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Team USA's Taylor Cummings challenges with Canada's Taylor Gait (L) and Kay Morissett during the World Cup Final at the 2017 FIL Rathbones Women's Lacrosse World Cup, at Surrey Sports Park, Guildford, Surrey, UK, 22nd July 2017.

Above and Beyond: Taylor Cummings Helps Raise the Bar for Women’s Lacrosse

Editor’s note: Our chat with Taylor Cummings is sponsored by SISU Guard, official mouthguard of Team USA. LaxAllStars is proud to be working with SISU and US Lacrosse to cover Team USA any way possible!

There’s really no one to fairly compare Taylor Cummings to. She became unarguably one of the most accomplished NCAA athletes through her four years in College Park with the Terps. Yet, her achievements and contributions to lacrosse didn’t stop at graduation. Taylor has made a name for herself as the best at what she does by surrounding herself with greatness and never slowing down.

She is the only, male or female, recipient to capture the game’s prestigious Tewaaraton Trophy three times, after her sophomore, junior, and senior seasons. All four years at Maryland, Cummings helped lead her team to the National Championship game, winning the title in back-to-back seasons (’13 & ’14). She’s been nominated for multiple ESPYs, has been named the best lacrosse player in the conference and country on numerous occasions, while becoming the all-time draw control leader at Maryland (509) and for caused turnovers in a season (52 in ’16).

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Where many careers ultimately have ended, at the end of their NCAA career, Taylor kept going for more. Unlike many women before her, she had the opportunity to play professionally right out of college, a quite recent addition to the landscape. Continuing to push herself for greatness, Cummings now has a yearly goal to work toward through a professional championship, while waiting for the World Cup to roll around every four years.

USA's taylor Cummings runs towards Welsh traffic at the 2017 FIL Rathbones Women's Lacrosse World Cup, at Surrey Sports Park, Guildford, Surrey, UK, 18th July 2017.
Photo: Ady Kerry / England Lacrosse

That’s just another level where she shines. Joining the US Senior Women’s roster to prepare for the 2017 FIL Rathbones Women’s Lacrosse World Cup, Taylor quickly made her presence known as one of the field generals of the group. By the time the games rolled in over the summer, she was a force to be reckoned with.

While in England, Taylor notched 9 goals and 7 assists offensively, while her main focus was on securing draw wins. Winning around 65% of her 91 draws in England, she helped Team USA capture their 8th-ever, 3rd-straight gold medal, through an undefeated run through the competition.

So what’s left to do? Well, by keeping up with @taylorcummings_ on social media, you can tell she’s been traveling non-stop to help #GrowTheGame. She’s built up her own brand, Taylor Cummings Lacrosse, and uses it as a platform to educate and empower young athletes to follow in her footsteps. She’s also not ready to hang up the cleats, which is why she threw her name in the ring for the new women’s pro league, the WPLL. Drafted 8th-overall, Taylor was the second-round pick for the New York Fight, the first midfielder selected after defender and fellow Team USA athlete Alice Mercer was picked up first.

It’s refreshing to have an athlete like Taylor Cummings in the lacrosse community. She’s contiuning to redefine what a pro lacrosse player should be and she’s working around the clock to push the boundaries. I have no idea how she find the hours in the day. When I reached out to Taylor for a quick interview, I had everything I needed within a half hour of asking if she wouldn’t mind answering a couple questions.

That’s a leader to me. Someone who uses their voice to make positive impact and is ready to go above and beyond when called upon.

USA's Taylor Cummings celebrates with scorer Kayla Treanor at the 2017 FIL Rathbones Women's Lacrosse World Cup, at Surrey Sports Park, Guildford, Surrey, UK, 18th July 2017.
Photo: Ady Kerry / England Lacrosse

Interview with Taylor Cummings

We’ve noticed you been busy traveling, playing, even launching your own brand, and on the go seemingly non-stop since wrapping up at Maryland. Can you tell us what’s going on with Taylor Cummings Lacrosse, how it’s going and what are some of your major goals?

Ever since graduation, things have been nonstop for me. I launched my own company, Taylor Cummings Lacrosse (TCL) that is focused on providing clinics and camps in locations all over the country. I run it by myself and do all of the administrative work myself (with the exception of my friends who are awesome camp counselors and weekend employees), so that requires a lot of time and a ton of traveling, too.

With 2018 comes a whole new list of goals and ideas for my company (still in the works!), so be on the lookout for new events next year. I’m looking to expand into larger events and have plans to work with other USA stars this upcoming summer.

That’s awesome! As a player you’re a two-time National Champion, the only female three-time Tewaaraton winner, and an international gold medal winner. Do you feel that there’s a lot left for you to accomplish on the field and if so, what are you focused on next?

While my teammates and I have accomplished a ton in the last few years, I definitely feel there’s always room to grow and goals to strive for.

