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Building her brand

Hockey may be her first love, but Sarah Nurse also has a passion for creating content on social media to show fans her authenticity and personality

Shannon Coulter
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February 20, 2023
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NOTE: This story was first published in August 2021. The beginning has been updated with current information.

A lot has happened in Sarah Nurse’s life in the last 18 months.

On the ice, she won two IIHF Women’s World Championships and an Olympic gold, setting records for points (18) and assists (13) in a single Olympic tournament. Off the ice, she is growing her presence on social media and working with her partners to produce engaging content.

"I think that I’ve evolved so much in the last few years,” Nurse says. “Although I do have the same interests, I am just looking to continue to raise the bar as high as possible and keep pushing different boundaries.”

One of her ground-breaking partnerships in the last year was with EA Sports. Last August, Nurse was revealed as a cover athlete for NHL23 along with Anaheim Ducks star, Trevor Zegras.

“I wanted to make sure that women were authentically integrated into the game. I didn’t just want to be used as a figurehead checking a box or doing something different,” she explains. “[EA Sports] really assured me that they were going to have Trevor and I on the same level as professional hockey players.

“I think all around, [the reaction to the cover] has been super positive.”

Nurse is excited to work on more meaningful collaborations as her career continues to evolve.

“I’ve had such great relationships over the last few years,” she says. “I want to continue really to elevate it and work with them in new and different ways. I’m working on my own actual personal brand, and with the help of my partners, I want to be able to do different collaborations with them. They’re just so supportive of everything that I do.”

Read the original story about how Sarah is building her brand on and off the ice below.

Sarah NursePhoto credit: pam_tenwestphotography

A typical morning for Sarah Nurse begins with what you would expect from any high-level athlete. With hockey as her No. 1 priority, she begins her day with training and then hits the ice for a morning skate.

But her schedule after that is likely different compared to other athletes. The 26-year-old will have meetings to discuss social media partnerships, participate in video calls, film different videos and plan future concept ideas.

“I think social media is such a powerful tool,” she says. “It’s something that we are all on and it’s really integrated into our daily lives.”

Creating content has always been something Nurse has enjoyed, too. In school, she was often editing videos and coming up with different content ideas.

“It really started at a young age that I really like to create things,” she says. “I just love having fun with it, being creative. I think about content in a sense of what do I like to watch. If I like to watch something, I want to recreate something that I would like to watch because if it’s boring to you, it’s going to be boring to everybody else.”

Whether it’s showing a day in her life, a fun fashion look or something she is passionate about, Nurse is taking advantage of the ability to share her personality online. Her ability to network and connect with people then introduced her to the world of brand partnerships.

“When I started realizing that there are organizations and brands and different partnerships that would align with my values and my mission and my goals, that’s something that I wanted to dive into,” she says.

Although she is active on several social media platforms, her favourite right now is TikTok because it is so creative and entertaining.

“I feel like TikTok is just a place to let loose, have fun,” Nurse says. “You can literally post anything you want, you can go viral, there are so many different people that you can see and meet from around the world. I think TikTok right now is the place to be.”

The love of TikTok is also shared by many of Nurse’s teammates. The reason why Emily Clark, who was a teammate of Nurse at the University of Wisconsin, likes the app is because she enjoys sharing her humour and showcasing her personality while making videos with Canada’s National Women’s Team.

“While we’re making it, we’re having a blast,” Clark says. “I think it’s a fun way for people to kind of see the friendships on the team, too. We’re so much more than teammates, so to be able to see that family and friend bond that we all have, I think it's pretty special to share.”

The bond between Clark and Nurse is evident on their TikTok profiles. The two forwards have started a series called “On the Mini Mic with 20 and 26” to bring fans behind the scenes at the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship.

“She called me into a room one day and she was like, ‘I got this mini mic,” Nurse explains. “I was like, ‘I have one at home. Should we do something funny?’”

Both Nurse and Clark are excited to evolve the video series throughout the tournament, whether that’s including more of their teammates or even trying to get their coaches on the mini mic.

“It’s just a fun way for us to share our platforms,” Clark says. “People seem to like it, so you’ll be seeing a lot more of 20 and 26 on the mini mic.”

As the duo continues to create content together, Clark says she is learning a lot about how she can improve her own presence online. She really admires Nurse’s confidence and willingness to put herself out on social media.

“It’s a true skill and you got to put work into it,” she says. “I think Sarah is super ahead of our time in the game with that stuff. She honestly teaches me a lot about different ways you can create content, different opportunities that can come for it, how you can connect better with people, [all] by putting a little bit more time into it.”

When it comes to partnerships, Nurse says she uses a gut feeling to know if she should give the green light to working with a new brand. One of her favourite partnerships she has worked on was with Tim Hortons and Barbie.

“When the Tim Hortons and Barbie partnership was brought to me, I was so excited,” she says. “They told me they’re going to make a Barbie look like me. That was pretty cool, because that’s something that as a little girl, I could have never ever dreamed of.

“To combine two things that I love was really special. There were so many times where I’ve been put in a box as an athlete and told that I can’t like pink or I can’t like Barbies, because that’s not what athletes like. Seeing my two worlds kind of merge and collide was really special.”

A one-of-a-kind Barbie doll was also made specifically for Nurse to keep that she says, “looks exactly like me.” The partnership also aligned seamlessly with her goal of being a role model for the next generation and especially for young Black hockey players.

“When kids put these limiting beliefs on themselves, it’s because they don’t see themselves in something,” she says. “Obviously representation is so important. You have to be able to see yourself in something and so if I can be that figure for one child, that makes me the happiest. I really hope that as we go through the next few years, next few decades with hockey, there are going to be so many young Black girls who are getting involved.”

For Nurse, one of the exciting parts of social media is the increased connection she has with her fans. Years ago, athletes were limited to more traditional forms of media, like newspapers and television, to communicate and show their personalities. With social media, Nurse says it’s an opportunity to show the world who you are.

“I want to show people that yes, I play hockey. I love hockey. But I also love other things.”

From hockey to fashion to beauty, Nurse has enjoyed building relationships with fans through comments and messages. The most important thing for her is to stay authentic and genuine no matter what she posts on her journey with social media.

“With social media and with content, I just want to have fun,” she says. “If we think it’s funny, our teammates think it’s funny, it gets sent around the group chat, that’s a win.”

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

emadziya@hockeycanada.ca 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

ssharkey@hockeycanada.ca

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

jknight@hockeycanada.ca

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