How I Made It

Kia Nurse, WBNA Player

Kia Nurse is a Hamilton, Ont-born basketball player for the New York Liberty of the WNBA. Here, she tells FLARE how she made it

kia nurse smiles on white background wearing turquoise basketball jersey

Kia Nurse; @kianurse

How do you describe your job to your family?

In my athletic family, basketball is well-known and loved, but I’m the only who gets to say “I’m headed to work” on my way to practice.

Where did you go to school and what did you study?

I went to the University of Connecticut and created an individualized major. After applying and bringing my major to a faculty board for approval, I titled my studies “Sport and Media.” I complete courses from the schools of business, sport management and communications, which I also earned a minor in.

What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)

My first paying gig was with the New York Liberty of the WNBA.

Name one piece of career advice you always give.

It’s not always about [working a lot], but working smart. You can always go into the office (or the gym) and spend hours working on your craft. However, working smart means going into the office with goals you want to reach. For example, I go into the gym for extra work for 20 minutes or until I make 250 shots. That allows me to work with a focus, essentially making me work smarter.

What’s the most pressing issue facing women in your industry right now? What would fix it?

The most pressing challenge for female professional athletes is equal pay. Our industry is constantly fighting for higher wages. It is important to note that we are not asking to be paid exactly like NBA players, we are simply asking for better pay for the work that is being done.

A big part of the problem is our league’s revenue. If the league doesn’t have the revenue, it can’t increase pay. This is where visibility becomes important. People need to be able to watch WNBA games on television. Creating more fans of the WNBA would in turn produce more revenue. Visibility is also attached to sponsorships. Corporate sponsors need to promote the leagues and promote the players so people become familiar with our names and faces.

Looking to the future, what excites you the most about your career?

Being able to engage with the upcoming generation of young female athletes is the most exciting part of my career. I think sports has the potential to teach important life skills like communication, accountability, responsibility and so much more. Young women now, more than ever, are able to connect and follow their favourite female athletes on social media and see powerful, confident, and fearless women doing what they love on a daily basis. If I can help one young lady find her love for sports during my career, then I’ve been successful.

What worries you the most about your career?

Irrelevance. As a Canadian it is very hard to be a fan of the WNBA—we don’t have a WNBA team, nor do our sports channels show any WNBA games.

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