Sarah Nurse on EA Sports activities cowl historical past, ladies in hockey and judging ‘Drag Race’

Sarah Nurse was on trip, having simply helped Group Canada to Olympic gold in Beijing, when the decision arrived.

It was EA Sports activities. They have been questioning if Nurse was thinking about making historical past.

“They requested me if I wished to be on the quilt of NHL 23 and I used to be like, ‘Certain, if you happen to like me, I might like to be part of that. I believe that it might be tremendous superior,'” Nurse mentioned.

In response to EA Sports activities, Nurse is the primary ladies’s hockey participant to grace the quilt of its NHL franchise. She’s one in every of two cowl athletes for NHL 23, becoming a member of Anaheim Geese sensation Trevor Zegras because the faces of the newest version, which will probably be launched Oct. 14.

“It is an enormous second, each for EA and the NHL,” mentioned Clem Kwong, lead producer for EA Sports activities NHL sequence.

Kwong mentioned EA had thought-about placing a ladies’s participant on the quilt of the sport in earlier seasons. He mentioned Nurse aligned with the sport’s goals to push hockey ahead right into a extra inclusive and accessible place.

“After we began going by the method and looking out on the quick checklist of athletes, we have been in search of athletes that have been on the largest stage,” he mentioned. “Sarah is a really expert athlete. While you’re speaking about pace and creativity, she’s confirmed that on the largest stage. She’s a pioneer in inclusivity and variety inside the sport, too.”

Having a ladies’s participant on the quilt of NHL 23 appeared like extra of a risk when EA Sports activities added IIHF ladies’s championship match groups in an NHL 22 growth pack final Christmas, marking the primary time ladies’s gamers have been included within the recreation. “So this was a deliberate development in that sense,” Kwong mentioned. “Get the ladies’s license within the recreation first after which increase on that.”

It is a game-changing second for EA Sports activities and comes at a time when Kwong sees curiosity in ladies’s hockey skyrocketing.

“The development line for ladies’s hockey is simply upward trajectory proper now,” he mentioned. “The skilled ladies’s leagues have not fairly discovered the right way to do it but, however it’s only a matter of time. Sarah’s excellent there and we’re so happy with our partnership together with her.”

ESPN spoke with Nurse lately about showing within the cowl, Group Canada’s dominance, the strides ladies have made within the NHL and her stint as a decide on “Canada Drag Race.”

On the day of our interview, members of the Canadian ladies’s nationwide group launched an open letter to Hockey Canada to say they’re going to be “a part of the combat for the reality” into allegations of sexual assault made towards males’s gamers, saying they’d additionally search a task in reforming the group. Nurse declined to touch upon the matter, however would tweet a replica of that letter herself later within the day.

ESPN: What does it imply to you to be the primary girl on the quilt of an EA Sports activities NHL recreation?

Nurse: It is such an enormous honor to be the primary girl on the quilt of NHL 23. It is one thing that I by no means even thought was within the realm of prospects. I by no means even dreamed of being on it. And so I believe that it is large and I believe that it simply speaks for the place ladies’s hockey is true now. The visibility and the worth that folks see in ladies’s hockey. And so I am so proud that I can signify such an enormous neighborhood of completely unbelievable hockey gamers.

ESPN: What are your ideas on the quilt with you and Trevor now that you’ve got seen the completed product?

Nurse: I believe it is unbelievable. Being there on the shoot in California, capturing the quilt was so cool. They actually wished to indicate us their imaginative and prescient with the palm bushes. Actually simply make it enjoyable and funky, and never your conventional hockey pose or something like that. I really like the quilt. I believe that it will catch folks’s eye. You are going to entice much more folks to need to attempt the sport.

ESPN: What is the online game tradition like on Group Canada? We all the time hear tales about Stanley Cup playoff groups having Mario Kart tournaments on the street. Is it like that in worldwide tournaments, too?

Nurse: Video video games are fairly huge, relying on what circle you are working in on the group. We positively have some huge avid gamers. We’ve got ladies who’re deliver their gaming consoles on the street with us, which is fairly superior.

I do know on the Olympics my roommates have been really taking part in NHL 22 as Group Canada — a little bit little bit of a manifestation approach all through the Olympics. We gained a pair world championships [in the game] whereas we have been on the Olympics. However our group positively loves the sport. I like to observe them as they play, as a result of a number of them are higher than me, however I positively take pleasure in.

ESPN: Every time we discuss ladies’s hockey, we discuss illustration and the way vital that’s. Like a little bit lady attending to see you put on a gold medal, for instance. Making the quilt and having ladies’s gamers in an EA Sports activities recreation looks as if an actual second to that finish, does not it?

