Graduating senior Fanny Ahman is a ‘light’ for the University's volleyball program
Despite the hardships of transferring during COVID-19, the volleyball player made her mark at AU
Fanny Ahman tried a wide range of activities before volleyball, all except soccer, as her dad always said that was a “knee injury waiting to happen.” When she began volleyball, Ahman instantly loved it.
She grew up in Umeå, Sweden with an exceptionally athletic family — her younger brother, David Ahman, won a gold medal at the Youth Olympic Games 2018 in Buenos Aires in beach volleyball.
“Swedish culture and American culture are pretty close-knit so I grew up always watching American movies,” Ahman said. “I watched movies about college and figured out you could go to college to play sports and realized that was something I wanted to do.”
At the age of 12, Ahman discovered her true passion and found her place: in the back row of the positioning setup, as a defensive specialist. Ahman’s talents in the libero position led to her standing out as a player, and she was invited to join the Swedish Indoor National Team at the young age of 15.
Ahman’s career goes beyond the gym. She has found immense success in beach volleyball, winning championships in the U20, U18 and the Swedish Beach Tour, all proving her adaptability to the sport no matter the setting.
Ahman was bound to play at the collegiate level from a young age, and it was no surprise when she was recruited to the beach volleyball team at Texas A&M Corpus Christi.
There, she had two successful seasons, compiling a 7-4 record as a freshman. However, she decided she needed to transfer to gain access to a journalism program. She was drawn to the School of Communication at American University, as well as the indoor volleyball program.
“Halfway through college, I had figured out that I wanted to do journalism and international relations and there was no better place than AU for that,” Ahman said.
Despite her success at the game itself, Ahman’s most valuable asset to the volleyball team was her positive attitude, according to Eric Johnson, assistant coach for the volleyball program.
“Every practice, every game, no matter what happened before she walked into that gym — she came in smiling,” Johnson said. “I’ve coached a lot of players but not all come in with the positive attitude that she carries with her day after day.”
The coronavirus pandemic inevitably altered Ahman’s time at AU, and although she won’t be returning for a fifth season, she made her mark known in her brief period on the team. At the September home match against top-ranked Oregon, she achieved a match high of 12 digs, while spreading persistent positivity to her teammates as AU fell behind in points.
Ahman described the Oregon game as one of her favorite playing memories at AU.
“It was packed in the gym, the music was loud and it really felt like the crowd was engaged with the game which made it so fun,” Ahman said. “Even though we lost, we kept our energy up the whole time and I think that’s what made it such a memorable experience that has stuck with me.”
Ahman left her coaches impressed that day, despite the Eagle’s ultimate loss to the Oregon Ducks, she made sure to maintain a positive attitude on the court that day.
“Fanny had her energy high the entire game and was having so much fun on the court, which made it fun for everyone else,” Johnson said. “Having someone like Ahman on the court really makes a difference. She is a light in that gym.”
In addition to adapting to the pandemic, Ahman also had to adapt to a different type of collegiate volleyball. Indoor volleyball is different in a variety of ways, such as the court, the ball, positioning, scoring and even the attire.
While this could have been a disadvantage for Ahman, she used it as a strength. Ahman stepped up to the plate and was able to adjust her collegiate career to fit the needs of AU’s team.
“Well it’s a different sport so it took some time to get back into that rhythm of only playing indoor volleyball,” Ahman said. “I just tried to go into it with as cheerful of an attitude as possible because I think that’s the biggest way I can make a difference on the court.”
Johnson said Ahman used her skill with both beach and indoor volleyball, to her benefit.
“Her ball control and skills are a lot more position focused at times which stems from her beach experience,” Johnson said. “It helps her all around in the game and it's her core awareness that makes Fanny so valuable as a player. Beach isn’t needed to play indoor volleyball, but in her case, it definitely helps.”
Ahman’s persistent drive and passion for the sport are evident, as is her incredibly positive attitude that has been a light of good energy in the AU gym throughout the last two years. She attributes her success to her pre-game rituals.
“I always listen to music, do my hair, and just really try and get the team hyped up,” Ahman said. “Prior to the game, I usually write out my goals for each game and try my best to accomplish them throughout the match. Afterward, I look back and see what I accomplished and what I need to work on for next time.”
After Ahman graduates in May, she said she plans to keep volleyball in her life.
“I don’t know where my path is going to take me, but I know I’m not finished with volleyball yet,” Ahman said. “I may go back to Sweden or I may stay here in the U.S., but sports are going to continue to be a big part of my life, no matter where I end up.”