before each game of the World Cup, sounds of Tumolo singing bounced off the walls of the U.S. locker room.

The go-to pre-game song was “Come on Over” by Christina Aguilera, but she also mixed in the national anthem.

“She would belt out any song that popped into her head," Carr joked.

On the field, she was just as impactful. Tumolo finished the gold-medal run for the U.S. with 12 goals and 17 assists — good for the seventh-best total in a single tournament. She followed the World Cup with another strong performance en route to the U.S. team’s gold medal in lacrosse’s first-ever World Games competition.

The star of the U.S.’s double-gold performance? Kayla Treanor, the player who idolized Tumolo as an incoming Syracuse recruit and who got to play alongside her both in the Carrier Dome and with the national team.

“She’s the best teammate I’ve ever had,” Treanor said. “She’s the most selfless, caring, thoughtful person that I’ve ever met. You read books all the time about great coaches and how to develop great players and what it takes to create a good culture. She is the dream. She is what everyone wants. She is the ‘it’ factor. She would do anything for a teammate.”

Since the 2017 World Cup, Tumolo has continued to blaze a trail in professional lacrosse, playing in the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League in 2018 and 2019 before making the transition to Athletes Unlimited this summer.

Tumolo said she may make another run at Athletes Unlimited in 2022, but she’s happy with her career regardless of how it ends. She’s settled into her new endeavor as head coach at Army and a new life with her wife, Lara, and their dog, Flanny.

The impact Tumolo has had on women’s lacrosse won’t soon be forgotten. Just ask her fellow world-class teammates.

“Tumi is someone I looked up to as a younger player and to have been able to play with her and learn from her over the years has been a true privilege,” said U.S. teammate Taylor Cummings. “Her energy, positive spirit, and passion for the game and her teammates will be missed tremendously, but I know she will continue to do amazing things for our sport and all those who meet her.”

“The fun part about being on a team is being surrounded by all these women that are badasses on the field, but so genuine and love to have a good time,” Carr said. “That’s what Tumi brings.”