Rimdal Ready For Increased Role

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Alberte Rimdal was not yet a teenager when she sat with her family on a jet for a nearly eight-hour flight across the Atlantic Ocean on way to the United States. The trip was about 4,000 miles by plane, with another thousand or so by car after arrival. New York to Key West, Fla., with multiple stops along the way. 

One of those stops was Gainesville. The kid from Denmark was just 12 years old when she first laid eyes on the University of Florida campus. 

“Bertie” Rimdal

“I kind of just like fell in love with it,” Rimdal said. 

That was nearly a decade ago, but her feelings haven’t changed. As it turned out, young “Berte”  grew into an accomplished international basketball player sought by some top-flight college programs in America. When it came time to pick between California, Arizona, Penn State, South Florida and UF, she chose the place she fell for as that 12-year-old. 

Rimdal is all grown up now, a 5-foot-9 sophomore combo guard with a season of Southeastern Conference experience, and is set to play a pivotal role for the Gators 2022-23 as the program looks to pile on its breakout 21-win, NCAA Tournament performance in the first year under Coach Kelly Rae Finley. It starts Monday when UF takes on Florida A&M in the season opener at Exactech Arena/O’Connell. The Gators will do so with Rimdal in the starting lineup.  

“We want to just build on last year,” Rimdal said.

Alberte Rimdal (right) huddles with teammate KK Deans during last week’s exhibition.

Rimdal made her starting debut in Wednesday night’s 110-46 exhibition win over Division II Saint Leo and responded with 15 points on 6-for-12 shooting from the floor and 3-for-8 from the 3-point line over 25 minutes. Her scoring output was two points off her career-high from ’21-22 (17 versus Alabama) when she was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team after the season. 

Last year, Rimdal was a key reserve who averaged 4.5 points over 16.1 minutes per game, with the season serving as a springboard to bigger things this fall. With the season-ending injury to fifth-year point guard Zippy Broughton last month, there will be an opportunity for Rimdal to not only direct the offense more but step up as a leader as well. 

Her energy — cheering and high-fiving her teammates — was there Wednesday night. Her ability to communicate the plays on the court was clear. Her voice was heard. 

Rimdal has worked hard this offseason on being more of a vocal presence.

“I’m still just a sophomore, so sometimes it takes a lot of courage. But I am definitely working on it,” she said. “I’m a point guard so I need to talk. They need to hear my voice.”

Rimdal recognizes that she has to set the tone offensively and defensively at the floor general spot. Finley credits Rimdal for the progress she’s made so far and is hopeful her vocal leadership on the court will continue to develop. 

“I think that you all will be very, very happy to see the confidence — the calm confidence,” Finley said of Rimdal. “The vocal leadership, she’s really been determined to grow that in the offseason.” 

It’s a confidence backed up by an inspired work ethic.

“It’s truly unmatched,” Finley said. “She’s extremely consistent. She’s driven. She’s self-motivated. She really sets a great tone for our team and what it looks like to prepare each and every day.” 

An decent 3-point shooter, Rimdal swears by extra time beyond the team practices and workouts. She often trains individually behind the scenes. It’s therapeutic to her. 

“I could just shoot all day. I just love it. I just love the process,” Rimdal said. “I just want to become the best version that I can be and be as prepared as I can.”

Though this looms as one of the Gators’ deepest teams in years, look for Rimdal’s numbers from a season ago to increase, especially that 29.7 percentage from the 3-point line. She was perfect from the free-throw stripe as a freshman, making all 16 of her attempts. She’ll get there more this season, thanks to a quick first step that can get her going downhill and into the lane.  

Alberte Rimdal gives a fist pum after dropping one of her five 3-pointers in last season’s win at Kentucky.

As a freshman, Rimdal played a bunch of possessions alongside senior and first-team All-SEC point guard Kiarra Smith, a third-round pick in the WNBA Draft over the summer. Smith has stayed around the program as she works back from injury and has seen tremendous improvement in the player she knew as a college rookie.  

“I think she’s grown in a lot of different ways,” Smith said. “She’s grown from not being a primary ball-handler to being a primary ball-handler. She’s taken that very well. She’s very coachable and wants to learn. She’s one of the best on this team for being eager and wanting to learn. She doesn’t mind making mistakes because she learns from them.”

On her way to those All-Freshman honorws last season, she made UF history by becoming the first UF freshman to make five 3-pointers in back-to-back games, doing so against Alabama and Kentucky, which came during a run of five straight league victories that helped propel the Gators into the top half of the conference standings. 

“I’m definitely more confident this year because I know what I’m getting into,” she said. “I know the teams we’re playing. I know the environment.”

Over Rimdal’s life, she has had to adjust to new environments, new roles and new opportunities. She loves her team, loves the game and loves everything about being a Gator.

Always has.