Parenting Athletes with Hockey Dad Roger Nurse

Ice hockey team

Written by: Where Parents Talk Staff

Published: Aug 1, 2023

By: Katherine Johnson Martinko

When asked to describe his own parenting style, Roger Nurse says he has always strived for a great relationship with his kids, while maintaining the role of family leader. “I made a big effort to be a good dad, fun dad, enjoyable dad—but the kids still knew who the boss was.” 

A teacher, coach, referee, and hockey dad, Nurse knows a few things about raising athletic kids. His daughter Sarah is a member of Canada’s national women’s hockey team, and his two sons also played hockey at a high level. 

Click for video transcription

Welcome to where parents talk. My name is Lianne Castelino. Our guest today is a teacher, a coach and a referee. Roger nurse was a high level athlete in his own right, competing for Canada in lacrosse. He’s also a hockey dad. All three of his children play hockey at a high level. His daughter Sarah nurse is a member of Canada’s national women’s team. Roger nurse joins us today from Hamilton, Ontario. Thank you so much for being here.
Thanks for having me, man.

What what led to sport being such a cornerstone of yours and your family’s life?
It’s really interesting because my parents weren’t the most athletic people you know, and you kind of I funny story keep tend to find out a little bit later because I came to Canada. I was two years old. My parents came with some of my brothers and sisters, some were born here. And you know, my dad, my mom said, you play a little bit of soccer. We never saw him play soccer. We see my dad fumble the ball a few other times. Like that doesn’t look that good. So we’re not sure how athletic my my parents were, but I know my mom was not. But one of my dad’s friends said to him, because you were energetic kids. And my brother was it was a year and a half older than me. He was he was a fireball. And one of his friends at work said hey, you know here in Canada, Canadian kids play hockey in the winter, and they play lacrosse in the summer. So that kind of became the thing. So my brother played hockey, then he played lacrosse, and you know, I’m a year and a half younger. So of course, I’m just following along. I’m going to the rink and going to the park. I’m going to the field, the floor, wherever. And it just started that way. We started playing, you know, he played hockey, I didn’t play hockey, formally played a lot of Shini and all that stuff. I played lacrosse and then we got into school sports and it was just what we did. We just kind of played sports. As we got into high school. We played by play football, play basketball, school sports, like elementary school, volleyball, soccer. So we did a little of everything and it’s just a passion. It’s just the passion like we just, we just love it. I still remember watching TV and my dad was you know, you put on the leafs. You know, back in that run. That was Dave Keon days. And I was just a little wide eyed five year old watching the leafs and this hockey thing is great. And just Darryl Sittler was my favorite all time player. I missed meeting him by about a minute and a half a few months ago, which was kind of devastating. But you know, that was my guy. I remember watching like my first memories. The NBA was the buffalo Braves. I think they went I’m not sure where they went maybe a Sacramento but they were in Buffalo for like a year or two. And Bob McAdoo was their star. And you know, and then when I started really following the NBA, the Showtime, Lakers and Bob McAdoo went there. So it’s like, Hey, here’s like that. This is my first like basketball idol was was Bob McAdoo. Here’s with my guy, Magic Johnson Lee. So it was just a lot of that Reggie Jackson, the 70s in the 7576 World Series, watching his three arm goes to my earliest memories of sports. And I was hooked. So when I had kids, it just kind of was it was natural. It was like, my kids are gonna get into sports. I’m gonna give them every opportunity to play sports to learn sports. And you know, they just stuck to it. We had baseball gloves, baseball bats all over the house or soccer balls, like we throw. Right now we’re going through a lot of purging. And I’m just finding a lot of stuff when they were little kids like a little baseball bat, that’s about two and a half feet long that they were swinging when they were three years old. And, you know, it’s like, do we keep this as a souvenir? It’s like, no, let’s get rid of it. And I saw one of their little baseball gloves. And we just gave him the opportunity, all the exposure, try everything. See what you like and the way you go.
It’s so interesting to hear you describe that coming from parents that weren’t athletes themselves, being one of eight children and following probably each other around you describe your older brother, and all of that. And then being able to share that passion with your kids. It doesn’t always happen right and your kids have played or are playing at a pretty high level. In what ways would you say that sport has been influenced the way that you parent?
