Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse teamed up with Canadian rock band Arkells to donate $25,000 towards the music program at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School in Mississauga.
The connection was made when music teacher Julia Jung made an arrangement of hit single “Years In the Making” for her Gonzaga students. Arkells lead singer Max Kerman shared the video on his Instagram page, and then connected with Nurse on a way to support Jung’s music program. Nurse surprised Jung with the donation on behalf of eOne and the Nick Nurse Foundation in June.
“I’m trying to get instruments in kids’ hands and get them lessons. Mostly to get kids feeling good about themselves that don’t have some opportunities, and to give them these opportunities because I think it raises self-image,” Nurse said of the donation in a conference call this week.
Jung is trying to keep her students engaged despite schools being moved online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, that has been a difficult process, not only because band and strings classes couldn’t gather to play, but also because there was a shortage of instruments. Jung said groups of three or four students had to share instruments, and that although the donation wouldn’t cover everything, that it would prevent a reduction in student participation.
Nurse, a self-described “learning musician,” found himself rediscovering his passion for music after focusing on sports in his childhood. Nurse is an experienced pianist, and recently picked up the guitar, which he famously toted from city to city when the Raptors won the NBA championship. After the title, Nurse and his guitar made a surprise appearance on stage with Arkells and performed a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours.”
“I was one of those kids that my mother forced me to go to piano lessons for about three years, that I hated. I only played out the lesson because I was playing somewhere between 7 and 10 sports as a kid. I didn’t want to sit down at the piano. It always gnawed at me a little bit, and I started playing the piano again about 8 or 10 years ago, and then in the last couple of years studying, working at it, and trying to get better,” Nurse said.
“I just love it, it’s something I like to do. It’s fun for me personally to learn and grow and to relieve stress, and to try to keep my creative juices flowing. I always say that it helps my coaching to keep working whichever side of the brain that is,” he added.
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