BOULDER, Colo. — A University of Colorado Boulder women's basketball player made her way from across the world to come play for the Buffs, which was only made more complicated by the pandemic.
“She’s a great teammate,” CU freshman Kindyll Wetta said with a smile. “Always encouraging, always brings great energy. She’s someone that I think our team really relies on.”
Wetta’s talking about Frida Formann, her teammate on the CU women’s basketball team whose smile is as disarming as her three-point shot is lethal.
“She’s happy, she smiles and she’s just a wonderful person to be around,” said JR Payne, CU’s head coach of women’s basketball.
But Formann’s start at CU was anything but pleasant.
“The embassies were closed, the borders were closed,” Payne said. “Nobody knew if she was going to be able to get in.”
Formann was moving from her native Denmark in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
“I just dropped into starting classes in English for the first time in American school,” Formann said. “I had to quarantine. I was like, ‘I’m finally here,’ but it was really stressful.”
She managed to make it to class, but fitting in with her peers was another challenge entirely.
“You don’t really realize how different your culture is until you experience that it’s different,” Formann said. “I remember the first time seeing the word ‘syllabus’ and I was like, ‘I don’t know what that is.’”
The Danish to English transition made her feel lost in translation.
“Danish is not a really pretty language to be honest,” Formann said. “I wouldn’t say ‘switch’ if I switch a screen I would say ‘switch’ in Danish. Those things, they have to just come out of just you reacting to what’s in front of you. Switching my mind to reacting with English words was a bit difficult. I’ve definitely had times where I’ve looked at something happening in front of me and just went, 'nope it’s not coming to me.'”
She breached the language barrier with warmth and compassion.
“She just knows when I need help,” Wetta said. “What I need help understanding and she knows how to communicate with people without it coming across as harsh.”
Formann is a talented communicator on and off the court, evident in her role helping to create the Danish women’s national basketball team.
“We just got a women’s national team a few years ago by crowdfunding,” Formann said. “It’s growing, and I really want to be a part of whatever our national team is in the future.”
While at CU, she’s studying the environment, hoping to make the world a better place. Formann’s so dedicated to the cause she doesn’t even own a car.
The CU women’s basketball team is 14-5 on the season and they hope to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2012-2013.