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After a year of waiting, Matilda Ekh arrives in East Lansing for women's hoops from Sweden

November 2, 2021

For the past year, MSU women's basketball freshman Matilda Ekh played a waiting game.

COVID-19 travel restrictions held Ekh in her hometown of Västerås, Sweden, preventing her from joining the team in East Lansing. 

"For me the entire process was really difficult," Ekh said. "I was supposed to come last year, but I couldn't because of COVID and I couldn't get my visa back. It has been a struggle, but I am glad to be here."

Although faced with this challenge, Ekh continued to practice throughout the year.

"I played in the first division in Sweden last year, and then I played with the national team this summer, so I've had teams to work with all the time," Ekh said. "When I decided not to come, the coaching staff and I just kept talking every once in a while to keep me updated on what was going on here, and I kept that updated with what was going on with our season."

Now, the 6-foot guard/forward has finally arrived. The team and coaching staff have welcomed Ekh with open arms, she said.

"It's been really fun playing with (Ekh)," senior guard Nia Clouden said. "She is not like a freshman; she plays really experienced. I know she had professional experience overseas, and you can definitely tell. She picks things up really fast, so we don't ever have to worry about having to explain stuff twice.”

The big question is why Michigan State? What was the pull for Ekh that drew her in from across the globe?

“It was a tough decision,” Ekh said. “I didn't know a lot about college when I was choosing, but I had a good feeling about Michigan State and the coaching staff when I was here visiting.”

Ekh is joined by many freshman on the roster including guard DeeDee Hagemann, forwards Lauren Walker, Isaline Alexander and center Brooklyn Rewers. So far though, Ekh has looked to be the leader of this class, starting in the exhibition game against Northwood on Oct. 31 as she racked up 15 points in 21 minutes.

“Having (Ekh) here alongside the incoming freshman has been awesome,” junior guard Julia Ayrault said. “They have done a great job of listening and taking everything in and being available. It's been really cool getting to know them, and I'm excited to see what they do on the court this year.”

Michigan State women's basketball Head Coach Suzy Merchant said the mix of veterans and newcomers on the team excite her for the team's potential.

“I am really excited about this group,” Merchant said. “We have about 84% of our scoring back, our top seven scorers and our NCAA tournament team. They were young last year, but now they're very much more veterans. ... The new kids that have come in and have picked things up really quickly.”

Ekh and the rest of the women's hoops team will kick off their season Nov. 9 at the Breslin against Morehead State.

“My main goal this season is to get adjusted and get a spot on the team," Ekh said. “I want to make it as far as possible.” 

This story is part of our Nov. 2 print edition. View the full issue here.

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