Sarah Nurse inspiring next generation of female hockey players, on-and-off the ice

By Lindsay Dunn and Meredith Bond

Sarah Nurse recently made international headlines after becoming the first Black woman to win ice hockey gold at the Beijing Winter Olympics. But for Nurse, one of her goals has been working to make sports more inclusive, especially for women in the hockey community.

Nurse and her Canadian teammates won the gold medal in an exciting 3-2 win against the United States. Nurse herself finished with a goal and an assist. It was her second Olympics after capturing silver in Pyeongchang.

But what she hopes Canadians will remember is her and her teammates’ contributions off the ice.

“I think it’s funny because while we are in it, it’s not something we are consciously thinking about, and I know for my teammates and me being able to inspire and really invigorate the next generation is something that is so important,” Nurse told CityNews.

“The women who came before us like Jayna Hefford and Cassie Campbell, they did that for us in their way, so the fact that we can be that for [others] is pretty special, and for us, that’s all we ever really wanted to do.”

Nurse is also a part of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHA), pushing for one viable professional women’s ice hockey league in North America.

Currently, the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) has six teams across the U.S. and Canada, previously known as the National Women’s Hockey League. It became the first women’s league to pay players in 2015.

Her inspirational demeanour for women across the country led to her face being put on a Cheerios box.

“I think it’s funny when I see myself on a box of Cheerios. I don’t picture it as myself,” Nurse shared. “I think back to when I was five or six years old and seeing a picture of a women’s hockey player on a box of cereal, and I can’t even imagine how ecstatic I would’ve been, so I think just for representation for women’s hockey and women’s sport in general, it’s huge.”

For Nurse, bringing home a gold medal has been a dream since she was a child. During the 2022 Winter Games, she racked up 18 points and 13 assists — both Olympic records for a single tournament.

It didn’t take Nurse long to share the news when she and her teammates quickly changed their biographies on Instagram to include “gold medal winner.”

“It was something we talked about. We were sitting around as a team, and we just sat there together and were like, ‘Oh my gosh guys, we get to change our Instagram bio now,’ so it was pretty quickly after.”

A special moment for Nurse at the Games was when teammate Brianne Jenner put the medal around her neck.

“I just remember her looking at me and then putting the medal around my neck and saying, ‘You have earned this, and I’m proud of you,’ and I think it’s a special moment I’ll definitely cherish forever.”

Nurse and some of her teammates will once again face some of their Olympic adversaries when they take on Team USA as a part of the PWHPA’s Dream Gap tour in Pittsburgh on March 12.

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