By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Kylie Ohlmiller, as she grew up, got to play in one of the lacrosse hotbeds in the country. She played lacrosse in Long Island, New York. Long Island, New York; Baltimore, Maryland; Washington, D.C; Boston, Mass.; and the Philadelphia area are considered the hotbeds for lacrosse.
“Playing at Islip was amazing, as I lived only two steps from the high school,” she said. “I got to play really close to home. I got to play for my hometown, which was really cool. I got to make a lot of friends growing up. That was the biggest part, as I got to play with them. A lot of my teammates actually played travel lacrosse with me. Lacrosse gave me a lot of opportunities to make friends — many life-long friends. Playing at Islip was a stepping stone for me.”
As she was looking at schools, she did not want to go to an institution that was far away from home. She admitted that she was not heavily recruited due to an injury that happened early in her high school journey.
Ohlmiller elected to attend Stony Brook University after the going through the recruiting process.
“I was talking to a couple of schools and suffered an injury during my ninth-grade year, so the big year for college recruitment between ninth and tenth grade, I definitely wasn’t at my best that summer,” she said. “I wasn’t being heavily recruited, but coach [Joe] Spallina saw something in me during a tournament. They sought after me hard, and then I began to talk to them about going there. Coach Spallina pained my dreams in front of me.
“He put them right there on the table, as he said we’re going to make you a star and the face of Long Island lacrosse. He said we’re going to get you on the front of magazines. He said everything I wanted to hear, and I bought into their vision. I was going to work towards it and believe in it.”
Throughout her four-years with the Seawolves, Ohlmiller received numerous awards. She also became the first player in Stony Brook and America East history to receive an invitation to attend the Tewaaraton Award ceremony as one of five finalists.
“It was an incredible honor to have my name up there with the greats of lacrosse,” she said. I got to represent Stony Brook and the America East. I got to represent them in a way they’ve never been represented before. That made it pretty special to me. It was an honor and a privilege to be there.”
Like any athlete, Ohlmiller credits her teammates with her success at Stony Brook.
“It was amazing to be so successful, but at the same time, down the line, what I’m going to mostly remember from my college lacrosse experience was the friendships that I made and the success we had as a team. No team at Stony Brook had ever been ranked No. 1 in the country before, and we did that. When I came in as a freshman, we were ranked No. 70, so going through the four-years and eventually make it to No. 1 in my senior year, it was a special ride, as we had a lot of belief in each other. Those are the things that’ll be the most memorable for me.”
The Seawolves finished the 2018 season with a 20-1 record. They started the season with a 20-game win streak, before losing to No. 4 Boston College Eagles, 12-11, in the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals on May 19th.
“It was really important for us to leave our mark,” Ohlmiller said. “The only way for us to do that was to show the younger kinds on our team is the leadership that we’d strive to have at Stony Brook. I want them to play hard for the girl next to them. We want to leave that legacy, so next year, when the seniors come in, they can talk about our success and the culture that we left behind. That was our biggest thing, as we wanted to leave an imprint in their minds so that they could do it moving forward.”
Following her senior season, Ohlmiller participated the IWLCA Senior All-Star Game in Sparks, Maryland. She was one of 132 athletes to participate in the Division I, Division II, and the Division III All-Star games at the US Lacrosse headquarters in June.
“I got to go down to USA Lacrosse headquarters and I got to meet girls from all over the country,” she said. “There was a lot of Division I, Division II, and Division III players there, so the night before there was a dinner and we got to socialize with each other. It was cool to play with some of the girls, who I previously played against in my college career. It was cool to see that there was a good showing in Maryland for that game. It was a really cool experience.”
Ohlmiller also got to train with the players of Team USA, as she attempted to make the roster.
“It’s a huge honor to be able to make that training team,” she said. “Just to be able to play alongside the girls that I have looked up to made me star-struck. It was a really cool experience and it made me a better player. That was the ultimate dream and it’s the greatest thing in sports. It was a privilege to just put on that jersey. That’s an experience I will never forget. I’m very grateful.”
Following the completion of her college career, she had a decision to make. In May, she was chosen as the No. 1 overall pick in the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League, who had its inaugural season in 2018, by the New York Fight. She also signed an endorsement deal with Brine.
“It was really surprising to be the No. 1 overall pick,” she said. “It was a huge honor, as I’m really privileged that the people, who were a part of that pick, saw something in me that they would draft me with that pick. It’s really cool to be able to have that opportunity to keep playing. This is giving me an opportunity to continue to play my lacrosse career. Going into college, the biggest thing was college lacrosse was the highest level that you could play at. Having a professional league to be able to show younger girls that there’s a level of talent that they could get to with professional lacrosse.
“I think it’s really cook and it’s amazing to have that opportunity now. Hopefully, this will show the younger generation that they could potentially reach this level.”
She chose to play in the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League over the United Women’s Lacrosse League. The UWLL was founded in 2015 and its inaugural season in 2016. In December 2017, she was also the No. 1 overall pick in that league by the Boston Storm.
“I got drafted in both leagues, but it was a decision that I had to make,” Ohlmiller said. “At the end of my career at Stony Brook, I knew I had to pick a league to play in. This WPLL opportunity has made me excited to be a part of. Their game plan is what I like the most about it. They have future events and they are into the future of the sport. They are making sure we’re connected to the next generation, the younger players. We got to interconnect with these girls and show them that their dreams came come true, as they can become professional athletes in the sport of lacrosse. That was a big factor in me picking the WPLL. I really like what they’re all about.”
Instead of playing at stadiums, the WPLL has geared their events mostly around girls showcase tournaments. The league also held games with hosts by Major Lacrosse League teams.
“I think it’s a really great point that they’re doing,” she said. “It’s amazing to be around these lacrosse tournaments. When we were younger, we went to lacrosse tournaments with all these girls were the biggest tournaments of the summer for us when we were growing up. Now, while they’re playing, they get to see what their future is about in the sport of lacrosse and be able to meet their role models. They get to see how fast the game is played at the highest level. I think it adds an extra element to those tournaments. It also shows them that their dreams can come true by being a professional lacrosse player.”
Ohlmiller and the Fight’s inaugural season came to an end in the semifinals. They lost to the Baltimore Brave at Ferrell Stadium in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
“My whole life I’ve been able to pretty much be able to play for a home team,” Ohlmiller said. “I went from my high school team to the Long Island Yellow Jackets to Stony Brook. Then, to be able to be drafted by the New York team, I get to play for New York, which is like a home team. I’m really excited to represent the place that I’m from. I also get to do it alongside some of the best players in the game. I’m playing with women, who have done amazing things in lacrosse.”