Former WNBA star to headline La Fiesta Women Who Lead
Former pro-basketballer, now Commercial Manager for the All Blacks, Whanganui-born Megan Compain will headline a special Women Who Lead event as part of La Fiesta 2024.
Launched last September by Sport Whanganui and Whanganui Women’s Network, Women Who Lead is a monthly speaker series aimed at celebrating women and showcasing women’s leadership. MC Carla Donson is looking forward to chatting with Megan about growing up in Whanganui, her path to the WNBA, and her successful career in sport.
“It’s exciting to be kicking off our Women Who Lead series for 2024 during La Fiesta. The festival was the inspiration for this initiative, and it is even more exciting that we get to lead off with Megan Compain”, says Carla.
“Megan has navigated a successful career after international sporting excellence, combined with continued leadership in governance roles, so it will be wonderful to explore some of the secrets to her success”.
Megan was the first New Zealand woman to play in the WNBA league in the United States. Her impressive resume includes being selected for the Tall Ferns in 1998, competing at two Olympic Games in 2000 and 2004, and going on to lead a successful career in governance and leadership roles with NZ Rugby and Basketball New Zealand.
When asked about her time growing up in Whanganui, Megan listed endless summer days at Kowhai Park, Whanganui East Pools, Virginia Lake, and Kai Iwi Beach among her favourite memories. Sport was a core part of life with gymnastics keeping her busy as a child, until basketball became the focus for the talented athlete.
“I remember vividly being tucked into bed on my fifth birthday and mum asking me if I wanted to gymnastics. And that was me from ages 5 to 13,” says Megan.
“I realised I was never going to be an Olympic gymnast so walked out of training one Friday night and went across the hall to the basketball courts and never looked back.”
On the highlights and challenges of working in sport, Megan says with time and experience she has realised sport is a massively powerful tool.
“Young me thought it was the natural pathway because I didn’t think I could do anything else. It’s what I knew, and I was terrified about what I was going to do after I stopped playing.
“It (sport) not only promotes healthy choices and lifestyle, it can lift people out of situations where they may feel they have no other hope, it can give you a sense of belonging, develop leadership and other critical skills that they can then apply to the real world.”
“Sport can literally bring warring nations together under a type of diplomacy that doesn’t exist in the halls of power. I’ve seen it first hand give kids hope and dreams and enjoyment when life is tough.”
“That’s what I feel most proud of when I think about my time working in sport.”
The Women Who Lead/La Fiesta event with Megan Compain is on at The Barracks Sports Bar at 5.30pm on Tuesday 20 February. This is a free event, and no registration is needed, all are welcome.