Emily Boissonneault: Learning to lead

It might be hard to understand Emily Boissonneault when she says she's "finally found her place" on the women's lacrosse team.

The senior ranks first in the Titan record books in goals (188), points (208) and caused turnovers (119). She's been a National Lacrosse Conference all-league selection since UDM's inaugural season in 2009.

She's been the face of the program from day one. So why would the star of a team not know her place?

It's because – like any college student – she's still discovering herself.

"I have a fuller understanding of who I am," she said. "I've grown as a

A tangible sign of her growth came last month when Boissonneault was named captain of the 2012 team, an honor she held two years ago, but not last season.

She's changed since the first time she led the team.

"My maturity is different," Boissonneault said. "I've explored my leadership qualities and have learned about other people."

She credits attending the NCAA student-athlete leadership forum last fall in Chicago for helping improve her skills with others.

Since she became captain in 2010, Detroit has limped to a 10-28 combined record in two seasons – a campaign marked by a communication breakdown between players and coaches.

Boissonneault said the losing made it hard to develop good chemistry on and off the field, but now, with a new coaching staff, she said it has changed for the better.

How much better? Just ask freshman Tessa Keuler.

"We just all communicate so well," she said. "We have a chemistry that's going to be really hard to beat."

Keuler said Boissonneault's leadership is a big part of that.

"She's the perfect captain to take us where we need to be," she said. "It hurts her as a person when people aren't getting along. She is the team. It's really cool."

Her growth over two years has involved "focusing on the bigger picture," Boissonneault said.

It's also meant developing other facets of her life. In the past couple years, she's joined a sorority and made herself available to different organizations and activities.

"Before, I was isolated in the athletic world, but I've branched out and found out what I'm strong at," she said. "I put myself out there. I've learned about other people and when I'm doing something wrong."

Keuler said Boissonneault really connects with first-year players.

"I didn't expect to be close to seniors," she said. "She doesn't act like there's any sort of age difference."

Boissonneault said that's because of their passion for the game.

"Our freshman class has a good idea of what they want," she said. "They want to fight to win and that attracts us as upperclassmen. It's easier to get along when you want the same things."