Nurse: It is positively large. And I take into consideration myself, , as a younger child, desirous to play NHL and I by no means ever thought that I may very well be within the recreation or {that a} girl can be within the recreation. So I believe that for me, it might’ve been game-changing. And for younger ladies, I hope that it is recreation altering and that they’ll see themselves in skilled hockey due to a online game like this.

However once more, like, I additionally hope that for the little boys, additionally they see ladies in sports activities as regular. That it isn’t one thing that is a one-off that occurs each from time to time. Girls in sports activities are right here to remain. I hope that the following era and that everyone who desires to play this recreation is ready to see that.

ESPN: You mentioned again in March that we’re getting very shut to a professional ladies’s league in Canada. The place are we on that proper now?

Nurse: We’re nonetheless very, very shut. It is exhausting to maintain issues below wraps. It is extremely, very exhausting as we transfer ahead all through this course of, however the course of has been essential to us and we need to do issues proper. I do know that we have stored issues a little bit hush-hush, however there are such a lot of thrilling issues which might be in movement and which might be con going to proceed to be in movement within the subsequent coming months. So positively keep tuned as a result of ladies’s skilled hockey is coming and it is going to be very, very nice.

ESPN: Girls’s worlds begins Thursday, having been rescheduled on account of issues over COVID-19. Have you ever ever been to Denmark earlier than?

Nurse: I’ve by no means been to Denmark, however I am very excited to be there in the summertime. I believe that is a change from, , a winter wherever else.

ESPN: Canada was a steamroller within the Olympics. As an American, it actually ticked me off to no finish how good you guys have been. However you have been superb, and as Canada heads to Worlds, is that this a peak for the ladies’s group?

Nurse: This was such a particular group and I hope that we are able to replicate it going into Denmark. I’ve a lot confidence within the group that we’ve. I believe that our success got here from us specializing in the method and simply desirous to be the most effective group potential. We weren’t desirous about a gold medal recreation. We considered each single recreation individually, as a result of we’re not assured a gold medal recreation. It does not say ‘Group Canada taking part in for a gold medal,’ ?

ESPN: Properly, that is large information for the remainder of the world. That Canada does not even have a bye to the gold medal recreation.

Nurse: [Laughs] We did not notice how a lot we meant to Canada till we introduced dwelling the gold medal. We’re very enthusiastic about our group and as we proceed on transferring ahead. We’re simply hoping to maintain pushing the tempo and preserve altering the sport. I believe the fashion that we performed in Beijing was a mode that has by no means been seen in ladies hockey earlier than. So I actually hope that we are able to proceed that and proceed to make one another nation higher.

ESPN: Moreover the EA Sports activities cowl, the opposite largest Sarah Nurse offseason information was that you just have been a decide on “Canada’s Drag Race.” How did that come about?

Nurse: Oh my goodness. I fangirled the complete time I used to be at “Drag Race.” I’ve been such a giant fan of “Drag Race” for years. Like, it is on a continuing loop in my home. [Laughs]

I received a name from them after the Olympics and I am really going to be on the finale, which was so cool. The Queens are so extremely proficient. I appreciated them a lot earlier than, however it gave me much more of an appreciation for them. I received to see all of the Queens carry out, stroll the runway. I received to spend three hours in hair and make-up myself. I’m so excited and I am unable to watch for the finale to air. I need to see who wins, too!

ESPN: So what’s the important thing to judging a drag competitors?

Nurse: Actually, it is simply, it’s important to hype all people up. You simply need to hype all people up and also you simply need to be trustworthy, utterly trustworthy. At that time within the finale, like all people had carried out such a great job. I clearly missed the entire season. I simply received there for this finale, however all people had simply such an unbelievable job. So at that time I used to be simply hyping all people up. I used to be like, ‘You might be so good. You need to be right here.’ It was a number of enjoyable.

ESPN: Lastly, it has been a landmark offseason for ladies in hockey. A number of ladies have been promoted to assistant common managers and others have been named to hockey operations roles, like your teammate Marie-Philip Poulin with the Montreal Canadiens. What’s been your response to that?

Nurse: I believe that it is so spectacular. Girls are clearly having a fairly large seat at tables inside the NHL, and I believe that it simply speaks to the place our recreation is at and the worth of the ladies. The ladies who’ve been employed inside completely different positions all through the NHL know their stuff. They know what they’re doing, and so they’re the most effective folks for these positions.

Clearly seeing folks getting assistant GM positions, seeing one in every of my teammates and mates, Marie-Philip Poulin, in a position to work with the Montreal Canadiens is unbelievable. I believe that these boys are so fortunate that they get to study from probably the greatest hockey gamers on the planet. There’s only a respect round ladies in sports activities and understanding that ladies have an excellent place in hockey.