Pilots in the Spotlight: Ellen Nurmi and Annika Holopainen

By The Beacon | September 5, 2012 9:00pm

Finland natives Ellen Nurmi (left) and Annika Holopainen (right) join the women’s basketball team as freshmen. They both committed to Portland after playing for the same club team in Finland, Mkelanrinteen Lukio. (Jackie Jeffers | The Beacon)

By Kaitlyn Dunn, Staff Writer dunn16@up.edu

Ellen Nurmi and Annika Holopainen are freshmen basketball players from Helsinki, Finland. Nurmi is a 6' 0" guard and Holopainen is a 6' 1" power forward. Both business majors, they bring their talents to the UP women's basketball team after playing on the same Finnish club team, Makelanrinteen Lukio.

Do you play any other sports?
Ellen: Just basketball. We don't have high school sports, just club teams.

Why did you choose to come to UP?
Ellen: The staff, coaches and players are really friendly. This place is probably the most like home.
Annika: Yeah, I was visiting University of San Diego and UP and this place felt like a more comfortable place to live. It is also a good school academically.

What do you miss most about Finland?
Annika: Food, friends and family.

What is one thing you wish was at UP from home?
Annika: I brought lots of Finish licorice.

Ellen: Something we don't have at home that we wish we had at UP was a football team because we've never seen an American football game so we'd really like to go. Our coaches and teammates promised they'd take us to a Portland State game.

What is your favorite American food?
Annika: Probably waffles and pancakes. We don't eat sweet stuff in the morning in Finland.
Ellen: I love the breakfast here because it's so big.

How does the fashion differ?
Ellen: Finnish people, I think they dress up a bit more. Especially because we are from the capital, Helsinki, it's a bit like our New York. Here it's kind of laid back and you can just walk around in sweat pants and no one really cares.

Are the people here different?
Ellen: People are so much friendlier here. They say, "Hi, how are you," when you walk by someone. It was kind of weird in the beginning; like a cultural shock.