Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments The risk of having to deal with the innocent jokes of her teammates was enough to keep Noemie Lefebvre from saying too much. She just didn’t feel her English was good enough. At least not yet. ‘A few girls that were with me my freshman year, they were making some funny jokes about me,’ Lefebvre said. ‘They thought I was a mute or something, I didn’t talk a lot.’ What a difference two years can make. The junior outside hitter from Quebec has found a way to be a quiet leader, and in the process she has become more than just a key component of Syracuse’s winning season — she leads the team in kills (275) and digs (224). Lefebvre no longer has to worry about listening to the jokes about her English, but instead provides the worry to opposing defenses every time she goes up to make a kill. First coming to Syracuse, everything was new to Lefebvre. The country. The people. The language. Everything. The French-speaking freshman was in a new environment. There wasn’t much time to adapt to her new life, having to learn how to balance classes with volleyball all at once.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text The language barrier remained her biggest challenge. In Quebec, she took English classes that served as her only exposure to the language. Not exactly enough to feel confident about moving to a new country. ‘It was just not my first language,’ Lefebvre said. ‘I didn’t start at the bottom, I had a good base. I had English classes just as much as (American students) take French classes. But how much do you remember from that?’ It wasn’t that she didn’t know the words or how to put together a clear sentence. It was that she thought in French, and often when she said something in English, it just didn’t come out the way she wanted it. That led to the comments by her teammates. But all that’s changed now. No more comments, no more having to worry about saying something wrong. The culture isn’t new anymore, and her role as a leader is defined. Lefebvre has gone from the quiet freshman to a go-to hitter on the court. ‘She can be your go-to hitter,’ Orange assistant coach Carol LaMarche said. ‘We can rely on a few people to get a point, but you know Noemie is going to keep the ball in play and get a kill most of the time.’ For the first time, Lefebvre said she came to Syracuse completely focused, knowing what her role would be in Syracuse’s offense. She’s got the language down and knows what Big East volleyball is all about. ‘After last year, the big difference was that I just felt more comfortable with the team,’ Lefebvre said. ‘I was really coming to Syracuse comfortable in the environment, ready to step up and contribute to the team.’ When Lefebvre makes a kill, it’s impossible to miss. Her jump and devastating smash have become synonymous with the Orange’s dominating season. Defenses on the other side usually can only watch the ball come to a hard landing on their side of the court. Lefebvre has the ability to instill fear in other teams. They aren’t expecting the 5-foot-9-inch hitter to have that much power, that much accuracy behind her shot. And she does it left-handed, playing on the left side of the court. ‘They’re not used to seeing that,’ Hayley Todd, an outside hitter, said. ‘Usually, lefties play on the right side. Even though they may watch film on it or something like that, it’s completely different when you’re playing.’ The joking about her English, the adjustment to a new environment and having to balance her new life are all in the past for Lefebvre. There’s nothing else to figure out. This season, all she had to do was come in and be the player she knew she had the ability to be. That’s what she’s done. ‘It was a set of mind I had this year coming in,’ Lefebvre said. ‘This year, I felt it was my role to step in a little more and contribute a little more than I have been in the past.’ [email protected] Published on October 18, 2010 at 12:00 pm Contact Chris: [email protected] | @chris_iseman
A group of local activists gathered to voice their concerns over the delay of the low-income Bethune Crossroads housing project on Vermont Avenue near USC on Wednesday.The project lays out plans for a 55-unit complex to be built on an empty lot on Vermont between 36th Place and 37th Street. The site is directly south of St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.Many activists at the rally were members of TRUST South LA — Tenemos Que Reclamar Y Unidos Salvar La Tierra (Together We Must Reclaim and Save the Land) — and are putting pressure on state legislators and Gov. Jerry Brown to continue funding projects, such as the Bethune Crossroads project.The group fears that the state-owned land will be auctioned off and sold to student housing developers — an increasingly common occurrence on the west side of campus, according to a survey conducted by United Neighbors In Defense Against Displacement of Los Angeles.“This community is being absorbed like a virus by USC,” said Brent Blair, director of Applied Theatre Arts at USC.Blair has taught at USC for 18 years and has lived on the west side for three years. He said community members have been directly displaced by students moving into west side housing.More than 90 percent of the housing on 36th Place between Vermont and Budlong avenues was community-serving housing in 1999, according to UNIDAD’s survey.UNIDAD conducted the same survey 10 years later and found that 25 percent of housing remained community-serving as 75 percent had been developed into non-university-owned student housing.“This is the community’s land,” said Rosa Giron, a TRUST volunteer and St. Mark’s member. “Why can’t students and families co-exist?”In 2011, the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles and the L.A. City Council gave the preliminary go-ahead for the Bethune Crossroads project, named after the now-demolished Bethune Library, which once occupied the vacant plot of land. The CRA/LA was set to put up $3 million to help fund the low-income housing project.But funding for the CRA/LA — and similar state agencies — was cut after the California State Supreme Court upheld a controversial bill that was passed as a part of Brown’s 2011-2012 budget proposal. The law eliminated more than 400 local redevelopment agencies in California and jeopardized numerous projects, including Bethune Crossroads.Sandra McNeill, executive director of TRUST, spoke at a press conference before the group’s rally. McNeill stressed the need for the completion of projects by the state and how the development will have a lasting effect.“Any cut they make will cause this community to bleed,” McNeill said. “However, as a community, we must critique the actions which the state has taken that have resulted … in denying our ability to advance a long-term vision for a healthy, safe and vibrant community.”The CRA/LA handed over its current backlog of projects to a successor agency on Wednesday. The successor agency has until June to decide on a limited number of projects to undertake.Alfredo Avila, a graduate student in the Applied Theatre Arts program, said he is concerned with the state potentially cutting direct funding to USC-area community redevelopments, which would pave the way for more student housing.“[Building more student housing is] not a horrible thing,” Avila said. “But students are only here temporarily.”USC does not own university housing on the west side of campus, but David Galaviz, executive director of local government relations for the university, said the school is in favor of community development in neighboring areas.“The university definitely supports efforts to improve the lives of the surrounding community [members],” Galaviz said.