Well, you learn a lot of things out of sports, like I always say that you learn about responsibility, trust. I mean, you have to be around people have to help you. Accountability, conflict resolution, facing adversity. You know, like right now we’re in the week of having to kind of help Sarah settle down from a very tough loss. And a lot of people just really don’t appreciate just how difficult that is. I remember being with my brother, his last game, the CFL. They thought they had team had an opportunity to possibly go to the Grey Cup, and he knew it was going to be his last season. Just to go through a lot of these things, and adversity, it’s a difficult thing. So you learn these things, you learn how to work with people collaboration. So when you have all these things, they’re part of your life. And then you have kids. Now you sit there and say, with your kids like, Okay, well, a lot of things you do matter, you know, you have to face everyday some of these things have to be responsible, you have to be responsible for what you do. You have to, you know, learn not to make excuses. So accountability for me is always really big. And, you know, there’s no excuses. Why didn’t you get this done? While so none of it was a song. So this is you. This you, people can get in your way. And slow things down, make things difficult, but ultimately, it’s still on you. And they have to understand the responsibility for their own successes, their own failures, know whether you’re going to be an elite, elite athlete or not, these are the things you have to learn as a parent. And if your kids grow up, to be journalists, to be teachers, you know, you have to have these skills instilled in your children. And I, I’ve always thought that’s very important to know, to take the things I took them sport instills in my children, because I don’t know, hey, when they were little kids, I didn’t even know if they’re gonna like sports, you don’t know if they’re gonna, if they’re gonna fall through if they’re gonna play house league hockey and lacrosse until they’re 10. And then figure something else right skateboards in the park all summer, like you just don’t know. But those are skills. They’re lifelong. And if you have those lifelong skills, your kids will be fine.
So along those lines, then how did you and your wife go about trying to strike a balance between, you know, gently encouraging your children, helping them achieve their potential in sport as an example, while still retaining the fun element of it, because that is a big pain point. For a lot of families.
I always say the one of the best moments is my I call it my, my hockey humbling moment. And it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. And I think a lot of parents see it and don’t appreciate it. I really appreciate it. At every Hockey Association, in the world, there’s a six year old who scores 100 goals and who’s just fantastic. And then was touting him as the next great kid. My son, Elijah was that kid. He went in, and he picked up the puck skater on that one and scored. So at one time, hey, next big, he’s going to be a junior star. He’s going to do this, this, this and this. While so we went out to this spring elite hockey program. And he went to tryouts he did well. But he made the team was probably the 12th or 13th. Kid. So he’s close to the bottom of the roster. Then we went out to some of these tournaments. And we saw some of the players in this tournament, in these tournaments. And it was like, wow, like there are there were four teams that our best player wasn’t going to make. And so I got to see a lot of really, really great hockey players. And then you start doing math, I like math, he started doing math and go, Okay, every draft year, there are about 240 Kids drafted. And in this tournament, I see at the gentle age of a 98 birth year, about 300 kids, and a lot of them are better than my good my guy and we haven’t even included the Europeans. So I’m like, Okay, there’s a lot of good hockey players out here. Your 100 goals are great. But you know, you may not, you may never play a game, the NHL, and I have no I have to be prepared for life. And it’s funny when you sit down and talk about something happened to a kid at seven years old. That that kind of was humbling. But then as I looked inside, you know, Sarah’s already established himself as a talented kid. Isaac was a year younger than EJ and he was established self was very talented as well. It was like, Okay, you guys are very talented, but I have to be prepared for if this dream doesn’t happen, where are we going from there? So now you start focusing on all the skills you just talked about. We got to establish those skills because now you have, you may have to live life, like the rest of us, like as normal people, go to school, go to college, university, get a job, raise a family, be good parents be good people. And you have to be able to, to balance all that and and I think that was very that was a very good thing to see early on. So I could reconcile the fact that you don’t get caught up in like kids going NHL and I’m gonna be living great because my kids can be making millions of dollars and that that so I guess when we have they’re growing up is it’s kind of always remembering like, chase your dream. We’re right here for your dream will give you everything you need for your dream. But you have to remember that you have to do what you have to do because there’s a better possibility at even if you’re great. And what was emphasized so much kids no matter how great you are, whether you’re Connor McDavid, whether you’re Murray filly Poulin, you’re one injury away from having to get on with a normal life. So that was one of the those are things we really did to kind of keep everyone humble and balanced.
Along those lines, could you take us through some of the sacrifices that you and your wife had to make in order for your three children to enjoy the experiences in hockey that they’ve had?