We’re starting a new professional league this summer, the WPLL, and my goal is to win a championship with my new team, the NY Fight. Even though we haven’t met as a team yet, I know that’s the mindset of each player on our team.

Individually, I just want to continue to get better and improve each day. There’s no room for complacency at this level – if you are complacent, someone working just as hard to get what you have is right there and ready to take it.

USA's Taylor Cummings breaks out against Wales at the 2017 FIL Rathbones Women's Lacrosse World Cup, at Surrey Sports Park, Guildford, Surrey, UK, 18th July 2017.
Photo: Ady Kerry / England Lacrosse

We know the Team USA athletes had to sit out a summer from professional lacrosse to compete in the World Cup. What do you expect to see in the women’s pro landscape that’s different from the last time you competed and what are some of your hopes for the future of the game?

I’m so incredibly excited to have the opportunity to play in the WPLL with some of my former Terps teammates and USA teammates, as well as with opponents I’ve played against for so long. The WPLL is about more than just the current professional players – it’s about growing the next generation of pros and helping current pros in their professional lives, too.

The message of the WPLL is very in sync with the message of my own brand, so it makes so much sense to align with them. I’m hoping that the game of women’s lacrosse (as well as men’s) will be an Olympic sport come 2028. Even if I can’t play in the games, being able to watch women’s lacrosse on the world’s largest international athletic stage is something we’re all striving for.

The level of play and speed of the game has drastically improved in recent years. What we saw from Team USA over the summer was jaw-dropping. What’s the next step for women’s lacrosse and what do you think will push the boundaries next?

I think the changing of these rules will definitely continue to speed up the game, while also allowing women’s lacrosse to stay true to its game.

Having two point lines, allowing a little more physicality and creating room for creativity will make viewers want to watch women’s lacrosse, which in turn will help it get on the international stage.

Women’s lacrosse sticks have often been an afterthought over the years, taking a back seat to the men’s game. Now with girls allowed to experiment with mesh, new head shapes hitting the market, and more and more players putting focus into their pockets, how do you see the changing landscape effecting level of play and do you think having modified stick specifications can help draw in new players and retain them?

Personally, I don’t think women’s lacrosse is an afterthought anymore. I think we have developed our own style of play, both in the US and internationally, and have just come off a summer where we completely dominated on the world stage, proving that women’s lacrosse is here to stay.

With that said, I think changing the stringing is an interesting addition to the game, making it somewhat simpler for refs and players alike, but not one that will change the entire landscape. I think one of the frustrations with women’s lacrosse is all of the whistles and stoppages of play, so making the stringing specifications a little simpler will definitely help with that in my opinion.

Mesh will be good for the draw controls and for beginners, but I don’t know if I see it making a huge impact in the sport the way that some do today.

Rathbones Philip Howell presents the medals to the USA 2017 FIL Rathbones Women's Lacrosse World Cup, at Surrey Sports Park, Guildford, Surrey, UK, 22nd July 2017.
Photo: Ady Kerry / England Lacrosse

Follow up to the stick question, how does the stick you’re using now compare to what you used in high school and what has changed that allowed you to add to your game personally?

Honestly, I play with a factory made and strung stick pretty much.

That’s the way I played while I was at Maryland and I’ve essentially stuck with that mindset at US and in the pros, too. I’ve never been one to use a draw stick, so the one I take the draw with is the one I play with on field, too.

I will alternate between the UA Regime or UA Honor (internationally) and always have the Rail Elite pocket in my sticks. I think the sticks in general have become a lot more technologically advanced and allow for us to play with a little more creativity.

They hold more in our sweet spot and allow us to play with a little more of a pocket, allowing for some whip and the ability to shoot at lower angles.

If you could personally make a change to the rulebooks, what do you think the game needs to help it grow or be more enjoyable?

I think I would change the draw rules themselves similar to the men’s side. If a player false starts three times, it’s an automatic yellow and the other team gets possession.

I think there’s too much leeway with centers at the draw and players are allowed to false start/adjust positioning countless times, essentially slowing up the game. I think if there was some type of “punishment” for false starts or adjusting after the ball is set, players wouldn’t do it and the game would speed up.

Gussie Johns(L) and Taylor Cummings(R) celebrate at the 2017 FIL Rathbones Women's Lacrosse World Cup at Surrey Sports Park, Guilford, Surrey, UK, 15th July 2017
Photo: Adam Scott / England Lacrosse

From Gussie Johns: If you had to change your name, what would your new name be, and why would you choose that name?

That’s a really tough one. I think I would want to be named after my parents somehow. They’re two of the most important people in my life and have made everything I’ve accomplished possible, so I think it would be cool to be named after them.

I don’t know know how you’d make Michael and Carol into a girl’s name, but that’s what I’d like…

Marol? Carchael? Anyway… Please name one Team USA athlete we should interview…

Alex Aust

What is the first question we should ask her?

What’s your favorite pregame food and drink?

Thanks for your time, Taylor!

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