Darnell Nurse is pulling double duty during his trip to Edmonton this weekend.
The defenceman was wearing his Oilers hat/helmet on Friday as a special guest at Hockey School in St. Albert, and on Sunday he’ll be in big brother mode at the Saville Sports Centre cheering on sister Kia and the Canadian women’s basketball team in their first game at the FIBA Americas Championship.
“It’s a pretty good lineup for the weekend,” Nurse said between on-ice sessions at Oilers Hockey School. “It’s an opportunity to get into the community and come to the Hockey School, and obviously (Kia) is here so I want to watch her play.”
|Kia Nurse (photo courtesy of Basketball Canada) |
Kia has stolen the Nurse family spotlight this summer, leading Canada to a gold-medal performance at the Pan Am Games in Toronto with a remarkable 33 points in the championship game against the United States. The 19-year-old, who was picked as Canada’s flag-bearer for the Pan Am closing ceremonies, will look to continue her hot streak in Edmonton as the national team looks to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
And it hasn’t just been national team success for Kia in 2015. Despite being a first-year player, she was also starter at the University of Connecticut this past season and helped the Huskies capture the NCAA championship.
Darnell and Kia are children of Richard and Cathy Nurse, who played pro football in the CFL and Canadian university basketball for McMaster, respectively. Their older sister Tamika also played at the NCAA level. That must mean Darnell has some basketball skills in his blood too, right?
“No, none… I wish,” he laughed. “I can jump, but putting a ball in the hoop is a lot harder than it looks.”
Nurse said the family plays two-on-two games when they’re all home together, but when was the last time he and Kia squared off one-on-one?
“When I knew I could beat her, so probably when we were like eight years old,” he laughed. “After that I knew I had no chance. I gave up on that dream.”
Nurse’s pursuit of his dream to become a full-time NHL blueliner will continue at Oilers training camp in September, but for this weekend he’ll support Kia’s dream of becoming an Olympian.
The FIBA Americas Championship runs Aug. 9-16 at the Saville Centre. Tickets are available on-site and through Ticketmaster. Canada opens its round-robin schedule Sunday at 6:30pm MT vs. Puerto Rico.