I try to avoid using the word sacrifice per se, because hockey was just what we did. It was life. So when I look at sacrifices, could I have gotten a couple of lavish vacations like, Yeah, I’ll say to people, my kids didn’t play hockey, I could have gone to Hawaii and gone to some, you know, all inclusive resorts, we could do all these great things. But then if they play hockey, chances are they would have done something else, which would have taken money out of the pocket. So I don’t view so much as sacrifice. I view it so much as we did we did. We still were able to do things we did have some times we did get to go on some vacations. But when it got to the point as like, there was a point where each of them when when it was actually one year, that happened for all three of them, that they all started doing additional online stuff during the season, and they were doing off by stuff in the offseason, Sarah had gone up from midget to Junior, all of their hockey expenses went up by about 12 to $1,500 each. And suddenly, there’s your vacation fund is gone. Well, we found other things to do, we went to Canada’s Wonderland when other day trips, you did a bunch of other things like that. And you found a way. I view the sacrifices more of my kids, they miss the school dances, they miss the family events. They missed the time hanging out with their friends. And those are the things they had to do to chase a dream. We just lived a life we just I always say I just cut checks, stood in the stands and smiled. They’re the ones who, hey, there’s the school dance. Well, you know, you got a tournament this weekend. They’re the ones who missed all that stuff. You know, they’re the ones who had to, you know, miss out going and seeing the causes like, Oh, my God, we have a set of cousins, they’re very, very close with, you know, making those arrangements all get together at the same time, has gotten had gotten very difficult because all the kids were involved in stuff. My kids in particular, because they were in rap hockey. So sacrifice is a tough word for parents, because it’s a choice we make. I think the sacrifice is bigger for the kids, because they’re taking time out of their childhood.
Roger, how would you go about describing your parenting style.
Um, I guess for me, it was very much I’d say one of the biggest challenges that I had was you want to maintain a good positive relationship with your kids and, and also have the authoritarian thing, like, who’s the boss. And, again, I see as a teacher, I see as a parent, it’s finding the balance. And I always believe that, you know, displaying a good relationship, me and my wife having a good relationship, showing our kids a good relationship helps breed good people. And I looked at it that, again, so much things, accountability, responsibility, you have all those things you have to be you have to be a good person. I made a big effort to be a good dad fun dad, enjoyable dad, but the kids still knew who the boss was. You know if the kids were acting up I remember one time was when lacrosse tournament and my wife texted me said they’re acting up and I sent all the kids attacks I said, you realize the more of the sheriff’s gonna be back in town. And they’re kinda like, oh, okay, so so, you know, that was there like my, my kids today? There are rules, they still follow. But they had rules when they were little kids, because I’m still your dad. And it’s important, there has to be structure, there has to be structure has to be rules. They have to understand the word no. But they have to understand that anything they need to get them ahead to help them succeed. Is there for them. So those are easy asks, if there’s things you want, how can we how can we make the want work, if we can make it work? We will, if we can’t, but the one thing I’ll say I don’t want my kids to be in need of nothing. If there’s anything that they have to have, we’re going to find a way but they have to know the lines between mom dad, and hey, the guy who puts shiny and rocks a horse and be that that
you know, it’s it’s so interesting. It’s such an important point because the perspective that you bring to the question of parenting is, is really quite multi layered, right? So you’re in the in the classroom with grade sevens and eights. You’ve got three kids of your own. You’re out there coaching and refereeing and doing all these things, and you see people in all these different backgrounds and backdrops. And for many parents, what we’re talking about is a real struggle point, in today’s day and age with social media, and all these other influencing factors, when I say, when you talk about accountability, as an example, that that is a pain point for many families. So what would be some of the tips that you can potentially share with parents watching or listening to this interview, about how to rein it in, and sort of have that balance that you describe where it may not exist in some families?
