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Guard/Forward Ellen Nurmi Symbolizes Spartans Future

Ellen Nurmi, a junior guard/forward for the women’s basketball team, started playing basketball at the age of seven. She credits her height, as she is now six feet tall, and father’s background in basketball for her initial interest in the sport.

Nurmi grew up in Turku, Finland and attended Makelanrinne High School. Her favorite basketball memory of all time was “being apart of a national championship team three times at home.”

In high school, the Finnish National Basketball Association awarded Nurmi the title of Best Junior League Shooter. After high school, Nurmi decided to move to the United States to play college basketball.

“My junior year in high school I started getting recruiting letters and emails and that’s how I first got interested. Also, a few older players had been to the U.S. for school and basketball so I heard good things from them,” Nurmi said.

Nurmi initially played for The University of Portland where, in her freshman year, she started 22 games and averaged 7.9 points per game. Nurmi ultimately decided it to change schools after the 2012-2013 season.

“It just wasn’t a good fit for me and being from Finland, the west coast is further away from home than the east coast,” Nurmi said. Nurmi picked UT as her next best step. “Tampa seemed like a great fit both academically and athletically and I fell in love with the campus on my visit,” Nurmi said.

Since transferring to UT, she has become a crucial member of our women’s team. “Ellen is a big part of our UT basketball family and she is a great player,” said Head Coach Tom Jessee.

As one of her team’s captains, Nurmi shows how she embraces her role in the UT basketball family wholeheartedly. “Being the captain comes with a lot of responsibilities but also being someone teammates come to for help is an honor,” Nurmi said.

Nurmi started all 31 games as a guard/forward for the Spartans last season. She had a season-high and career-high 26 points against conference rival Barry University and scored a grand total of 365 points for the season. Nurmi was awarded numerous accolades, including SSC Newcomer of the Year and the DII ADA Academic Achievement Award. However, last year’s SSC regular season title run reigns supreme in her memories regarding her time here at UT.

“My favorite UT basketball memory was from 2013-2014 when we won the regular season championship. It was an amazing feeling,” Nurmi said.

As this season comes to an end, the Spartans and Nurmi, have continued their drive for excellence.

“She will be looked at to continue to push our program forward over the next year,” said Jessee about Nurmi’s role on the team.

With only one regular season game remaining, UT’s current overall record for the season is 16-10. They hold an 9-7 record within their conference.

Nurmi tied her career-high score again this past January, shooting a second 26-point game against Barry and helping lead the Spartans to victory. They finished up their season on Feb. 28, once again against conference rival Barry University and head off to the SSC Quarterfinals.

When it comes to goals for the rest of this season, “As a team we are aspiring to win the conference tournament. As an individual I try to do whatever is needed from me to each night to win,” said Nurmi.

Even though Nurmi is focused on helping the Spartans win, the advertising and public relations major also reflects on her future beyond UT, “My plans after graduation are still a big question mark. I haven’t decided if I want to go home to Finland or stay here. Also, playing basketball in Europe is a possibility.”

Erin Townsend can be reached at 


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