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Liberty’s Nurse Living Out Her Dream

New York Liberty guard Kia Nurse has been one of the most entertaining rookies in the WNBA, Exhibit A (watch bench, upper left corner):

“I used to be in all the talent shows when I was in elementary school,” Nurse recalled. “Entertainment is definitely one of my hidden talents.”

What is not hidden is the impressive start Nurse has gotten off to in New York, scoring double digits in six of her seven games played so far. She is averaging 14.6 points per game, which places her top-20 in the WNBA.

After being selected 10th overall by the New York Liberty, many fans have already touted her the biggest steal of the 2018 Draft.

“It’s nice to be considered [a steal],” said Nurse. “For me, the draft was just an opportunity and any way I was able to play, I was excited for that chance. Fortunately for me, I’ve been surrounded by this kind of  professionalism for a long time. I consider myself to be playing well and transitioning well so if I’m a steal, I’m a steal – I’ll take that.”

Nurse has caught the eye of the league early on with the amount of responsibility she assumes on offense already in her young career, often closing out games and being a key role of the Liberty attack from deep. But Nurse attributes this big role early on to how she handles herself in practice.

“Through practice each and every day I try to show my teammates and my coaches that I am a trustworthy person on the court,” Nurse said. “Somebody that they can go to in times of need, whether that be defensively or offensively and the amount of trust they’ve shown and the amount of confidence they’ve given me throughout this transition period has been so great and I’ve been so thankful for that.”

Growing up in Hamilton, Ontario, Nurse recalls her upbringing as hectic – but in a good way.

“I was pretty crazy, all over the place. I had a lot of energy all the time,” Nurse reminisced about her childhood. “My parents said I threw a lot of temper tantrums but I was trying to follow what my siblings did through track, soccer, played some volleyball here and there but basketball was the one I stuck with.”

Sticking with basketball was the right move, as Nurse went on to excel with UConn and found her way to playing for the Canadian National Team. Representing Canada at the highest level in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 was an experience Nurse will carry for the rest of her life.

“There’s no greater feeling in the world than representing your country,” Nurse proudly said. “Wearing the name across your chest – especially in the Olympics, that was a big thing for me. When you get out there the first game and the rings are on the walls and all over the place – that was something really special for me.

“Canada’s been a place where I’ve grown up, where I’ve learned so much about myself and it’s been home. It will always be home and I think for me being such a proud Canadian, I’ve absolutely loved playing for the National Team.”

Nurse also carries an extensive family lineage of professional athletes, from her brother Darnell Nurse of the Edmonton Oilers to her uncle Donovan McNabb, former star quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.

“With my family, it’s always a competition. It’s always an argument about something,” Nurse said of her family. “But you always have somebody who’s there who’s been through the same things you’ve been through. They helped turn me into the person I am today by just based on what they’ve accomplished in their careers and what they’ve decided to pass forward with me.”

Nurse keeps a level head to the position that she’s in, and being able to start in New York with the Liberty organization is something she does not take for granted.

“Starting in New York has been absolutely incredible. Every morning I wake up, I’m fortunate to be in this position with such a great coaching staff, such great teammates and an organization that has such a great fan base as well,” Nurse said. “My vets are incredible, they will take me under their wing at any moment or pull me aside to try and help me out whether that be on the court, or off the court. I think that just speaks to the character of who they are willing to share their experience with me.”

Having just graduated from UConn this past May, Nurse is now transitioning into the life of a pro, but that doesn’t come without its challenges.

“A lot of free time, it’s kind of boring sometimes,” Nurse said of how she’s adjusting to her new life. “But it’s better than a 9-to-5 job so I can’t complain about it. It’s a lot of fun, obviously the fact that I walk to practice and say this is my job and do something I love every day – there’s no better world than that.”

As for that free time, Nurse has been finding ways to fill it.

“On off days I just sleep. I’m not really an exciting person. I don’t think I am – my parents think I am,” Nurse said. “I spend a lot of time in the malls just buying random things and watching Netflix. I like to read, murder mysteries usually, sometimes I read some nonfiction stuff too, which is kind of interesting.”

What does she watch and read, you may ask?

“I just finished ‘You are a Badass’ by Jen Sincero,” Nurse said. “Ruth Ware just came out with a book and she’s my favorite author so I will be grabbing that book within the next week so I can finish that off. On Netflix, I’m catching back up on ‘Riverdale’ now, ‘The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’, ‘The Office’, ‘Parks and Rec’, ‘House’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ – I’ve pretty much watched all of those.”

As Nurse continues to build on this great rookie campaign, she wants to leave a legacy of dedication in her time in the WNBA.

“When it’s all said and done, I just want to make sure people understand that I put my heart and soul into everything,” Nurse said. “Everytime that I’m on the court, whether that be at a game or in practice. And just trying to play the role that the team wants me to play at this point, whether that be offensively or defensively.”