Basketball: Kia Norse returns to Canada’s World Cup squad

In early August, when Britney Greiner was sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia, Kia Norse and her Phoenix Mercury teammates watched horrific court proceedings on their phones in the locker room.

Mercury hosted the Connecticut Sun later that day, and players from both teams hugged in midfield before the game for 42 seconds of silence, referring to the Grind shirt number with Phoenix FC.

“It was really difficult to play this match. I don’t know how my teammates were doing. A nurse admitted, it was really difficult to play an entire season without her.

The 26-year-old protector Hamilton returns to the Canadian national team at the Women’s Basketball World Cup in Australia, in her first official appearance since she ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee on October 6.

The nurse held back tears on Monday as she recalled the darkest day of the season, Mercury’s “Hell on Earth.”

“BG is the best among humans,” she said of Griner, an eight-time WNBA star who was convicted of drug possession and trafficking after less than one gram of cannabis oil was found in his luggage.

“It was great not to have him on the pitch this season, not to take advantage of his attitude and energy? And the fact that she is not at home yet is frustrating. We did everything we could as a team to make sure his story was known, to make sure his name was given as much as possible? But you go into training? She wonders what she is doing.”

Mercury did his best in his absence.

“We continue to keep her in our prayers, to keep her family in our prayers, to make sure she knows she is loved and unforgettable, and to focus as much as possible on those who have the power to make the decisions to bring her in,” the nurse said.

desert crossing

The nurse’s knee injury made last year the most difficult year of her career.

“There were a lot of good days, a lot of bad days, a lot of tears, a lot of anger, but also a lot of small victories along the way,” the nurse said on a video call from Sydney, Australia. Physically, things went well. But mentally, it was tough. There have been ups and downs. »

She spent several months of rehab at her home in Ontario, where she had the support of her boyfriend John Robinson IV and his family.

“Poor John shared all my good days, and bore my bad moods,” laughed the nurse.

She also sought advice from her brother Darnell, a defensive man for the Edmonton Oilers, and her uncle Donovan McNab, a 13-year-old NFL veteran who also tore her ACL.

“We’ve been through hell on earth this year as a team,” said a nurse. One of the hardest things was not being able to be with them and here my patience was tested. I wasn’t as patient as I would have liked, but it’s practical and even at this point I can’t do anything to speed it up. »

The Canadians opened the World Cup against Serbia on Thursday (11 p.m. Wednesday), then face France, Japan, Australia and Mali in the group stage. The nurse, who last played for the national team at the Tokyo Olympics as Canada failed to qualify for the preliminary round, is hoping to increase her playing time with each match.

Veteran Natalie Ashonua, who suffered a ruptured ACL in her final season at Notre Dame, reassured the nurse, telling her not to “put the weight on her shoulders”.

“She looks great,” Ashunwa said. I tell Kia every day that she just needs to be herself. I’ve been there and realize the psychological and emotional stress it takes. »

“She lives it every day and it’s like, ‘Let’s celebrate the little victories?’ But Kia did really well in practice and in both show games (against China and Puerto Rico). I’m very happy to see her and be with her again on the court.”

Physically, a nurse noticed she was stronger than ever because she was confined to the weight room for much of her rehab. She added that she did not forget how to pass, dribble or shoot, it is all about being able to do everything faster.

Mentally, she says, she realized she was “really resilient.”

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