NEXT NURSE IS UP
Rookie forward continues athletic family line, writes Rob Longley.
Given the athletic pedigree among her extended family, it wouldn’t have been a stretch to see Sarah Nurse show up and succeed at any number of venues at these Games.
That she is a rookie on the Canadian women’s hockey team is turning out to be a solid sporting decision for her, however.
When Nurse made her Olympic debut in Sunday’s 5-0 win over Russia, she joined her cousin and basketball star Kia Nurse as a Canadian Olympian. But that’s just the tip of the Nurse family tree, a dizzying list of sporting accomplishments that now spans two generations and is one connected by her father Roger and two of his siblings.
Start with Roger, who was an outstanding lacrosse player in his day and is active in the Hamilton sports scene. Sarah’s brother Isaac plays for his hometown Bulldogs of the OHL.
Her uncle Richard played six seasons for the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats and his wife Cathy was a standout basketball player at McMaster University. One of their kids is the aforementioned Kia, while son Darnell was selected in the first round of the 2013 NHL draft by the Edmonton Oilers.
Moving along, Roger and Richard’s sister Raquel, who was a basketball star at Syracuse University, is married to former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb.
The family mantra was always to pick a sport, play it and play it to the best of your ability. That so many have succeeded makes for some lively talk when the closeknit clan gets together.
“There’s a ton of pride in the family,” said Sarah Nurse, who grew up five minutes away from Kia and remains close with the University of Connecticut Huskies star. “Even though we all play high-level sports and have had success as elite athletes, it’s great that everything is celebrated.
“My little brothers both got drafted into the OHL and even when they hadn’t played a game, it was celebrated. When Kia went to the Olympics (in 2016 in Rio), it was celebrated. Darnell playing in the NHL for the first time, we were excited. And me going to the Olympics with a chance to win a medal, that’s celebrated, too.”
It takes some work at times, but all remain diligent about keeping up with their fellow Nurses. Roger may be here in Korea to see Sarah play, but he was up in the middle of the night on Sunday following the Bulldogs- Soo Greyhounds game in which Isaac scored his 13th goal of the season.
As you might expect, Sarah Nurse had other sporting options growing up, volleyball and basketball among them. But her father helped guide her to the sport that he believed she shone brightest.
“I had a huge influence and push from my dad because he realized the potential in me growing up,” Nurse said. “I was always better at hockey than any other sport.”
Hamilton’s Sarah Nurse, right, is playing in her first Winter Olympic Games. The 23-year-old has plenty of international hockey experience, however, including a gold-medal win at the 2013 under-18 women’s championship in Finland.