New Zealand Hoops – Q&A With Megan Compain

What is your full name and where are you from?

Megan Compain from Whanganui, New Zealand.

Why did you choose the game of basketball? 

I was a gymnast till 13 but got too tall, played netball but got too bored, wanted to bounce the ball and shoot all the time so chose basketball 😊

Also my cousins were amazing players, Tony, Tipa, Clinton and Glen Compain, I was following in their footsteps.

You currently work for New Zealand Rugby. Please explain a bit about your role and how you came to work for the Association? 

I head up the commercial partnerships team for NZ Rugby.  My team and I look after all of the sponsorships and commercial licensing partnerships for the All Blacks, Black Ferns, our Sevens teams, Maori All Blacks and a little in Super Rugby.  This means we deliver on all of the contractual benefits of the sponsorships, as well as marketing campaigns and activations between the brands and our players.  I started here 2010 after four years working with adidas in Germany and Amsterdam.  I was in the basketball sports marketing team for adidas but being a kiwi I met the All Blacks and NZ Rugby officials, so I had a little foot in the door when I applied for the role as sponsorship manager when we moved back to New Zealand from Europe.

What schools did you attend, and what were your achievements and highlights?

Whanganui High School – didn’t achieve much as I left half way through my 5th form (Year 11) before I went to America to play basketball, but I did carve my name on the side of the gym wall before I left.

Middle Township High School (New Jersey) – made it to the State Finals, lost, but a lot of college scouts saw me play and that’s where I started to get scholarship offers.

St Joseph’s University (Philadelphia) – made NCAA tournament 3 out of 4 years, won our conference in my senior year, named to conference first team, named to SJU and Philadelphia Big Five Hall of Fame.

You are a role model for young men and women, what advice do you have for them getting into basketball?

It’s a sport that can take you around the world (Covid aside!) … but even if you are not the best at the game, it’s so much fun, it’s so easy to play socially with your mates, it’s got the “cool” factor, great sport to play to get fit, and learn fantastic teamwork skills.

What was the ultimate highlight in your basketball career? 

Hitting a shot at the buzzer to beat China in the 2004 Olympic Games.

Who has been your biggest influence in basketball and why?

Coach Stephanie Gaitley, my US college coach, amazing coach to pull the best out of her players, her achievements out way the talent she often has on the court.

Who is the ultimate women’s basketball player in New Zealand?

Charlisse Leger-Walker – wow what a talent.  There is so much exciting talent coming out of NZ in the women’s game it’s hard to pick one, but when I first saw Charlisse play, I was blown away at how mature she was on the court while being so young.  She is deceptively fast, great handles and a killer quick release on her shot. 

Who is the ultimate men’s basketball player in New Zealand?

Hard to look past Steve Adams, but I’m going to say Sean Marks – what he achieved in the NBA should be known and celebrated by basketball in NZ. Sean won two championship rings, one as a player and one as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs, and is now the GM of the Brooklyn Nets. Hands down the most accomplished and successful basketball player on and off the court.

Where would you like to see basketball in this country in the next five years?

First! I say that in respect of growth at the community level, more secondary school kids playing basketball, getting fair and comparable funding from government agencies aligned with the growth of the game, more TV coverage, more Tall Ferns and Tall Blacks tours.

What was it like to play in the WNBA?

Hard! Challenging! Exciting! I was the youngest player on my team, one of the youngest in the league in the inaugural season of the WNBA. I was 20 pounds lighter in muscle mass then other players my size and position, so I definitely got shoved around the court quite a bit.  It was a huge step up from the college basketball I had been playing but a phenomenal experience to put yourself against the best of the best in women’s basketball from around the world.  It was a privilege and a thrill to wear the WNBA badge on my number 22 jersey for the Utah Starzz, and to be the first New Zealander and still the only female to make a team and play in the league. I GENIUNELY am hopeful that in the not too distant future I can finally say I’m not the only one.

Whats the best pair of basketball shoes you have owned? 

Oh wow … tough question!!  I’d have to say it was a pair of Nike’s from my college days, they didn’t have a fancy name but they were really soft leather and mid/low cut (which I loved, hated high tops). Hard for me to say that as I bleed the three stripes for adidas, I just have to say they have not made a basketball sneaker I have loved!

If you have one piece of advice for your younger self, what would it be? 

Belief! I was one of those players who constantly doubted myself, downplayed my talent and ability, never pushed myself into a leadership role on the court, and I wonder what I could have achieved if I had a little bit more of the confidence I have now as a grown up when I was young (and fit!)

#BuildTheCulture 🏀

Published by Jesse Wallis

Basketball Journalist

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