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The Canadian Kia Nurse hopes to be an inspiration at the WNBA exhibition in Edmonton on May 4

The Canadian Kia Nurse hopes to be an inspiration at the WNBA exhibition in Edmonton on May 4

When Kia Nurse was growing up in Hamilton, the closest professional basketball team she could see in person was the Toronto Raptors. Even though superstar Vince Carter was her favorite player, she couldn't see herself in him.

She hopes to change that feeling for young Canadian girls.

Nurse will lead the Los Angeles Sparks against the Seattle Storm at Edmonton's Rogers Place in an WNBA exhibition game on May 4. She said Tuesday that the pre-season event represents a real opportunity to inspire the next generation of Canadian talent.

“It may not be me they're hanging out with, there's 20 other people in the gym doing what I'm doing and they might be hanging out with one of them and that still advances the game, right?” The nurse said from her home in Los Angeles. “And that's when you have the opportunity as a little kid to say, 'That's my new favorite player.'

“For me, that was Maya Moore. I saw her on TV playing for UConn and I thought, 'Oh, I want to be like her' and look where I am now.”

The exhibition in Edmonton will be Canada's second WNBA game after a sold-out crowd at Toronto's Scotiabank Arena witnessed the Chicago Sky beat the Minnesota Lynx 82-74 on May 13.

Nurse said she was keen to have a direct impact on the young fans during the upcoming match.

“If someone follows in my footsteps and makes it to professional sports, that's great. If they don't and plays in college, that's great. If they don't and only plays in high school, that's great,” Nurse said. “All the things I learned about Basketball is the same things they will learn, no matter what level they reach.

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“I'm grateful for the opportunity to introduce some newbies to our sport and have them pick up the ball.”

Nurse was traded from Seattle to the Sparks on Jan. 31, but said there was no ill will toward her former Storm teammates.

“Whatever team I play on is an opportunity to play in the WNBA,” Nurse said. “There are only 144 of these opportunities, so I will take every one of them and be grateful for them.”

Her sister Tamika Nurse, who played NCAA basketball in the United States before moving into broadcasting, said holding the exhibition in Edmonton could be more impactful than last year's pre-season game in southern Ontario.

“I think Edmonton doesn't often get to see as much women's basketball action as Toronto has the luxury of,” she said, noting that Aaliyah Edwards of Kingston, Ont., led the UConn Huskies to Toronto Metropolitan University 111-34 in December. /December. 20. “I think Edmonton itself is actually a very big stronghold for women's basketball and I think they crave the ability to be seen and be in the stands.”

Although Nurse's family is from Hamilton, they have deep roots in Edmonton. Both Kia and Tamika played for the Canadian women's national team, which often trains in Alberta's capital, and their brother Darnell Nurse is a defenseman for the Oilers of the NHL.

The WNBA Canada game in Edmonton was originally scheduled for Sunday, May 5, but had to be postponed a day early in the event that the Oilers' playoff series again with the Los Angeles Kings goes to seven games. Kia's nurse said she was really happy with the change.

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“Saturdays are more fun than Sundays, in my opinion,” Kia, the youngest of the nurse’s siblings, said with a laugh. “What I'm really excited about is we've missed each other the last couple of years because it'll be in the playoff series, and I'll always end up in training camp.

“Now my parents are coming over here (to Los Angeles) so I think we can all have dinner together and then he'll play his games and we'll go watch them, and then we'll go back to Edmonton so I can get a full rest.” “One more week with my family.”

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