When University of Maine fifth-year senior forward Fanny Wadling took the court in Sunday’s 63-62 win over Northeastern University, it was her first appearance in a regular season game since March 23, 2019.
That was against North Carolina State in a 63-51 loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Raleigh, North Carolina. She had nine points, a game-high three blocked shots, a team-high eight rebounds and an assist.
A concussion suffered in a 61-22 exhibition win over McGill University from Montreal on Nov. 3, 2019, prevented her from playing last season and she received a medical redshirt to return for a fifth year.
It was her second concussion in as many seasons. Her first one sidelined for 10 games during the 2018-19 season.
She had missed the first two games this season with a minor lower body injury.
Wadling, who practiced with the team over the second half of last season and this season, played 12 minutes against Northeastern and produced two points, five rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.
“It went well. I still have some [playing] time restrictions but I felt a lot better than I expected,” said Wadling, who led America East in rebounding two years ago by averaging nine per game.
“I tried to focus on going out and having fun. I wanted to enjoy the moment since it had been so long since I had played,” Wadling said.
She admitted that on her first foray down the court, “I had to catch my breath a little bit. But I felt fine. I’m not 100 percent but I’m getting there. I’m about 80 to 85 percent.”
Wadling said she wasn’t worried about another concussion.
“You can’t think about that. If you do, something might happen,” she said. “You just keep going like you normally do and hope for the best.”
Wadling followed that up with four rebounds, three assists and two points over 18 minutes of an 85-57 win over Hartford on Tuesday afternoon.
She learned a lot by watching the team from the sidelines last season but said that it is difficult to apply what you learn when you aren’t playing games.
There is no replacement for game speed and game intensity although she pointed out “that our practices are so competitive that you get a lot out of them, too. But a game is a game.”
Wadling likes the fact UMaine is playing three games in four days as they faced Hartford on Tuesday afternoon before playing the Hawks again on Wednesday in West Hartford.
“Playing a lot of games in a short period of time is like a crash course,” she said.
Her first game back was “a lot of fun” and she discovered that “I missed basketball even more than I thought I would.”
The 6-foot-1 native of Nacka, Sweden, said her goal is to “get back to where I was [before I suffered the concussion]. I want to keep building on that and help my team as much as I can.”
“It was nice to have her back out there,” said UMaine coach Amy Vachon. “She does so many things for us. She’s getting back into game shape.”