Norway is known for a cold and snowy climate, winter sports and scenic splendor – not basketball. But one Cal Poly women’s basketball player spent four years in Norway’s capital honing her skills with various club teams and eventually the Norwegian National team.
Emilie Ravn, a 6-foot-1-inch junior forward for the Mustangs, moved from the sunny surroundings of Pasadena, Calif. to the glacial atmosphere of Oslo, Norway. Although basketball was hardly on her mind when she made the decision to move to Norway with her mom, Elizabeth Ravn, at the age of 14, Ravn appreciated the social benefits attached to playing the sport.
“Volleyball’s not very big over there and so I got onto a club basketball team,” Ravn said. “That’s how I made most of my friends (in Norway).”
Ravn played basketball in middle school prior to the move, but volleyball had been her favorite sport. With a lack of athletic options in Norway, basketball quickly became a huge part of Ravn’s life.
With a shy attitude, making friends on the court was important to Ravn. A language barrier did provide another obstacle, however.
“For the first year I basically didn’t say anything to anyone,” Ravn said. “There was my family who spoke English, but I didn’t really pick up on the language for about six-to-eight months.”
In order to play basketball, Ravn had to join a club team. Whereas high school sports are incredibly popular in the United States, in Norway they don’t exist.
Practices were also different, largely in the number of hours Ravn spent on the court. Each morning practice would begin at 8 a.m. and end two hours later. In the evening Ravn was on the court from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m.
The dedication paid off, however, as Ravn was asked to join the Norwegian Junior National team in her second year abroad.
Two months prior to a trip to Barcelona, Ravn tore her anterior-cruciate-ligament. She unknowingly played on the injured knee for six months before receiving treatment, fortunately doing no more damage than was already present, and had to take time away from the game.
Eventually Ravn would rejoin the junior national team and added to her basketball experience in the process.
Ravn played games in Greece, Spain, Sweden and Denmark – places she said Europeans don’t think much about from a tourist perspective, but were intriguing sites to visit from an American point-of-view.
The senior animal science major (with the eligibility of a junior on the basketball team due to injuries) decided to attend college in the United States and wanted to be close to her father, David Allin, in Los Angeles.
Ravn’s college choices were limited to UC Davis and Cal Poly, the two schools with her major available, and she chose Cal Poly because of its proximity to her father.
In the recruiting process with Cal Poly coach Faith Mimnaugh, Ravn knew she was going to attend Cal Poly but didn’t have more than several home videos to offer as an example of her abilities. Mimnaugh was still impressed with the basketball experience Ravn gained with the junior national team, Ravn said.
Injuries have been an ongoing problem for Ravn. Along with her torn ACL while in Norway, Ravn was kept out of all but seven games in Cal Poly’s 2002-03 season with a high ankle sprain, and she again tore her ACL in the 2003-04 season. The torn ACL kept her out of action until late January of the next season.
This year, Ravn has fended off the injury bug and has been a steady contributor. She has started 17 of 20 games for the Mustangs and averages 7.9 points-per-game as well as 3.5 rebounds-per-game.