Megan Niklas celebrates 20 years as manager for North Central College women’s basketball

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Over the past 20 years of North Central College women’s basketball there have been a lot of changes. Four head coaches, an NCAA tournament appearance and three different school presidents. One of the things that has remained constant is the welcoming presence of team manager Megan Niklas.

Before the team’s game against Elmhurst on February 3rd, 2024 the Cardinals honored their longtime manager with a pregame ceremony celebrating Megan’s twenty years as the NCC manager.

A constant presence on the North Central sidelines

When head coach Maggie McCloskey-Bax first took the reigns of the program in 2018, before she even met with her new players, it was the team manger who received the first introduction.

“Megan has been just a wonderful addition to the program. I came in and the first person I had to meet was Megan. When I got the job, everyone said, You’ve got to meet Megan,” said coach Maggie McCloskey-Bax. “She’s just been wonderful to have at practices and games and she just loves being around the team and the team loves having her around, so it’s been really good.”

Megan credits the support of her family and specifically her parents for her decades of experience in the athletic community.

“One thing I do it to is my parents because they come to every home game, which I appreciate a lot,” said Megan Niklas. “I’m the only one living with them at home now, even though I have that loud, cheering crowd in there!”

Megan is used being around a team environment being the youngest of seven kids in a family with 25 nieces and nephews. That has provided plenty of practice using her voice, which she utilizes to help get the Cardinals ready before games.

“They love they love her pre-game speeches. She doesn’t give speeches at our home game, so they get fired up with those. And I think for them it’s just a really good perspective. But she just loves being a part of the program. And I think they understand that like it’s a special place to be. So the team enjoys that,” said McCloskey-Bax.

Candace Parker sends well wishes to her former manager

North Central was not her first experience as a team manager. At Naperville Central High School, Megan Niklas was a team manager for the girls volleyball, girls soccer and girls basketball team from 1998-2002. Her final two years with Redhawks girls basketball, the legendary Candace Parker was a team member. Following a recent return home to Naperville the week before, Parker recorded a video to congratulate Megan on her achievements over the past 20 years.

“We had a we had a player that worked at a restaurant that she came into last week, and my my alumni, Mitrese and Natalie were brave enough to ask for a video. So it was really fun. And I think she’s been asking about that. And one of the first things she tells people is she was Candace Parker’s manager, so I’m really glad that worked out,” said McCloskey-Bax. “She was so excited, her family was so excited. She wanted to get her here, but I couldn’t get here here. But we got a video so that was a good consolation.”

While Megan says that she is considering retiring as team manager after 20 seasons on the bench, she is forever grateful to the coaches and the players.

“I thank them for the opportunity to be the head manager. And especially my team. Sometimes they have ups and downs. I want them to win and do well in the tournaments,” said Niklas.

Her favorite memory is one shared by many in the North Central community!

“But my one thing that is my most favorite memory is we beat Wheaton!” said Niklas with a smile.

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