Another championship game, another championship for the Nurse family.
Defenseman Darnell Nurse, the Edmonton Oilers’ 2013 first-round draft pick, powered Team Canada to a 5-4 victory over Russia to win the Gold Medal at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship in January.
Wednesday night, guard Kia Nurse, Darnell’s younger sister, scored nine points to help the University of Connecticut Huskies capture their third consecutive NCAA Division I women’s basketball championship, the school’s 10th overall. The Huskies defeated Notre Dame 63-53 in Tampa, Fla.
“It’s the pinnacle of women’s basketball,” proud papa Richard Nurse told the hometown Hamilton Spectator before the game. “Outside of the Olympics there isn’t a bigger stage for women’s basketball than the NCAA championship.”
The Nurses are a close-knit, athletic family
-and highly competitive. Father Richard Nurse was a wide receiver for the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats; his wife, Cathy, was a stellar basketball player for Canada’s McMaster University.
Their older daughter, Tamika, played basketball at the University of Oregon and Bowling Green State University. Richard Nurse’s brother, Roger, was a standout lacrosse player in Canada. Their sister, Raquel, was a Syracuse University hoops standout and is married to former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.
Kia and Darnell’s cousin, Sarah Nurse, plays hockey for the University of
Wisconsin. Her younger brother, Elijah Nurse, was drafted by the Ontario Hockey League’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, the Canadian major junior team Darnell plays for.
Kia Nurse gravitated to the hardwood rather than the hard ice. Still, her father says that she has a hockey player’s mentality on the court.
“Besides being extremely skilled, she’s a nasty piece of business,” he once told me. “She’s very physical.”
Big brother Darnell wasn’t able to attend Kia’s game on Tuesday night. His Greyhounds were preparing to play the Guelph Storm in the second round of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs.
But most of the family – including McNabb – was in Tampa to cheer and celebrate. And the Nurses becoming a two-sport, two-championship household wasn’t lost on the hockey world.
Darnell Nurse team Canada photo by Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images.