It’s no secret – when it comes to athletic talent, STM is rich. There must be something in the water because even when it turns to ice, we still can’t help but be proud of our own Darnell Nurse. Do I even have to say which sport Nurse plays, or what he’s achieved so far? I daresay he’s the most interviewed STM athlete from the most athletic family in the school.
Darnell Nurse has recently returned to STM from Sault Ste. Marie where he plays defense for the Ontario Hockey League's Soo Greyhounds and attends high school at St. Mary's College during the hockey season.
Nurse, however, isn’t solely a hockey player. “We are all just human, no matter how good we are in sports, " says Nurse. This was very evident in his attitude. He’s the type of student, as MORE News witnessed, to apologize for being late for class and to rearrange desks for his own interview without being asked. Straightforward and honest with his answers, Nurse was more humble than many athletes with less than half his talent. He attributes this level-headedness to his family and friends. Nurse knows "there are always greater goals to be reached” and, by realizing this, he stays gounded.
If you’ve been following Junior hockey, you would have heard that Darnell Nurse is ranked fourth in this year’s NHL draft, taking place on June 30. In other words, you may soon be watching him play hockey on television, but on whose team, Nurse isn’t sure yet. “I have ideas of who it may be,” he says, but “there are always surprises . . . I’ll play for anyone. I’m just excited to be a part of it.”
Just how different will life be playing in the NHL? Nurse is already very used to traveling for hockey. In addition to the travelling he does with the Soo Greyhounds, a group of about 25 boys who “are like family,” hockey has taken Nurse to Sweden, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Austria, Germany, and the U.S.A. As for the NHL, Nurse surprisingly says “getting drafted is the easy part" [but] if you’re not improving, someone will take your spot. That’s the beauty of pro sports. You can take another person's spot, but someone is always coming for yours.”
As with anything great, there is always a trade-off. Extensive travel for competitions means school work and social events are the prices to pay for a semi-professional career in hockey. For Nurse, an ordinary day during the hockey season starts at 8:00 a.m. with a bit of breakfast before he hits the rink at 8:30 a.m. He fits in a workout before attending classes at 9:40 a.m. and then takes a short nap prior to returning to the ice from 3:00 – 7:00 p.m. To keep up, Nurse always “pays a lot more attention” in class, but has to finish a lot of his homework on the road. An example of the sacrifices that must be made is that Nurse doesn’t get to go to his graduation dinner/dance, but he said he'd "give that up if it means getting drafted.”
Now back at STM, Nurse credits teachers Mr. Fuciarelli and Mr. Matijasevich with helping him to adjust academically, as well as his family for providing ongoing support. If hockey doesn’t work out, Nurse plans to attend university in Sault Ste. Marie to become a corporate lawyer.
So what doesn’t the world know about Darnell Nurse? Well, he’s been teaching himself to play the piano by ear for some time now and he also plays a mean game of ping pong. His entire family is athletic and is “always competing at everything, even at the dinner table” (which Nurse thinks is “kind of scary actually.”) He even has his own hockey card that his younger cousins love to carry around. Interviews are “fun” and the “best part is getting different questions” each time. The most impressive fact about Nurse? He has the “greatest set of suit socks that any 18-year old boy has. [He wears] them with suits, jeans, and even to school.” For the record, he wore a striped and checkered pair during our interview.
“Hard work, consistency, and attention to detail is what sets people apart,” according to Nurse. Coming from someone who’s been hardworking, consistent and attentive to detail since he was discovered at age 13 playing with his OHL friends, it's definitely great advice for anyone who wants to excel in any area. As Darnell Nurse moves into adulthood with the rest of the graduating class this year, we can only wish this Knight the best as he skates towards his dream.