UNITE: Kia Nurse
The Jordan Brand athlete talks about teamwork.
The UNITE stories go deeper on Jordan Brand’s new film series celebrating the power of basketball culture. UNITE is a rallying cry for inspiring and empowering the next generation to never fly alone.
Growing up, Kia Nurse had all of the athletic inspiration she needed right at home. Her family members, talented top-tier athletes with intensely goal-oriented mentalities, were her first teammates: her dad, Richard, played Canadian pro football; her mother, Cathy, played Canadian college basketball; her brother, Darnell, plays pro hockey for Edmonton; her sister, Tamika, played basketball for Oregon and Bowling Green; and her aunt, Raquel, was a point guard for Syracuse (and is married to retired pro football star, Donovan McNabb).
With a wealth of wisdom guiding her path, Kia learned how a fiery, competitive environment can create unbreakable bonds and push people to be the best versions of themselves. Between the three Nurse siblings, there was an endless stream of practices, games, tournaments and accomplishments. Seeing her brother and sister excel taught Kia to support the successes around her, rather than see them as competition for her individual wins.
“Learning to unite with my teammates has taught me so many lessons.”
These lessons exposed Kia to deeper values of teamwork, first through her family and then through various teams and leagues. As a kid, Kia remembers being part of a team that had the type of connection and longevity players dream of. “We had eight or nine core players, and they became my sisters and best friends,” she recalls. “We made plays that we didn’t even have to think about. It was then that I really understood the meaning of having power in numbers and playing to everyone’s strengths.”
Playing to others’ strengths helped Kia discover her own. While earning a degree at the University of Connecticut (after getting recruitment offers from over 50 schools), she helped maintain UConn’s incredible bar for basketball excellence. In four years, her teams went 148-3 and took home two national championships. “Learning to unite with my teammates has taught me so many lessons,” says Kia. “The biggest part is that we come from all different walks of life. It’s an education process, even when we share a common goal. Respecting each others’ differences helps with accountability, communication and more.”
Kia has been able to broaden her horizons by playing outside of her home country. During her high school and college years, she was invited to play for Canada on multiple world stages. “There’s no greater feeling than being able to put that jersey on and play for your country,” says Kia. “You’re representing so many people, the people who sacrificed for you and supported you from the start.”
Now, as one of women’s professional basketball’s most exciting young players, and a guard for the New York Liberty and Canberra Capitals, Kia hopes her story will galvanize young players to work together. “There are so many lessons you can learn while playing basketball,” explains Kia. The biggest ones for me are confidence, communication and understanding that no matter what you’re doing in life, you have to believe in yourself and your dreams. Ask yourself, ‘How do I talk to people? How do I get my point across? What’s the best way to do it?’ Knowing those answers and having a team mindset will help you — no matter what you’re doing.”
Learn more about UNITE here and look forward to more stories in the coming months.