Rookie for­ward con­tin­ues ath­letic fam­ily line, writes Rob Lon­g­ley.

Ottawa Citizen - - WINTER OLYMPICS - Rlon­g­ley@post­

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.

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