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Rookie Diary: The Transition by Kia Nurse

Kia Nurse. Photo by: Stacy Podelski/1495Sports

With the tenth pick in the 2018 WNBA draft, the New York Liberty selected University of Connecticut’s two-time national champion Kia Nurse. Since transitioning to the WNBA, the rookie guard and Ontario native hasn’t wasted time putting her talents to work. The instant fan favorite is a consistent threat anywhere on the perimeter and a lockup defender. But who is she off the court? This season, Nurse invites you to get to know the person behind the player setting records on the court as she settles into rookie life. Follow along!

The transition

Like most athletes, I have answered numerous questions throughout my career about my strengths and weaknesses as a player. I will be the first to admit, I can list off my weaknesses in a matter of seconds, and that list is always much longer than my strengths. But, for as long as I can remember my father always told me to focus on transition. Be dangerous in transition. For the most part I think I have made him pretty proud with my transition game on the court, but when I arrived in Westchester, New York the word transition took on a whole new meaning.

Take transition in a basketball game. Your team forces a turnover and in an instant the ball is headed in the other direction. Maybe it’s an unforced turnover or just a mistake in the flow of the game, either way the play takes on a new level of pace and you’re forced to change direction while your defensive or offensive mindset is flipped. Well, when I packed my car to the brink and made a two-hour trip from my familiar apartment in Storrs, Connecticut to my new home in New York, I started my transition. Within the natural flow of life, I was experiencing a “turnover”. I went from an offensive mindset where I was familiar with my surroundings, teammates, coaches, schedule, and lifestyle to a defensive mindset where this overly outgoing kid had to become an adult quickly.

My transition consisted mainly of questions like, “what am I going to do with my free time…I have no homework?”, “should I adopt a dog?”, “when are all my friends coming to visit me?”, and “what is there to do in White Plains tonight?”. I am glad to report with my free time I binge Netflix, read (anything Ruth Ware), watch Family Feud on the Game Show Network (it never stops airing), and eat Cold Stone Creamery (one of the workers literally knows me by name now). Sadly, I did start the puppy adoption process but it fell through after I fell in love with this handsome little guy named Hog. Glad to report after saying goodbye to one of my best friends in the area because they had to return to school, more friends from back home will be visiting on a heavy rotation the next couple of weeks, and White Plains mall, our hectic game schedule, and my teammates do a good job of keeping me occupied.

More than teammates

Now, 19 games into the season I don’t find myself using the word “new” very much. I have caught the hang of the schedule, the way practice is run, our coaching staff, and my teammates. I guess I should tell you a little more about them.

I constantly tell people that I truly believe I was fortunate enough to be drafted into one of the best situations. Yes, as a team we are currently facing adversity, but I love my teammates. They are fun-loving, hardworking, passionate women who are inspiring to be around everyday. I mean Bria Hartley is a real life superwoman balling out every night and raising an energetic happy little boy. In my bias opinion I am his favorite (second to his mom of course), but he is one-year-old and can’t speak so I’m basing this assumption off of our play time in the airports. But in all honesty, each and everyone of my teammates are willing to take me aside during practice to help me focus on little things that will ultimately make me a better player. I also appreciate the nights when a random text asks if I want to grab dinner or hangout. I have been welcomed into the Liberty family by these incredible high-character women who are willing to share their experience based knowledge on a daily basis.

Throughout the last few weeks we have spent most of our time on the road. A west coast trip meant ridiculous heat in Las Vegas and a chance for me to visit with some family members. Perhaps one of the biggest differences from college is the travel. It felt like we went weeks without a formal lengthy practice because our schedule included back-to-back games, numerous flights and travel days, and constant movement from city to city. Thankfully I inherited my father’s ability to sleep anywhere and at anytime. On the road you truly learn the importance of having to take care of yourself. Even when you are exhausted from traveling you have to feed yourself and get treatment if needed. I have tried to explore a little bit in every city we go to. Our Chicago hotel was in walking distance of the lake front which was one of my favorite places to sit and watch the waves. I am excited to continue battling alongside my teammates this season. Stay tuned for some more of my rookie diary coming soon!

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