WEST POINT – Michelle Tumolo’s opportunity to coach women’s army lacrosse was too good to pass up, but she isn’t quite ready to give up her career as a star player just yet.
This week, West Point announced that Tumolo will replace program creator Kristen Skiera, who accepted the head coach position at Virginia Tech earlier this month. Tumolo, 30, has been with the United States Women’s National Team since 2011 and is set to embark on another professional summer with the new league Athletes Unlimited.
When she told Army Athletic Director Mike Buddie that she wanted to play at least one more season, he gave his blessing.
“He said, ‘It’s great for us, it’s great for recruiting,” Tumolo said. “It’s cool that I’m still able to play because I can also go back to my team and jump in. the exercises.”
This is exactly what his former Syracuse University coach Gary Gait used to do with his Orange teams from 2010 to 2013. Gait is widely regarded as one of the greatest lacrosse players of all. times, and three weeks ago he moved from the Syracuse women’s team to the men’s team coach.
âI am grateful that they are supporting my career,â Tumolo said of his new bosses.
Tumolo has a pretty good resume. She became Syracuse’s fifth-highest goalscorer with 278 points. She played three times in the NCAA Final Four, reaching the 2012 title game; that same season, she was a finalist for the Tewaaraton Award (for the best varsity player of the year), the first All-American team and the national forward of the year. She played on the United States Championship team for the 2017 World Cup, scoring 12 goals and 17 assists and named to the All-World squad. She remains on the U.S. training camp roster for the 2022 World Cup.
Tumolo plays offense and compares his role to that of a quarterback, always thinking about the next game and connecting his teammates on the pitch.
âI think my playstyle is like an expression of my personality,â Tumolo said, âI just try to be creative and try to think outside the box, but also make good games and create bonding with his teammates. I’m just trying to make lacrosse a pretty thing to watch. Having fun with it is the most important thing. “
Even when she turned pro, Tumolo worked as a college assistant coach in Florida (2014-15), Syracuse (2016) and Oregon (2017-18) and head coach at Wagner (2019-21). Tumolo helped his teams set new offensive records and guided Wagner to 29 wins and the 2019 Northeastern Conference Championship in his rookie season as head coach.
“Michelle is one of a kind,” said former varsity teammate Kayla Treanor, who has just been named Syracuse’s female coach. âShe is competitive, loyal, creative and hardworking. You won’t find a coach who cares more about his players, his staff and the community where he coaches. ”
âMichelle is a proven winner as a player and in her tenure as head coach,â said Army men’s coach Joe Alberici. “During the early stages of the research process, it became clear that his energy and passion will help build on the solid foundation of (our) program.”
Tumolo said she was happy to coach at Wagner, then she was recruited by West Point and was influenced by the Academy’s mission.
âI am so excited and grateful for this opportunity,â she said. âI don’t think there’s a perfect time (to go), where you can’t really plan for life. The last three years at Wagner have been incredibleâ¦ I had no plans to leave at all. I was really, really honored to be contacted by the military. Sometimes life comes to you quickly and opportunities present themselves to you; some that you can certainly pass on, but this one I certainly couldn’t. ”
She is resuming an Army program that went 5-4 overall and 5-2 in the Patriot League. The Black Knights have trained 13 players, including all-time leading scorer Jackie Brattan.
“I know the players in the current roster are going to step up and I’m delighted to get to know them more, but also the incoming freshmen,” said Tumolo. “I think they are very keen to take the plunge, and I can’t wait to be the person to lead them in that direction.”
A native of New Jersey, Tumolo is thrilled to be training so close to home and his family. She said it’s important to stay up to date in the game, constantly learning and consulting with friends and mentors in the business.
âI bring a fun, energetic yet creative training style to a program,â she said. âI’m always ready to learn new styles of play, attacking and defending every time I go out on the pitch. So I just use all of that to bring back to my schedule because I want to be the best for them and I will always give them my best. ”
Skiera upgraded the fledgling program from club status to college in 2016. Over six seasons, Skiera guided Army to an overall record of 46-40 and a score of 15-27 in the Patriot League. She ended her tenure with four consecutive winning seasons and winning league points in 2019 and 2021. (The 2020 Patriot season has been canceled due to COVID.)