Stine Austgulen’s treacherous path paying dividends at CSU

Luke Zahlmann

Taking after the mountains she roams, Colorado State redshirt senior Stine Austgulen is an immovable force for a young Rams team in search of leadership and production.

Running up and down a mountain is merely offseason training for Austgulen, the guard who has dealt with great heights of difficulty throughout her tenure at CSU.

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Austgulen dressed in orange dribbles ball up court
Redshirt senior Stine Austgulen moves the ball up the court during the fourth quarter of play against the Colorado Buffaloes on Dec. 6. The Rams fell in a hard fought battle 70-67 in Moby Arena. (Elliott Jerge | Collegian)

On the court and off, Austgulen made it a mission to succeed in every avenue, already working on her master’s degree. Even after graduation, education and basketball have not stalled but rather reached new heights for the heart of CSU women’s basketball.

Austgulen is no stranger to the lights. Prior to her time at Colorado State, she enjoyed a dominant youth career that included multiple championships overseas and most valuable player recognitions with her under 18 and under 16 teams. However, the adversity that would strike at the start of her career in the U.S. is what made her the player she is today.

The first two years of her career, Austgulen began to trek the largest mountain of her hardwood career. With constant injuries that included surgery and relatively little experience in American women’s basketball, Austgulen did not play her first two years. She was relegated to a reserve role and redshirted her sophomore season to recover from a season-ending injury.

The pine was a new venue for Austgulen, but her spirit failed to waver and gave her a vital learning experience under the tutelage of coach Ryun Williams.

“If she would have pouted, been discouraged, she wouldn’t have this type of (career),” Williams said. “She wouldn’t have been ready. But, her mind is ready because she paid attention and she listened. That’s what we really appreciate about Stine is she is a really good listener.”

A fighting spirit, along with a mind searching for expansion, Austgulen stayed on the path she had chosen and learned from her struggles, rather than running from them.

Spotted with a constant wrap on her knee even to this day, Austgulen made it a mission to fight through her injuries and hurdle them. Injuries and a stint on the bench are not the only adverse circumstances gnawing on her mind, though.

Stine Austgulen celebrates a 3-pointer against Denver on Nov. 30, 2016. (Elliott Jerge | Collegian)

With over 4,000 miles separating her from her family, Austgulen has been bound together with her teammates and created a family that she now has in each country. With a slew of foreign players adorning the Rams’ roster, Austgulen found solace and common ground with those she shares the court, allowing her to cope with the loss of a lifestyle.

“She is just a mentally strong young lady,” Williams said. “If there’s an adverse situation, she is going to fight through it, she doesn’t fold. I think that’s just Stine.”

As a team, the Rams celebrate the cultures of each other and even have designated nights that are built to share culture and be able to enjoy a slice of home. With many Rams coming from similar lifestyles abroad, they are able to coexist and depend on each other as they would anyone from home.

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The family she has created as a Ram allows Austgulen to summit yet another mountain and leave it in her wake.

Placing her arm around teammates and being there for them has made Austgulen a true asset on a Rams squad that is very inexperienced. The latest example of her leadership showed during the shooting slump endured by fellow shooter, junior Sofie Tryggedsson.

“Me and Stine have always supported each other a lot,” Tryggedsson said. “Especially last year when we subbed for each other and in practice. It would always be, ‘You got this, you got the next shot,’ and just with a really positive mindset.”  

That positive mindset is vital as a leader for a Rams team that has endured offensive struggles this year that are different than previous years. With a core wrapped around two elite players in Ellen Nystrom and Elin Gustavsson, the Rams leaned upon the two seniors in past years. This year, Austgulen holds the torch.

“Stine is very competitive and stubborn, which (are) good traits for a very good shooter,” Nystrom said. “An open shot for her is a good shot regardless, because more times than not, it’s going in.”

As her time on the campus of CSU comes to an end, Austgulen is starring a legacy directly in the eyes. She is on a statistical path yet to be breached by a Rams scorer.

A storied past for the Rams is very much present through the rafters of Moby. With a name like Becky Hammon to live up to, many players fall short. Hammon, nor any other women’s basketball player, has accomplished what Austgulen is on a pace to do in her final year in Fort Collins. Shooting 47.9 percent from beyond the arc, Austgulen is on pace to have the single best 3-point shooting season in CSU history.

Colorado State players Stine Austgulen (2), Ellen Nystrom (13) and Hannah Tvrdy (10) enjoy themselves during an exhibition game against CSU-Pueblo. (Trevor Capozza | Collegian)

Austgulen leads the team in made 3-pointers while only accruing a mere 10 turnovers this season, a big part of the Rams being ranked favorably in the nation in turnovers per game. Even though the season started slowly for Austgulen, her scoring is second on the team per game, with a possibility to finish first not far ahead.

With a smaller role to begin the season, she has played the full contest in her last four, without substitution. Her constant presence on the court for Williams is a catalyst for their success and a huge part of their 12-7 record.

With 10 games remaining on the year, the Rams will rely on Austgulen and allow her to shine, with the hope that she can add yet another Mountain West championship and more to her accolades.

Either way, Austgulen and her will to fight will be lauded long after she leaves CSU by coaches and teammates alike.

Collegian sports reporter Luke Zahlmann can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @lukezahlmann.