I think really, it’s understand the realities. And be prepared for everything and anything I like to look at things is what’s the worst thing that can possibly happen? And when you look at what’s the worst thing possible can happen. I view a lot everything else is kind of a bonus. And it’s, it’s that most important things in our life, you gotta go to school. I mean, not gonna take care of your family. Your family is number one, your brothers and sisters, because in most families, you know, I have three kids. You know, two of them are still playing hockey to high level. My third son loves the game, he still plays recreationally. And he’s getting into refereeing now, and he’s slowly climbing the refereeing ladder. So he’s his life in hockey at a high level is to get there as a referee now or as a coach because he coaches as well. So recognizing that the child has to chase it wants to chase the dream, providing that to chase the dream. But to chase the dream, there’s still rules, regulations, there’s still expectations. You have to make sure you keep that that that school balance. Number one, no ifs, ands or buts, the school balance biggest thing with school my kids is everyone has to graduate on time. Isaac got to the OHL, the beginning was great 12 year, and I said you are going to graduate at the end of this year. There’s no taking last courses to focus on hockey, you’re going to graduate. That expectation is number one. But the parents have to know that hockey is not Central Hockey is not everything. We don’t sacrifice things. We won’t say when he’s word sacrifice. We don’t make determinations because hotkeys got to be number one. Like there’s other things in life, there are family functions that we had to say no to hotkey to go to that are more important. There is also the most important thing is be the parent make the decisions. When you’re deciding, again, I’m not a big proponent of of offseason hockey. I learned that halfway through my kids career of offseason hotkeys wasn’t necessary. But when I talked to teammates in their big Oh, they’re gonna play this and I didn’t do this. It’s like, really why? Oh, they want to and they really want to, it’s like, no, when I decided we’re going to play hockey in the summer, it was my decision as a parent, I felt that what was better for my kids is to not play hockey in the summer. The first summer, they kind of have to add, please. No, you’re not. And then they understood. So that has to be that mom has to be mom, they have to set the guidelines. They can’t say we’re doing this because they want to, because if we did everything our kids wanted to who’s ruling the roost. And that’s the that’s the balance you have to find is we are still in charge. As long as we pay the bills, we buy the clothes, we are still in charge. And our children can’t dictate
how do you go about reconciling the fact that you know you have all this expertise as a teacher, a coach, all these different? You know, things that you do with being a father and watching your kids play sport, because it’s very hard for many people to keep their emotion out of it when they see their own children performing. How did you go about that? Well, fortunately
for me as and how I’ve always kind of kept myself I use the word sane, almost that my sanity is foresee being a referee. So how angry I get at a referee. I’ve been there. I’ve had 18,000 People pelt things at me. I’ve been there been spat out I’ve been booed. I’ve had it all. So as a referee I understand the referee is going through understand the decision making in milliseconds. So no matter how frustrated I get with how bad a referee is doing out there, I know the job. And so I may want to go stormed out on the referees door and scream at them. I find myself taking two steps sitting down and going you need to stop. I’ve been there as a coach so every time I want to have a conversation with the coach every Time something makes me angry with the coach my line is to myself is how do I want parents? How would I like parents to deal with me? A lot of times, that is my point to say, we’re just gonna let this roll. I think it’s really important pericyte coaches coach, do the drops. That’s why we got them here. There’s not a lot of parents in the stands who could do better. Because if they could, they probably wouldn’t be coaching. So let the coaches coach their jobs to develop the child, let them do that. If they’re not developing your child in the way you want them to develop, the unfortunate thing is, you’re kind of stuck with them for the year. If they’re not doing anything wrong, they’re not hurting your child physically, psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, as long as that’s not happened to they have to be removed from the job, you’re stuck with them for the year. So you, you’re gonna want to hope that they do their job. And you can know how you want to hope that the end of the season, your child is better. One of the things I’ve always said is, as a as a coach, I’ve always said to parents, you may not like the thing I do. But at the end of the season, I promise you, your child will be better player at the end of the season, you gave them to me the beginning. And that’s all I expect from the coach. I have conversations with the coaches at the end of the season. But week after the season’s over, but or between that and tryouts I’ll sit down. Where are we at? Where are we going forward? Is he still part of your plans? What’s your plan moving forward for him or her? It just I just want to keep in the loop of what’s going on. If there’s something that bothered me during the season, if it bothered me October, LA Times, I stood on it all season, I have this meeting at the end of the season to coach this bothers me in the in the fall. Why just explain it to me so I can just have peace for the summer. A lot of times, you know, Coach gotta be treated like teachers, you give us you trust us, you give us that responsibility. You send us your kids to develop them to learn to nurture them. That’s our job. And I gotta I’ve got to, I got to give the coaches that no money yelling or screaming I’m going to do is going to change the thing. So in the best interest of the coach to their job, hopefully have happy kids at the end. And also, I don’t believe that even the worst coaches are going to impact on your child’s future in sport. Even if you think that this coach is horrible, and does no thing he’s doing, if your kid’s gonna make it somewhere in sport, they’re gonna make it somewhere in sport, except the only thing you want don’t want that coach to do is take your kids love away from the game. And if your coach doesn’t do that, if your kids good enough, they’ll be fine.
