Sarah Nurse from Hamilton is a gold plated Canadian model

Even before those Olympics — even before a late-night gold medal game halfway around the world where a pandemic-weary country talks about women’s hockey above anything else — Sarah Nurse was a role model.

So what is the level above model? What should we call it now?

“Role model” will always go down well because that’s what the 27-year-old Hamilton native is, has been for a long time and will continue to be. When you conduct yourself on and off the ice in such a way that girls, young women and, yes, even men, can clearly see in you a stronger, approachable version of themselves, you are a role model. fundamental.

The nurse is not the only one in this case. Individually and as a group, Team Canada, now reigning world and Olympic champions, is setting a standard for other female athletes to strive for. And so do members of their hockey counterparts, the Americans who lost 3-2 to Canada in Wednesday’s gold medal game. Rivals so bitter, yet so supportive as they continue to try to create, say, a global updraft for women’s hockey.

Starting with the extraordinary Marie-Philip Poulin, women’s hockey is full of great examples of responding to prejudice and pandemics with talent, growth, sense of occasion, perseverance and great principles. And while Nurse, like her teammates, always relies on the collective, she drives one of the race cars in this cavalcade.

Nurse set a new Women’s Olympic Singles Tournament record for points previously held by the iconic Hailey Wickenheiser and was named to the tournament’s All Star team.

She is the first black player to win an Olympic gold medal in women’s hockey and for a decade has spoken loudly, publicly and clearly in support of important social causes, particularly around diversity and inclusion.

Marie-Philip Poulin #29, Sarah Nurse #20, Renata Fast #14 and Ann-Renee Desbiens #35 of Team Canada celebrate after beating Team USA 3-2 in the gold medal game women early Thursday morning.

She is also a central figure in the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, committed to creating a better hockey environment for future generations of women by establishing a sustainable professional league.

Nurse injured her knee in October and did not return to the ice in a competitive situation before the Olympics. Two weeks ago, she was on Canada’s fourth line, but she still scored three goals in Game 2 against Finland.

When Emily Clark had to miss Game 3 against Russia due to test result issues, Nurse jumped to the front row with Poulin and Brianne Jenner and stayed there until the last second of the tournament when she was on the ice to defend themselves against the brave Americans. ‘desperate stampede.

Nurse had scored the first goal of the game and had an assist on Poulin’s eventual gold winner, and think about that for a moment. The last time Canada won the Olympics eight years ago, Poulin also scored the 3-2 winner and the assist came from Laura Fortino, another Hamiltonian.

Hamilton's Sarah Nurse #20 and Team Canada's Claire Thompson #42 celebrate with their teammates on the bench after Nurse scored in the first period in Canada's 3-2 gold medal win in Beijing.

With the exception of a goal last week against Russia, every goal Nurse has scored for Team Canada in his four World Championships or Olympic tournaments has been against another medal-winning team. It’s not up to the occasion, it’s skyrocketing.

Nurse comes from Hamilton’s first athletic family, but she also inherits regional women’s hockey DNA, most strongly symbolized by the Hamilton Golden Hawks of the 1980s and 1990s and, in recent years, the Stoney Creek Sabres, Nurse’s and Fortino’s alma mater.

Some current young Sabers may have been part of Nurse’s ubiquitous Sport Chek publicity and you can picture those players with awe, but because she once stood where they are now, also imagining herself as the ‘next Sarah Nurse”.

Every athlete’s journey has its ups and downs. For Sarah Nurse, the road to the Canadian Olympic hockey team has not always been easy. But with hard work and a love for the game, she achieved her dreams. When you find what moves you, it gets you through.

He’s a role model.

Rebecca R. Santistevan