Darri Frandsen fights to stand her ground underneath her own basket. Northern Colorado freshman Alisha Davis works to get open in the post through a series of bumps and pushes.
Frandsen, a junior forward for Southern Utah University’s women’s basketball team, pushes back with all her strength to keep Davis out of the paint. The smile on her face seems to indicate that Frandsen is enjoying the bruising battle.
Davis gets the ball and attempts to dribble into the paint for a hook shot. Step for step Frandsen matches Davis’ movement. She rises as Davis releases the ball, blocking the ball out of bounds.
“It always feels good, blocking shots,” Frandsen told reporters after the game. “That’s one of my favorite parts.”
Each sentence Frandsen utters is punctuated by a quiet chuckle. Her smile is seemingly sculpted onto her face, even manifesting itself during the most taxing moments of play.
Positivity isn’t Frandsen’s philosophy. It’s her nature. She credits her parents and coaches for instilling positivity in her from an early age.
Relentless positivity wasn’t the only thing Frandsen inherited from her parents. The Frandsens have a rich connection to SUU basketball.
Darri’s mom, Cherri, is SUU’s all time leading scorer and one of the team’s loudest supporters. Now Darri is writing the next chapter of Frandsen basketball history.
“The community is everything to me,” Frandsen said. “I love being here and all of the support. My grandpa used to coach here. My mom, my aunts and a bunch of my uncles played here. Basketball is a big part of us, and Cedar City is a part of us, too. I am honored to be playing at SUU.”
After emerging as one of the best bench performers in the conference during the 2016-17 season, Frandsen felt she needed to step away from the team to serve an LDS mission.
She was called to Rome, Italy, and had to move away from her roots in Cedar City. The time away with a focus on serving others fortified her ever-pleasant approach to life.
Frandsen returned to the team after two years away, and had to prove her place on the team to head coach Tracy Sanders, who was hired before the 2018-19 season.
It didn’t take long before her attitude and work ethic not only solidified her spot on the team but a full time spot in Sanders’ rotation.
Despite two seasons off, Frandsen is averaging 5.7 PPG and 4.6 RPG in just under 16 MPG. She’s appeared in all 27 of the T-Birds’ games this season, and has provided invaluable depth to the T-Birds’ frontcourt.
Frandsen specializes in getting under her opponents’ skin through offensive rebounding and tenacious defending. The smile helps irk opponents, too.
“To me it feels like a game,” Frandsen said with a chuckle. “If someone comes at me and tries to plow me over, I’m like, ‘Alright, let’s get this started.’ I feel like I kind of naturally have a smile and it frustrates the other team a little bit, too.”
Every time her name booms over the PA speakers at America First Events Center local fans roar with approval. She looks around the arena and smiles.
Story by: Connor Sanders
Photos courtesy of SUU Athletics