After a year as an assistant coach at McDonogh, Taylor Cummings has been named the Eagles’ girls lacrosse head coach.
Cummings, who played at McDonogh and went on to win three Tewaaraton Awards at Maryland, said she wasn’t sure she would want the head position when she joined the staff as an assistant in January. As the season went on, she grew certain.
“I was just like. ‘I’m going to see how the year goes, not put my name in [the search pool]. I just want to see what it’s like, get my feet wet,’” Cummings said. “I obviously loved it. I loved the kids. I loved the parents. I loved being back home and being at a place that had shaped me so much as a player and a person. I enjoyed every aspect of it. … It just all made sense. When they asked me again later in the season whether I wanted to put my name in to be the head coach, it was a very easy decision.”
To McDonogh officials, she was the obvious choice for the job when interim coach Nancy Love decided to step away after the season.
“Taylor has a presence that is palpable,” McDonogh co-athletic director Mickey Deegan said. “She knows what she’s doing. She has the respect of the girls on the team. They look up to her. She’s very knowledgeable about the game and passionate. She has an eye for the game and how to make adjustments and she commands. We want somebody that has that confidence to lead a varsity program like what we have here at McDonogh.”
Deegan said the search committee voted unanimously for Cummings.
Her appointment was announced in a letter sent to McDonogh girls lacrosse families Tuesday afternoon and when the team met to hear the decision, Deegan said, there was a roar of approval from the approximately 50 girls in the room.
Love, who had been an assistant coach for 13 years, took over the program on an interim basis after Chris Robinson left in January. She inherited a program with 177 straight wins and guided it through plenty of uncertainty to reach the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference final, escaping a few close calls along the way. Their loss to Notre Dame Prep in the title game ended the streak at 198.
When she met with the players Tuesday, Cummings told them they were in a unique situation. They still want to win, but the pressure is off and they don’t have to feel “they’re fighting the history books a little bit.”
“I told them, ‘You’re going to a storied program. You’re going to a place that has a ton of culture and tradition and winning and excellence, and you now get to have a fresh start. It’s a clean slate. You get to write your own chapter,’ and I think for these kids who have been in that pressure cooker for so long, they’re excited about that.”
In the letter Tuesday, Deegan and co-athletic director Matt Mullan thanked Love for providing the bridge the Eagles needed this past season.
“We will be forever grateful to Nancy for her time, expertise, and love for the team. We know the girls will always remember how she made them feel — valued, important, and proud to be a part of a special legacy,” they wrote.
Cummings, a 2012 McDonogh graduate who was coached by Love, agreed.
“Nancy did an amazing job, not only this year stepping into a role that was so, so difficult just in the timing alone. I think she handled it with such class and grace. She was awesome all year and has been such an impeccable and incredible part of McDonogh lacrosse as a whole,” she said.
Cummings, who will begin teaching physical education at the Owings Mills school in the fall, said she is happy to continue to coach with assistants Mary Beth Todd, who also played for the Eagles and at Delaware, and Eva Winiarski, who played at Drexel. Todd is also head of the McDonogh physical education department, and Winiarski teaches in the middle school.
As a midfielder at McDonogh, Cummings was a two-time All-Metro Player of the Year and a two-time Baltimore Sun Female Athlete of the Year. A 2012 graduate, she led the Eagles to the first four of their nine straight IAAM A Conference championships.
She led Maryland to two national championships and played for the U.S. team that won the World Cup last summer.
An Under Armour sponsored athlete, she runs her own business, Taylor Cummings Lacrosse, conducting clinics around the country. She is also regional director for the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League Futures.