When you come from a family of respected athletes, greatness is expected – there’s a lot of pressure and high hopes for success. But 17-year-old high school senior, Kia Nurse, has not only handled the pressure with the poise of someone much older, she has also exceeded expectations by quickly becoming the youngest player on the Canadian senior women’s basketball team this year.
It started out innocently enough: Nurse was invited to watch the senior national team during training camp earlier this year without any strings or promises attached. But after the first day, team officials – perhaps as curious as they were impressed – kept asking her to return. That was May. Since then, Nurse went on to become one of the top scorers for Canada during the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship, averaging 10 points a game and shooting about 32 percent from the field.
“It’s a process. Once I got here everyone was really welcoming,” Nurse says about her new teammates. “They took me in and helped out with all the new stuff I was learning. Everyone has been extremely supportive.”
“It’s such an amazing experience. To be around all these veterans – you learn so much from them. It’s just such a great learning experience for me, to play at such a high level.”
To be fair, Nurse’s athletic success didn’t just happen overnight – she’s young but she’s hardly a rookie. The Hamilton native has been playing rep league basketball since the age of four. She started playing senior girls basketball for her high school in the 9th grade and was awarded Athlete of the Year honors that year and for the two years that followed. She has also won two national championships with Team Ontario, six provincial championships with her Hamilton Transway team, and collected a few medals in international play with Team Canada’s national age-group programs.
However, it wasn’t only Nurse’s athletic ability that made an impression on head coach for the Canadian senior team, Lisa Thomaidis. Yes, Nurse is a rare 6’0 point guard that can play defense as well as she can run offense, but Thomaidis was most impressed by something else she saw in the young talent.
“She’s a world-class athlete but that alone wouldn’t have gotten her on the team,” Thomaidis says. “There are all the intangibles that you want in your point guard – the toughness factor is probably right at the top of the list. She’s fearless. She won’t back down from anyone. And the maturity – her demeanor on the floor. She’s had some players right up against her and it doesn’t faze her. If anything, it makes her tougher and more focused.”
Nurse is also pretty realistic. She knows that as far as she’s come in a relatively short period of time, she still has work to do – like improving her outside shooting game, finishing strong against much bigger players and, of course, graduating from high school. At the time of production, Nurse had just scored 31 of St. Thomas More’s 52 points in a win over the St. Mary Crusaders at the 2013 Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association senior girls’ basketball championship game.
After having been courted by top Division I programs like Kentucky, Penn State, Tennessee, and Indiana, in November Nurse officially announced her commitment to play NCAA basketball with UConn.
At this rate, Nurse will be playing professionally sooner than we expect, guided by her mantra, “respect all, fear none” – perfectly suited to this young leader. And, in the spirit of a veteran much older than she, Nurse has a few important words of advice we could all use, regardless of age.
“Just don’t stop. Every little thing is an opportunity and every opportunity comes from all the hard work that you put in – all the behind the scenes things that happen,” she says. “Anything is possible until the impossibility is proven. You just got to keep working at it – never give up on anything.”
Editor’s Note: Kia Nurse committed to the University of Connecticut Huskies
BioSteel All-Canadian game to feature best female HS players
Canada’s best female high school players are about to step into the spotlight.
They’ll be front and centre March 31 at the inaugural BioSteel All Canadian Girls Basketball Game in Toronto, an historic event that showcases the next generation of female talent.
“The inclusion of a true nation-wide All Canadian Girls Game is the biggest step the All Canadian event has had happen since the inaugural Boys Game,” said Jesse Tipping, executive director of BioSteel All Canadian Games, in a statement.
“It has always been the intent of the management committee to work towards an event that includes both boys and girls showcased on a national stage. Just like on the boys’ side, female Canadian basketball players are playing at the highest level in the world and the growth of the game is truly seen across both genders.
“Canada Basketball has been an integral part in the facilitation of the girls’ events and we are thrilled to have their support.”
An eight-person selection committee will select 24 elite players to participate in the game, which tips off at 2 p.m. on March 31 at the University of Toronto’s Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport.
The selection committee will feature a cross-section of Canadian basketball stakeholders, including provincial and territorial representatives, clubs and coaches from across the country, according to a news release.
Girls selected to the game will participate in a variety of festivities, including practices, media availability and the 2019 Nike Skills Challenge.
Linh Nguyen, coordinator of high performance for Ontario Basketball, has been announced as chair of the Girls’ Selection Committee.
“I am extremely excited and honoured to be named as the Selection Committee chair,” said Nguyen. “Girls basketball in Canada has seen immense growth over the last few years, it is exciting to be able to showcase the talent and hard work of all the top student-athletes from across the country.”
BioSteel All Canadian Basketball Games is also set to host the first regional Nike All Canadian Girls Futures Game, which will feature top Grade 9 and 10 high school players from Ontario.
“BioSteel has always looked to support both boys and girls achieving their athletic dreams and we are excited to be able to launch this game and facilitate the growth of girls’ basketball in Canada,” said John Celenza, CEO and co-founder, BioSteel Sports Nutrition Inc.
“We look forward to watching the future success of all the girls participating in this event.”
15-Year Old Canadian Laeticia Amihere Throws Down Hard One-hander
The game is changing across Canada…
In a basketball first, 15-year old Laeticia Amihere became the first Canadian high school basketball to dunk in a basketball game.
In over 15 years of covering Canadian basketball I can’t recall a Canadian female attempt a dunk, rather completing one with oomph in game. The dunk has the Internets buzzing with Amihere’s name already being tossed around as potential No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA.