Megan Thompson, basketball - 'Triple play'

Male basketballer shooting
Author:  Cathy Reid
Issue: Volume 6 Number 2

It’s taken the birth of triplets to slow down internationally recognised basketball referee Megan Thompson, but it will not sideline her for long.

Already busy with two-and-a-half year old Zac, Megan and her husband Sean Meyers know life will take a much more hectic turn.

But like everything else she’s done, she will not only take it in her stride, but excel.

She has a passion and enthusiasm for life—and basketball is a big part of that. She also has a strong competitive spirit that’s taken her to the top.

‘I still have so many things I want to achieve in basketball. So I’ll definitely be back,’ Thompson said.

The temporary hole Megan leaves while on ‘maternity leave’ will be hard to fill, according to the General Manager of Community Basketball in Australia, Michael Haynes.

‘Megan is one of the best referees in the WNBL (Women’s National Basketball League), as well as also being on the NBL (National Basketball League) referees panel,’ Michael said. ‘Anytime you take away someone with her experience and understanding for the game, it will leave a gap.

‘The standard of officiating across the WNBL is amongst the very best in the world, and Megan has been a significant contributor to that. I think, though, the gap may be felt more at the ABA level and the local association level, where her passion and experience will be sorely missed.’

Thompson hopes to be back on the floor as soon as possible as she has lofty goals.

‘I’d love to referee at an Olympics. That would be the ultimate,’ Megan said.

Internationally ranked, she already represented Australia as a referee at the World Under 19 Championships in Tunisia, earning the respect of fellow referees and officials and was awarded the gold medal game between the United States and Serbia Montenegro.

 ‘To get the gold medal game is the ultimate compliment and it was such a great experience. All the work paid off and it was everything I’d dreamed of.’

And well deserved according to Haynes. ‘There are over 1000 international badge referees, so to be selected for a World Championships is a huge honour. Referees, like teams, only progress to the medal rounds if they’re at the very top of their game. Being awarded the gold medal game was a great achievement.’

It was no surprise to Australian officials, who have been impressed by her natural ability, determination, dedication and interpretation.

‘Her ability to understand the game and to manage players, coaches and the game itself sets her apart,’ Michael said. ‘At the top level, strictly applying the “letter of the law” is not necessarily what is required. Megan has the ability to understand the flow of the game and her judgment on when a call needs to be made—or doesn’t need to be made—is very good.’

Ironically, being a referee was something Thompson ‘kind of fell into’ to earn a bit of money while she was at university.
‘I’d played at a reasonable level but didn’t ever set out to be a referee. But I’m very competitive by nature and once I started I wanted to be the best.

‘I kept setting myself more challenging goals and I guess I became addicted to it. Refereeing kind of pulls you in.’
Despite refereeing at the highest level, Megan has largely escaped criticism, although hears the occasional remark from the bench and sideline.

‘Sometimes it’s something funny like “Sweet Pea” or “Darling,” and it gives me a bit of a chuckle.’

The most comments she’s ever received came after a televised match, for which she was running late and inadvertently grabbed her husband’s pants instead of hers to change into.

‘They were way too big and all through the game I had to keep hitching them up. So many people asked me “what was with the pants”?’

As well as refereeing at the top, Megan also puts in a lot of time and effort into her local association doing development work.

‘Her work at the City of Sydney Association ensures that there will be someone to continue her success one day,’ Michael said.

‘Megan is a great role model for female referees, but more importantly she is a great role model for referees in Australia. I’m sure that Megan’s success will play a big part in inspiring other women to achieve at that level.’

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