To celebrate International Education Week, WRUF is publishing profiles of UF student-athletes all week.
True freshman Frieda Bühner’s basketball story started before she took a step on American soil.
The 6-foot-3 forward hails from Osnabrück, a city of 165,000 people in South Germany.
Her amateur career consists of being a standout and ultimately representing her country at 18, something that makes her unique from most of her teammates.
Before moving to Gainesville in August 2022, Bühner played for the Osnabrück Panthers where she averaged 9.8 points and 7.2 rebounds while shooting 47.8% in 2021.
Former WNBA New York Liberty head coach Walt Hopkins now coaches the German women’s national team’s head. In attendance, he noticed Bühner’s performance and called her to represent her country on the international stage.
Bühner was a vital member of the U18 three-on-three German Cup where she helped lead her team to a championship. As the second-best scorer on the team, Bühner became successful on a unique platform of basketball, which has quickly taken off thanks to the addition of the sport to the summer Olympics and Ice Cube’s BIG3 League consisting of former professionals.
Bühner’s success on the international three-on-three team bled over to her play for the Osnabrück Panthers where she played a pivotal role. She was the top scorer and rebounder, and had the highest efficiency rating in the Damen Basketball Bundesliga.
She will be bringing her experience in the best German league with her when she takes the court with the Gators.
“It was all about being loud and communicating,” Bühner said. “I think that can translate pretty well into college basketball because here we’re talking, bringing energy and that is all the same.”
Stella performances by 2022 @FriedaBuehner in the Top German league. 6’2 Tough & Versatile player scoring in multiple ways against high standard competition. pic.twitter.com/SRn93YcxPS
— Blue Star Europe (@Bluestareurope) November 10, 2020
Despite the similarities, moving to Gainesville has been a cultural shock for Bühner, both on the court and in everyday life. Though basketball remains basketball, rules differ slightly between the German league and the NCAA.
As athletes tend to know rules habitually, these differences force them to adjust their game to fit the NCAA version. For example, in the NCAA the shot clock time is shortened. To prepare her, Bühner’s speed has been a focal point in practice since she arrived in Gainesville.
“The basketball here is way faster than in Germany,” Bühner said. “I really need to get adjusted to the speed at first and not only physically, but mentally.”
Off the court, Bühner has also had to adjust to the bipolar Florida weather that most Floridians are not even used to yet. She encountered the capricious Florida weather first-hand when Hurricane Ian came through Gainesville in September.
“We do not have any hurricanes in Germany,” Bühner said. “That was definitely a culture shock, I was a little surprised.”
Europe, Germany included, has not had a hurricane in over 50 years—a world apart from Florida, which has had more than 80 hurricanes in the 21st century alone.
Outside of weather accumulation, Bühner also noted structural differences between Gainesville and her hometown in Germany.
“The cities are just very different all around the university,” Bühner said. “And you don’t really have a city center, back at home we always had a city center.”
Another change Bühner has had to adjust to is food. While schnitzels, bratwursts and other sausages are favorites in Germany, America is known for hamburger and hotdogs.
“It’s generally just really different here,” Bühner said. “The food is really different, it’s just a whole other culture.”
Beyond the food, Bühner has appreciated discovering American football.
“Football is crazy,” she said. “It is so much fun going to the football games, and I’ve been to one or two volleyball games.”
Overall, Bühner has loved her short time in Gainesville leading up to the season and she made a point to emphasize that Floridians are “a lot nicer” than the local Germans.
“I really like Gainesville it is so nice,” Bühner said. “It is just so fun to work out and then go in the sun, it is so happy.”
Bühner has also made a great impression on her teammates since arriving, notably the two other international players on the women’s basketball team, sophomore Alberte Rimdal (from Koge, Denmark) and senior Faith Dut (from Vancouver, British Columbia).
As a national team player herself, Dut praised Bühner’s past with the German team. She says that experience will undoubtedly transfer over to the college game.
“The first day she got here she was in the gym,” Dut said. “Being that Frieda has been on teams where she has played with professionals and has been able to watch them helps her approach it as if it is her job.”
Dut recognizes college is a hard time for all freshmen trying to find their identity, especially internationally.
“As a freshman, from anywhere, it is difficult to get into routines and stick with it,” Dut said. “Her history playing with professionals on the national level has prepared her well.”
Bühner along with the rest of the Gator women’s basketball team will be led by Kelly Rae Finley into the 2022-2023 basketball season.