Sports has been under fire at every level headlines in recent months, certainly, whether you’re talking about Hockey Canada and some sort of hazing scandals and other things that we’ve seen. What do you see when you look at the sports landscape right now in terms of the participation interest among young athletes who are just in you know, minor, amateur sports, just trying to have fun, stay fit all the way up to the parents behavior of while they’re having these athletes participate?
I think the most distressing thing for me is I see sports is just become a business. It’s the fun of playing the game for the sake of playing the game. It just it just the whole business aspect of it. I feel very fortunate because as my kids were getting out of minor hockey, I saw this starting to filter in so I’m just really glad I missed it. But right now, like everyone’s got to skating school or stickhandling school, a ball handling school. People are opening prep schools for every sport. It’s it’s crazy personal training is available for them. And I have people my family who are personal trainers, give me your 100 bucks for an hour your kid, and I’ll do it. I do club volleyball right now. And a lot of the coaches in our club do private lessons. I have some of my players go these private sessions, you know, 60 $70 an hour they’re paying these these coaches to do all the stuff I’ve been offered opportunities to do private lessons. At this point, I haven’t I’m hoping I don’t change. I’m hoping and my value system doesn’t change on this. But I just I just can’t bring myself to to do this on the back of parent on the backs of parents. I understand every parent wants to get the child better. But there’s there’s goals out there and when setting these goals, whether it’s it’s the NHL, whether it’s scholarships, and I don’t know I’ve you know, I hate to be a Debbie Downer on this but while my kids are playing hockey, I’ve watched parents spend 1000s upon 1000s of dollars on skating on stickhandling on this with that school. I have not spent that kind of money. I know I spent a little bit extra money on my kids in certain times, especially your out after they got drafted, but like as I’m watching, I know teammates who every summer $1,000 My kids are 2425 years old, which means they finished university on with life. That’s where most of those kids are. So 1000s of dollars to make you a better hockey player. And when the parents say to me, oh, you know, they love their hockey and, and it’s good to know you’re spending 1000s of dollars to get them to the OHL like that’s what you’re doing and they didn’t get there. So those guys are all a lot of them are all very successful. They’re wonderful young men. I mean they’re still friends with my son so I see them but all that money you’re doing and it didn’t pay off for you and and why I mean Gretzky said yeah do other sports and as I mentioned my my sons after I think the age of 11 didn’t do any summer sports. All the guys let’s play for fortnight coming to skating school leading into draft here was crazy. Come to this camp, all the scouts will be there doing this it’s gonna get you get hired, come pay this $400 And come this weekend camp. All the OHL scouts are there anyway, they’re gonna get looked at you’re gonna get OHL coaches there, and it’s gonna help your draft stock and all the kids went there. My sons, neither my sons went there, both my sons were drafted. One of my sons played for years, the OHL, he didn’t do all that stuff. So do you really need to be there and I’m watching this going on. And the obsession with getting these kids to the next level, and how people are just jumping in and the creating the schools and hey, everyone needs to make a buck. All these people are qualified. A lot of these people, people I know, played in the OHL played pro hockey, they’re very qualified to do this. But people are just jumping on and just pumping the money because it is the thing to do. It’s that chasing the dream. And it’s it’s sad to watch because that obsession is, we all know the percentage of guys who play for people who make it to pro hockey or pro any sport. The UpTake for scholarships are minimal, depending on support dictates your opportunities for scholarships. And right now the Americans even look at hockey, in particular, but Americans are pumping up their own athletes. So they’re only going to use scholarship money on the most elite athletes from outside the United States. So the scholarship numbers are down there. And it’s like, I’m watching all these things in the monetization of sports. And I think that is the most scary thing. That’s the most concerning thing for me, as I see sports moving forward.
Along those lines, your daughter, Sarah certainly has had experience at a very high level and access at success at an extremely high level, making history in 2022, at the Olympics, for a host of reasons. And I wonder how do you go about dealing helping her deal with the notoriety and keeping her grounded, moving forward?
