Freshman Janniina Koivunen is averaging 6.1 points and 4.8 rebounds per game this season.

Freshman Janniina Koivunen is averaging 6.1 points and 4.8 rebounds per game this season.

By Nan Turner

Freshman VCU forward Janniina Koivunen loves the game of basketball. It’s why she was willing to leave her family in her native Helsinki, Finland and move to the United States at the age of 16 to pursue the sport.

Koivunen first moved to Greensboro, N.C. for a year before heading down the road to Thomasville to attend New Hope Christian School. The transition proved difficult, but not insurmountable for Koivunen.

“That was really different because high school here is so much different,” Koivunen said. “The whole game here is so different. The court is shorter, so that is also different. The tempo is different. It was hard in the beginning but I got used to it.”

Despite the major changes, Koivunen escaped one sometimes-difficult aspect of moving to a different country.

“I went to an English school back home,” Koivunen said. “I was good with it, of course some words I maybe didn’t know, but it wasn’t that bad.”

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