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Army's Brigid Duffy.

Weekly Cover: Brigid Duffy, West Point's Two-Sport Wonder

March 13, 2024
Beth Ann Mayer
Dustin Satloff / Army Athletics

As a teenager, Brigid Duffy excelled in soccer, hockey and lacrosse. Her parents, Tim and Gretchen, always asked, “Which is your favorite?”

Like many teenagers, Duffy liked giving her parents answers that left more questions.

“The problem was that whatever sport she was playing was the one she loved,” Gretchen Duffy said. “We’d ask her, ‘What is your favorite sport?’ And she’d be like, ‘I don’t know.’ That was kind of hard for us. ‘You’re going to have to pick. You can’t play them all.’”

All, no. Two? Yes.

A second-year midfielder for the up-and-coming Army women’s lacrosse team and a member of the 2024 U.S. Women’s U20 Training Team, Duffy was the nation’s top-scoring freshman (56) and broke the Black Knights’ single-season points record (82) as Army made its first-ever Patriot League title game and NCAA tournament appearance last year.

That was after playing in 20 matches as a freshman midfielder for the Black Knights’ women’s soccer team. She hit the pitch again as a sophomore this fall and was the top goal scorer for another Army team that made the Patriot League finals. Her two worlds collided Oct. 13-14 in Maryland, when she played for 82 minutes in the Black Knights’ 2-1 win at rival Navy just 24 hours after she scored three goals in the U.S. U20 women’s 16-9 victory over Canada at the USA Lacrosse Fall Classic.

Duffy is doing all this while juggling the rigors of a West Point curriculum that prepares cadets for future military service. If that sounds like a lot, it is. Yet those who see Duffy in action say there’s no one better to manage the load.

“She has this God-given talent of athletic ability on top of an incredibly intelligent brain and an athlete’s mindset and work ethic,” said Army women’s lacrosse coach Michelle Tumolo, an assistant for the U20 team.

Army soccer's Brigid Duffy.
Twenty-four hours after scoring three goals in a U.S. U20 win over Canada, Duffy played all 82 minutes in the Army-Navy soccer game.
Army Athletics

Duffy’s athletic journey began at age 6 when she started kicking a soccer ball on the West Point campus, where she lived. Her father worked there as a podiatrist. Her mother, who ran cross country at Army, knew the campus well and was a volunteer assistant coach for her alma mater. They lived on post, often having athletes over for family dinners.

“Growing up on West Point is unreal,” Gretchen Duffy said. “You look at the calendar, and it’s like, ‘Should we go to a volleyball game? Judo match?’ We’d throw the kids in the stroller and run around post.”

Duffy always had a teammate. Her family could nearly field an entire soccer or lacrosse starting lineup. She’s the second oldest of 10 children and the oldest girl. “Sometimes, I was called the second mother,” she said. “I was always babysitting and playing sports with all my siblings.”

It was here that Duffy’s mental toughness and team-first spirit started to form — as did her diplomatic skills.

"Brigid was always the peacemaker,” Gretchen Duffy said.

Duffy’s athletic abilties were also clear early on. The  family moved to Germany when she was 7. She and her older brother, Brendan, who plays club hockey at Syracuse, went to a soccer camp. A coach approached their parents to let them know that their, “kid was really talented.” Brendan was older, so they assumed the coach was referring to him.

“We said, ‘Yeah, Brendan is a really good soccer player,’” Gretchen Duffy said. “And they were like, ‘No, Brigid.’ She was the younger one, second in the pecking order.”

Lacrosse had yet to take off in Germany. Duffy did attend a camp at age 10. When the family returned to the U.S., she continued both sports, enjoying her days on the lacrosse field with her sisters, Bayley, now 18 and committed to UMass as a goalie, and Kady, 16.

Duffy’s parents encouraged her to apply to a service academy, not specifying which one. Their new home in Queensbury, New York, was about two and a half hours from their old one in West Point. It had been more than 10 years since they lived on post.

“I didn’t know a lot about it even though I grew up there,” Duffy said. “I looked more into it during the recruiting process. I realized what it would do for a career to go through these hardships and I knew it would benefit me. Being able to play sports makes it a lot more fun.”

Gretchen Duffy knew West Point worked for her daughter’s personality. "She likes to be busy. That’s how West Point rolls,” she said. “You’re always doing something. They always have events.”

Oh, her coaches have noticed.

“That kid doesn’t want rest ever,” Tumolo said.

Michelle Tumolo.

That kid doesn’t want rest ever.

Michelle Tumolo

But Duffy didn’t commit to Tumolo. Army’s first head coach, Kristen Skiera, recruited her before leaving for Virginia Tech after the 2021 season.

“Our recruiting class was stuck in this weird spot,” Duffy said. “I wasn’t thinking I was going to get kicked off lacrosse, but I was exploring some other options.”

One of which was to play soccer instead. Duffy emailed Black Knights head coach Tracy Chao.

“I get this email, and it’s like, ‘How good could she be?’” Chao said. "We said, ‘Come to camp. We have to see you play.’”

Chao had to clear it with Tumolo, who came from Wagner in 2021 and had seen Duffy play lacrosse in high school.

“As soon as I saw Brigid, I texted Katrina [Dowd], ‘You are going to love this kid. You can tell she’s got it,’” Tumolo said.

Tumolo also played soccer in high school before starring in women’s lacrosse for Syracuse. She had always been interested in being a two-sport athlete but never pursued it. She wasn’t going to hold someone else back — invite her to camp and see what happens, Tumolo essentially encouraged Chao.

Duffy made a similar first impression on Chao.

“She had the ball and annihilated the midfield, just dribbling and taking on players, but in a way and at a pace where you realize that there is something different about her athleticism, her technical ability and tactical vision,” Chao said, later adding that the similar landscape of the lacrosse and soccer fields likely help Duffy with her vision.

At camp, a catchphrase was born — “Brigid doing Brigid things, it’s a common theme now,” Chao said — and so was a two-sport career.

Few schools carry the same weight as Army, which prepares cadets for military service. Basic training includes classes like military movement — “really intense gymnastics,” Chao explained — and survival swimming.

“It’s not the easiest task,” Duffy said of balancing those physical demands with that of her two sports and an academic workload. “But you are not alone in what you’re doing. Having other people beside you going through what you are going through helps.”

Duffy was additionally busy training with the U20 team. In late August, she started the Black Knights’ first two soccer games against UNC-Greensboro and Wake Forest  before jetting to Baltimore to participate in U.S. training camp. After competing at the Fall Classic in October, she drove to Annapolis. Miss the Black Knights’ star game against Navy? Not a chance. Duffy started the game, logging 82 minutes in Army’s 2-1 win.

“She’s just elite,” Tumolo said. “She was player of the game before heading down to help her team beat Navy in soccer. That’s Brigid.”

Army’s 2023 breakthrough has Duffy excited for the future. Duffy’s own future is quite bright. “The sky is the limit,” Tumolo said.

Though the service requirement is five years, Duffy hopes to put in 20. A life sciences major, she intends to apply for the West Point Pre-Medical School Scholarship Program, which accepts just two percent of applicants from each class. She wants to branch into the Med Corps and become an Army doctor.

Duffy’s original team has her back, of course. Not without some ribbing to keep her boots and cleats on the ground, however.

“It’s funny. When you go back to a large family, they quickly humble you,” Gretchen Duffy said. “We don’t let her get too high, but she also knows how proud we are of her. Soccer, lacrosse, military academy, her academics — we hope she learns and grows and becomes better every day.”

The mission appears well on its way to being accomplished.