I think she does a great job of that herself. I know one of the things me and her always talk about is never forgetting where he came from. Like right now she’s seeing a lot of success on and off the ice. But I think the reality for her is, hey, you know, we scrapped and scraped to get here. And don’t ever forget that when you you know, when the cameras are on, you got to remember that same girl who, you know, carry your little bag in the law field arena at five years old. So it is it’s those kinds of things me and my wife are a sounding board for so if she’s got something going on, she doesn’t hesitate to call and talk and we we still have talks about hockey. You know, we went over the course I said, Well, we will sit down and we’ll talk about the World Championships and how everything went and how she played and we’ll go over all those things. And, you know, we still have that good open line of communication that we could talk about things and but I really do believe that her humbleness comes from the fact that she has worked very hard for everything. She has worked very hard to make the national team, but I’ve loan set records, let alone playing World Championships in the Olympics. And you know, how hard she worked well before the Olympic team, how hard to work to get on the development team to put yourself in the position to get on the Olympic team and world championship teams. And she’s never lost on that. Like she always remembers that. You know how quickly we taken away and how important those girls do idolize her are and you know, yeah, there are times we have to say we have to go a different route. We can’t go here today. We can’t go do this. But I also give her that same thing is you know you sign up every now autograph, you take every picture. Because these girls, you’re a rock star. And they’ll never even if these girls are fans of Mitch Marner, Austin Matthews comic, David, your accessibility as compared to them, is significantly different. So So them being able to spend this time with you, and you being that role model to them as important. One of the big things I one of my big jokes with Sarah, one time is after game, she kind of got caught up and all the kids came up and she’s coming to see us and before you know it, like half an hour later, she finally done all the autographs and pictures, and she comes up and she’s kind of like, okay, I really didn’t I really want didn’t like this is gonna happen, I want to see. And I said well, that I said this comes with it. And I said, Do you realize that how many times you go to a leaf outing event game, and one of the league players comes off the ice, they sign a couple autographs, they take a picture with a with a couple of fans, and they leave. And they leave the other 30 people around them hanging, they just leave. And it’s okay. But for you and women’s hockey, who’s such a role model, important part of selling this game, you can never do that. And you can’t get lost on the importance of what you do. And how important you are when you have these conversations with these girls who are talking to you because you are their hero. And most boys never get to meet their heroes. And if they do, they get two seconds of selfie and the blow off. And that’s that’s unfortunate. But it’s unfortunate because those guys are so popular and they they really don’t have time to do all that. But they can get away with it. And you know Sarah Marie Felitti Poulin you know, Hillary night they can’t they have to sell their game. And that grass troops I think is very important to her and all her colleagues may remember that.
Roger, your most proud parenting moment?
Wow. I don’t think there is a moment per se. And I’ll tell you why. Because there have been a lot of moments. And I could kind of go and I could, you know, say for each kid, like hey ally just great moment was when he was 10 years old. He got cut from the triple eight team. Later in the season, he was a call up for the team and they called him up and they brought him into the playoffs. And in the game in the siding game the series he’s on the ice makes steel goes in scores game a goal that wins a series for the team that cut them what a great moment. took them off for ice cream after but what a great moment. You know, Isaac had a moment that are playing the mag rice thugs mag rice thugs had beaten them all season. They got a for nothing league on Niagara and everything is great. Niagara storms back has all the men played go to overtime. As against by the defense scores over time winner. Great moment, the announcer The Hamilton boy does all this great moment. Sarah last week against Sweden. Great moment. But there are just moments in time that will eventually fade and I look at moments as your value. Like we’re watching the OHL championship game the deciding game six. I was watching a few weeks ago just because I wanted to I wanted to get some video of some stuff. I was doing a little project. So I want to get a little video. So I ended up watching the entire game. And what really was important was I’m looking at the end of the game. Isaac was on the ice. I was like, Huh, okay, then I would decide to go back and watch the gold medal game of the Olympics. Sarah was on the ice, when the clock tick down. And for me, those moments are more important because they show value. You’re important to what this team does. And those things to me it’s instead of taking a moment, it’s I’m taking the experience and saying the most important game of the year. You’re on the ice the most important time and that shows that your team, your coach values what you bring to the table. And that to me is more important. That’s more important than any particular moment is how important you are your team.
Roger nurse, teacher, coach and hockey Dad, we really appreciate your time and perspective today.
Thanks for having me.

