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Fanny Wadling is finally experiencing a Maine summer, and she is thoroughly enjoying it.
The University of Maine basketball player from Nacka, Sweden, decided to stay in the state after coaches informed the international athletes that if they went home, it might be difficult to return because of travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“It made sense to stay. It was a very easy decision,” said Wadling, a 6-foot-1 forward who graduated in May with a degree in kinesiology and physical education.
That said, there is no guarantee she’ll be in Orono when the fall semester begins at UMaine.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced last week that foreign college students attending school in this country will not be allowed to remain here if their institutions offer only online classes.
Wadling called the move unfair and said it is stressful to all international students, not only student-athletes.
“Some international students live in a different time zone, and they don’t have access to the internet,” Wadling said.
However, she is relieved that UMaine intends to implement a plan for in-person classes this fall, albeit with numerous health and safety protocols to combat the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.
That would allow her and other international students at UMaine to remain in the country.
In the meantime, Wadling has been taking advantage of her free time.
“I’m enjoying it a lot,” Wadling said. “I had never hiked a lot before but they have a lot of good trails here.
“I swam under the waterfall at Moxie Falls, which was really cool, and I went white water rafting in the Kennebec River,” she said.
Moxie Falls, located at West Forks in Somerset County, has a 90-foot vertical drop into a pool of water that is 17 feet deep.
Wadling said she was scared before going whitewater rafting, but it turned out to be fun.
“They said we hit a 20-foot wave. I’m thankful I didn’t fall out,” she said. “I think some of the boats behind us flipped over.”
She has also been playing tennis, but admitted that she isn’t good at it.
Wadling figured if she was going to spend her summer here, she was going to embrace the experience and explore Maine and try different things.
Her teammates from Maine had told her that the summers here are special and it would be nice for her to experience it instead of only during the school year.
“And it is a lot warmer in the summer here than in Sweden, and I’m enjoying that,” Wadling said.
She is gearing up for her final year of basketball at UMaine after she missed last season. Wadling received a medical redshirt after suffering a concussion in a Nov. 3, 2019, exhibition game against McGill University.
It was the second concussion of her UMaine career.
Wadling led America East in rebounding with nine rebounds per game during the 2018-2019 season, when the Black Bears won their second straight conference championship.
“I can’t wait to start back up again,” Wadling said. “It will be good to see my teammates, practice with them and get to play a game.”
She has also been working out regularly, doing a lot of running and some weight training.
Wadling had to watch from the sidelines with several other teammates who sustained season-ending injuries. They included Blanca Millan, 2019 the America East Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, who underwent knee surgery.
Millan, a Spaniard who also is spending her summer in Maine, earned a medical redshirt waiver and will return for her fifth season.
Senior Sierra Tapley and freshman Anna Kahelin also had knee surgery and freshman Abbe Laurence missed the last 21 games with a knee issue. UMaine finished the season with just six healthy players.
Despite being decimated by injuries, the Black Bears went 18-14 overall and 12-4 in America East. UMaine finished second behind Stony Brook and earned a trip to the league title game when the season was canceled because of the coronavirus.
“I couldn’t have been prouder of them for what they did on the court and off the court,” Wadling said. “I really enjoyed watching them. It made [sitting out] not as bad.”
She has also embraced Maine cuisine.
“I made a lobster roll,” said Wadling, who misses her family in Sweden but has been chatting with them using the FaceTime app.
Now that she is healthy, Wadling hopes to rejoin a team that will have three all-conference performers among four returning starters. If there is a season, there is plenty of room for optimism.
“I can’t wait to get back on the court,” she said.