Most Canadian-born children pick up a hockey or lacrosse stick before thinking about basketball. UConn's Kia Nurse is a rare exception.
Born in Hamilton, Ontario, Nurse was raised in a family with a strong passion for sports. Not only did both of her parents compete as athletes when they were younger, but her older sister (Tanika) played basketball as well.
Additionally, Kia's brother Darnell was a first round draft choice (7th overall) by the National Hockey League's Edmonton Oilers in 2013. Kia is also the niece of former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, Donovan McNabb. Needless to say, the Nurse genes are programmed for athletic excellence.
Following the excitement of playing in her first ever AAC conference tournament, The UConn Blog caught up with the 19-year-old freshman for an exclusive one on one interview.
The UConn Blog: Growing up in Canada in a sports-oriented family, what or who influenced you to choose basketball?
Kia Nurse: "My sister was a basketball player, and both my parents were coaching her when I was born. So pretty much a couple days after I was born, I had to go to the gym because my sister had practice. I knew I always wanted to be like her. She was like the big idol in my eyes, and she pushed me towards basketball."
TUCB: Be honest, did your parents have favorites amongst you and your siblings?
KN: "They do not have favorites, if we're being politically correct! But definitely I think my dad was always with me because he was coaching our team. And my mom kinda stuck with my brother and got him to his games and practices. But whenever there was an off-weekend for one of us, we had both parents in the gym or the ice rink."
TUCB: How does the AAC conference tournament compare to the World Junior Hockey championship in terms of excitement for your family?
KN: "I definitely think our family has a lot of excitement all the time. There's always something going on, and something new to watch. For (Darnell) to be in that situation in the world juniors and that once in a lifetime opportunity was incredible. This being my first AAC tournament, my parents are coming down to watch, and my brother's texting me all the time about everything."
TUCB: Do you and your brother get a chance to speak often given your busy schedules?
KN: "Yes, definitely! The other day I actually called him to talk about how the season was going and that type of thing. It's him, my sister, my parents, anybody who will answer the phone. Unless they don't answer the phone haha! But definitely they're always there for advice!"
TUCB: Was there internal competition amongst you and your family members to be the best athlete in the household?
KN: "(We are an) Extremely competitive family. Everybody was always fighting about who has the most gold medals, at the dinner table. That was our usual conversation. And then it would branch out into schools that my mother and father went, and that just got messed up!"
TUCB: Who at UConn has helped you the most during your first year with the Huskies?
KN: "I would have to give it to more than one player. I think Moriah Jefferson has taught me a whole lot, because we play the same position. She's given me advice on how to do pretty much every single thing that's necessary to be a point guard here at UConn. And definitely Kaleena, Kiah, Morgan, and Stewie have all kind of just given me little tips here and there, and have shared their own personal experiences with me and that's made all the difference."
TUCB: Silly question, but I'm going to ask it anyway. Who's your favorite NHL team?
KN: "(Edmonton) Oilers. Yeah wherever my brother plays that's who I'll watch."