Noora Parttimaa finds motivation in many different places. Whether it’s internal or external, the Sheridan College international basketball player finds reason and enjoyment in the everyday grind it takes to improve. Parttimaa is seeing the fruits of her labor in a breakout sophomore season with the Lady Generals, and every once in while she reflects on how far she’s come in her basketball career.
“I always want to be better. I’m never satisfied,” Parttimaa said. “Sometimes I need not be so hard on myself, and that’s when I look back to see how far I’ve come, and that’s when I feel the pride because I have come such a long way.”
Parttimaa grew up in Liomaa, a town of about 16,000 people in the southeast portion of Finland where basketball wasn’t all that popular, especially for women. In an effort to increase the level of competition, Parttimaa elected to play in Nokia, a neighboring town, with girls that were much older than her.
Due to the distance between the two cities — over an hour drive — Parttimaa would practice with the boys in Liomaa during the week and travel to Nokia for games on the weekends.
“It was fun. I love the competition,” Parttimaa said. “I feel like guys just compete way more, so it was fun. … I think they were a little bit afraid. They didn’t want to lose to a girl, so it was fun. I was kind of like an underdog. So I loved it.”
The decision to compete for another team, however, didn’t go over well in Liomaa. Parttimaa didn’t intend to stir up any malice between her and her hometown; she simply wanted to play against higher competition to better improve her game.
Parttimaa has transformed that negative attitude from many of her townsfolk into positive fuel for improvement. While she has received plenty of unrelenting support from her family, Parttimaa also finds motivation in disregarding doubters.
“I love to prove people wrong,” Parttimaa said. “I have many people checking in on me to see if I’m losing. They check in on me to see if I failed already. But I feel like I’m winning still, so I kind of like it.”
Parttimaa kept ascending in her mid teens and joined a women’s league in Forssa before finishing high school in Helsinki, where she competed in the highest level of Finnish women’s basketball. Her success in Helsinki garnered her looks from junior colleges in the United States, and soon the small-town Finnish girl was Googling Sheridan, Wyoming, to see if the small western town would best foster the next step in her basketball career.
SC head coach Ryan Davis didn’t know about Parttimaa during the infancy stages of recruiting. Davis heard of her through a contact he had at Western Wyoming Community College who, after getting the ball rolling on the recruitment of Parttimaa, left for an assistance job at the University of Maine.
That left Parttimaa on the recruiting market. Davis watched some film, contacted Parttimaa and her family, and within a week Sheridan College had filled one of their remaining international scholarship spots.
Parttimaa made her way to the U.S., arrived on campus and quickly made an impression on her roommate and teammate, Kassie Hoyer.
“I just remember talking to coach and him saying that she was a tough kid, and it was funny because the first time I met her she had cornrows and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, she’s so tough,’” Hoyer said. “I was scared to give her a hug.”
Hoyer soon learned that Parttimaa’s cornrows were simply just a way to style her hair and the two grew close during their first year of collegiate basketball.
“My love for the game expanded when she came here just because she’s always in the gym, and she’d always bring me along,” Hoyer said.
Even though Parttimaa frequented the Bruce Hoffman Golden Dome quite often as a freshman, it wasn’t close to the amount of time she wanted to spend in the gym. Parttimaa was slowed initially by mononucleosis and then by a stress fracture in her back.
Couple those ailments with the fact that Parttimaa was trying to adapt to a new language, lifestyle and being thousands of miles away from home, and the first year proved difficult.
During the spring semester of Parttimaa’s first year, she began to settle into the American way of life, and most importantly, regained her health. She went home for a couple months this past summer and did countless one-on-one drills with her father, improving every aspect of her game.
Parttimaa came back to Sheridan stronger, quicker, and adapted to the U.S. and the way basketball is played in the states.
“She was underwhelming when she got here (as a freshman), and she’s been overwhelming since,” Davis said. “… I don’t know if we thought she’d be where she’s at right now. I thought she’d be a form of this, but I think she’s gone over what we thought.”
Parttimaa averages a team-high 15.4 points per game, a year after averaging 6.1 points per contest. She has nearly tripled her minutes per game and could certainly log more if needed.
Teammates have noticed the change and are not surprised at all with the leap she made in just one year.
“Noora, she had a grind last year, undoubtedly. We were in the gym every day,” Hoyer said. “I think somehow that grind has elevated to another level. It’s like Division I level.”
Division I schools have started to contact Davis and Parttimaa expressing their interest in her talent. Parttimaa doesn’t like to think about the next step too much, wanting to focus on her final year as a Lady General, but she does know one thing.
“I want to go someplace warm,” Parttimaa laughed. “I don’t know if I’d like it, but I want to go Division I, someplace warm.”
Wherever her talents take her next, Parttimaa will always remember her roots. She’ll always remember the backyard trampoline basketball games with her older sister. She’ll always remember putting up shots in a gym in Liomaa. She’ll always remember those townsfolk that she aims to prove wrong each day. She’ll remember the kids that stop her after games, wanting an autograph and wanting even more to be in her shoes someday.
Parttimaa simply loves the game of basketball and how it brought her to Sheridan, Wyoming.