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
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