“You learn a lot of things out of sports,” Nurse told Lianne Castelino during an interview for Where Parents Talk. He was a prolific lacrosse player for Canada and his older brother played in the Canadian Football League (CFL). “I always say that you learn about responsibility, trust, accountability, conflict resolution, facing adversity. You have to be around people to help you,” he says.

During the video and podcast interview on how to encourage athleticism in children in a positive, constructive way, the Hamilton, Ontario resident admitted, “my parents weren’t the most athletic people.”

But several generations of the Nurse family are, including his niece Kia, a member of Team Canada basketball and nephew Darnell, a defenceman with the Edmonton Oilers — among them.

“When I had kids, it was just kind of natural,” says Nurse. “It was like my kids are gonna get into sports. I’m gonna give them every opportunity to play sports, to learn sports. And you know, they just stuck to it.”

His parenting style also spilled over into his approach to sports, which was that parents are in charge; they make the decisions, and kids don’t dictate. It was always a rule in the Nurse household that kids graduate on time, regardless of the level they had achieved in sports. Nothing took priority over school.

Nurse, Roger.headshot.resized

Roger Nurse is a teacher, coach, and hockey dad.

Roger Nurse is a teacher, coach, referee, and hockey dad who knows a few things about raising athletic kids. His daughter Sarah is a member of Canada’s national women’s hockey team, and his other two kids also play hockey at a high level. Nurse spoke to host Lianne Castelino, on Where Parents Talk, about how to encourage athleticism in children in a positive, constructive way. 

A lifelong athlete who still teaches middle school and coaches,  and coach himself, Nurse believes that through sports, participation in team sports teaches kids many important qualities that will serve them well, such as responsibility, accountability, trust, collaboration, and how to face adversity. Kids learn not to make excuses for themselves and to face up to their successes and failures.

When asked to describe his own parenting style, Nurse said he always strived for a great relationship with his kids, while maintaining the role of family leader. He said, “I made a big effort to be a good dad, fun dad, enjoyable dad—but the kids still knew who the boss was.” This authoritative approach spilled over into his approach to sports, which was that parents are in charge; they make the decisions, and kids don’t dictate. It was always a rule in Nurse’s household that kids graduate on time, regardless of the level they had achieved in sports. Nothing took priority over school.

hockey net with puck

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

When kids do excel, it is crucial that they remember where they came from. Nurse emphasizes the importance of keeping lines of communication open with parents and acting as a sounding board throughout the good and bad times. This helps successful kids to stay humble, to remember how lucky they are to be in their current position, and how quickly it can be lost. 

As an example, Nurse says he encourages his daughter Sarah, who won Olympic Gold with Team Canada at the 2022 Beijing games, to always to stick around after hockey games to meet fans and sign autographs: “You can’t get lost [in] the importance of what you do, and how important you are when you have these conversations with these girls who are talking to you because you are their hero.”

During his interview with Where Parents Talk, Roger Nurse also discusses:

  • What troubling trends he sees in youth sports today
  • How to balance encouragement in athletics while keeping it fun
  • How parents should deal with coaches they don’t like
  • His proudest parenting moment

You May Also Like ..

Latest Tweets

Sponsored Ads

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This