There were some American customs that were an easy transition for Sigrun Olafsdottir.
Nothing much was different in the way of music when she came from Iceland to the United States in 2020 to start her basketball career at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. A look at her musical playlist shows "All I Do is Win" by DJ Khaled as well as the Icelandic "Keyrumettigang," which translates to "Driving Time."
So music wasn't much of a change. Plus of course there was the scenery of the Scenic City, which made her feel like she was back at home. She's even started to attempt to learn American football, having picked up on some of the terms of the country's most popular sport from teammate Abbey Cornelius.
But there are some parts of American lifestyle that she's not quite ready to buy into at this time.
"You fry everything," she said, while noting she had become a fan of the steaks at Logan's Roadhouse as well as Mr. Burrito Grill. "I like fried foods, but you don't have to fry everything!"
Growing up, she played soccer and wasn't even going to try basketball. But when your father (Olafur Rafnsson) and your sister (Auour Iris Olafsdottir) both played for the Icelandic National Team and your father was the president of FIBA Europe for four years (from 2010 until his tragic passing in 2013), basketball will eventually find its way into your life.
Her adjustment hasn't been relegated to off the court, either. Olafsdottir played point guard for the Mocs last season, which she had played primarily through her career growing up. But circumstances have led her to play a number of different roles this season for UTC, which dropped a 67-52 decision to Alabama-Birmingham Monday night to fall to 1-6 on the year.
Abbey Cornelius led the Mocs with 20 points and six rebounds Monday night. Olafsdottir was scoreless, but had a pair of rebounds and two assists.
"I've been pleased with her effort and I hope she continues to play that way," UTC head coach Katie Burrows said after Olafsdottir scored a team-high 13 points in Saturday's loss to Georgia State. "The other things are going to click with her, and defensively she's super smart as well. She'll have her moments where she has a brain fart, but her length and her athleticism and her IQ help us on the defensive end as well.
"I think games like this are going to be a confidence booster for her, and I think you'll see more games like that for her."
She's shown her versatility by playing both inside and out for the Mocs and playing both with and without the ball, all while trying to learn some things she got away with in Iceland that won't fly in America, such as fouling and traveling. She's also being asked to guard bigger, stronger players at times, which is another adjustment.
"It's very different," Olafsdottir said. "I've never been thought of as strong, so I'm having to prove myself there, but it's been good to learn new stuff so I like it."
For a program that is used to the level of success that UTC basketball has been accustomed to historically, the past couple of seasons have been a struggle. The Mocs have had turnover issues all season (19.0 per game prior to Monday's game, 269th in the country out of 348 teams) and struggled shooting from long range, making just 24% of their 3-pointers.
The early portion of the non-conference schedule hasn't done a young Mocs team — currently consisting of three juniors, two sophomores and six freshmen — any favors, but Olafsdottir isn't giving up.
"We're trying to work some things out and putting them into play," Olafsdottir said. "We've got a lot of new girls this year, so we're still trying to get us going. I think we have a good team this year; we're very much together, we're close so I think we're almost there. Just a few more games.
"Don't give up on us. We're going to get there."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3.