Celebrating Hamilton’s female athletes

Hamilton has a long, illustrious history of producing some of Canada’s finest athletes. No matter the sport, it seems as though Hamilton has had a hand in helping athletes reach their potential and make a name for themselves on an international scale.

Of course, this goes for both male and female athletes. Today, there are female athletes from Hamilton and the surrounding area who are applying their craft around the world and close to home.

Hamilton’s Kia Nurse has helped to grow women’s basketball across Canada and continues to make herself known as one of the elite basketball players in the world. The 23-year-old point guard became a household name in the basketball world in helping UConn capture back-to-back NCAA National Championships before being drafted 10th overall by the New York Liberty in the 2018 WNBA draft.

During the 2019 season, Nurse has been named a WNBA all-star for the first time in her career. She is averaging 15.4 points per game and has quickly become a leader on the Liberty and one of the faces of basketball in Canada. After helping Canada to a gold medal at the 2015 Pan-Am games in Toronto, she’ll be looking to continue elevating Canadian basketball in the coming years.

But Nurse isn’t the only female basketball player from Hamilton who has made an impact internationally.

Shona Thorburn made her name at the University of Utah after graduating from Hamilton’s Westdale Secondary School. She was drafted seventh overall in the 2006 WNBA draft by the Minnesota Lynx but never established herself in the league. Thorburn moved onto Europe where she spent much of her career in France, while continuing to play for Canada’s national team.

Hamilton has produced some of Canada’s finest hockey players. Amongst them have been Laura Fortino, Sarah Nurse, and Renata Fast — all of which play for Canada’s national team. All three established themselves in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) prior to this season, when the league announced it would be closing its doors.

Many players from the league were integral in the development of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association this spring, with the goal of creating one league for the top female professional hockey players in the world to play in. As of publication, there is no league for Canadian women to play in for the 2019-2020 season.

The last two decades have been great for female athletes from Hamilton.

In combat sports, Jessica Rakoczy became a seven-time lightweight world champion and spent time in mixed martial arts, including time spent in the UFC.

Hamilton’s own Jessica Rakoczy is a seven-time lightweight world champion. Photo provided by UFC.

In soccer, Melissa Tancredi was a member of the national team from 2004-2017, becoming one of Canada’s most prominent female soccer players. This included a bronze medal in the 2012 Olympic games.

Tonya Verbeek became Canada’s first woman to medal in wrestling at the 2004 Olympics, earning a silver medal in the 55kg division, before winning bronze in the 2008 Olympics.

These women are doing a phenomenal job repping our area and we eagerly await the next female success story coming out of Hamilton.

Header photo courtesy of Torstar

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