Paulsons will cheer on cousin Nurse as Toronto plays for title

Submitted photo Fort Dodge’s Norine Paulson and her cousin, Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse, pose with Nurse’s son, Leo.

Last Christmas, Norine (Lamaak) Paulson and her husband, Terry, bought Toronto Raptors gear for Norine’s siblings and their spouses.

They’ve been wearing the shirts with pride all spring long.

Norine Paulson, who taught for 33 years — 17 years special needs and 16 in mathematics — in the Fort Dodge Community School district, has been playing very close attention to the NBA Playoffs and the ride of the Raptors — more specifically, first-year Toronto head coach Nick Nurse.

Nurse and Paulson are first cousins.

“We hosted Christmas this past year and those shirts (Toronto) were our gift to them,” Paulson said. “We wear them for every game, and hope to continue to wear them into June.

“Nick is an awesome guy. Our family follows Nick and the Raptors very closely. We are so proud of him and his team.”

Nurse is a graduate of Carroll Kuemper. Paulson’s mother, Arlene (Shoemaker) Lamaak, is sisters with Nurse’s mother, Marcella (Shoemaker) Nurse.

“I spent a lot of time at Nick’s house growing up,” Paulson said. “His sister, Maureen, and I were close friends.

“We have a huge family and I don’t get to see my cousins as frequently as I’d like to. But every summer, we have a huge three-day family reunion on the Shoemaker farm, so we get to see him and several other family members.”

The Paulson family has always been very active in sports. Norine, who graduated from Lake View-Auburn in 1975, was on the school’s 6-on-6 championship team. Terry has been a long-time teacher and coach in the FDCSD as well after a playing career at Buena Vista University.

Oldest daughter Megan (Paulson) Herrig, a 2003 FDSH graduate, was an all-state softball player for the Fort Dodge softball team. Herrig played for and graduated from Winona State University.

“Our family is extremely proud,” Herrig said. “It’s really cool seeing him on TV, knowing how much hard work he has put into getting where he is at and how successful he and his team have been.

“We try to tune in to as many games as we can.”

Morgan (Paulson) Lehmann is a 2005 FDSH graduate. She was a four-time first team all-state softball honoree and played at the University of Northern Iowa.

“Growing up, I remember my parents talking about Nick a lot — and I also remember attending one of his basketball camps (along with Megan) in Carroll,” Lehmann said. “Since Shaun (Morgan’s husband) and I live near Des Moines, we did go to some Iowa Energy games when he was there (as a head coach).”

As a player, Nurse won the state championship at Kuemper 10 years after Paulson’s team did in 1975, beating Fort Dodge in the semifinals along the way.

Norine’s mother, Arlene, graduated from Churdan and also played in the girls state tournament.

After working his way through the coaching ranks, Nurse is in his first season as head coach for Toronto, who will begin their quest for an NBA title tonight as they open the Finals against two-time defending champions Golden State.

“We have watched every playoff game on TV,” Paulson said. “Obviously our interest is very high. These last few games have been super intense; we are definitely on the edge of our seats.”

The Raptors are 12-6 through the playoffs and finished 58-24 in the regular season — the second best record in the NBA. The Raptors defeated Orlando, 4-1, in the Eastern Conference opener. It took seven games to knock off Philadelphia in the semifinals, before reaching the finals by beating Milwaukee, 4-2.

“My husband loves the Philadelphia 76ers, so we had some friendly competition watching the 76ers/Raptors series in the playoffs,” Lehmann said. “We are definitely rooting for the Raptors to take down the Warriors in the Finals.”

Before being appointed head coach, Nurse was an assistant in Toronto from 2013 to ’18.

Nurse played in 111 games at Northern Iowa from 1985 to ’89. He is Northern Iowa’s career leader in three-point percentage at .468 (170 of 363).

Nurse’s first coaching stop was as an assistant for the Panthers in 1989 for one season. He was also a player-coach for the Derby Storm (1990-91). From 1991 to 1993, he was a coach at Grand View University.

He has also had jobs with the Birmingham Bullets, Telindus Oostende, Manchester Giants, London Towers, Oklahoma Storm (assistant), Brighton Bears, and Oklahoma Storm (assistant).

From 2007 to ’11, Nurse was the head coach for the Iowa Energy of the D-League — a franchise in Des Moines. From 2011 to ’13, before heading to Toronto, he coached the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.