Basketball

Lauren Niemiera savoring work as rising basketball official

In March 2014, Lauren Niemiera became the Sky’s Media & Communications Coordinator. During Niemiera’s meeting with owner Michael Alter, executive Adam Fox and then-coach Pokey Chatman, she was asked what she saw herself doing in five to 10 years. 

Niemiera, who played college basketball at Bradley and graduated from Marist High School, already was officiating high school games and was honest with Sky brass, for whom she had worked multiple internships. She told them she could envision taking refereeing seriously as a career path.

“I liked this opportunity with the Sky because it would allow me to continue to do both things because the WNBA season is in the summer,” said Niemiera, who added how much she appreciated the Sky’s support.

Not even five years later, Niemiera is on track.

Lauren Niemiera will work as a referee for the NBA's G League this fall. | Provided photo

Niemiera worked with the Sky until the summer of 2016, when she made the move to the NBA’s referee development program. She worked this year’s NBA Summer League in Las Vegas and will make her G-League debut this fall.

Long term, her goal is the NBA, and Niemiera also wants to stop in the WNBA.

“It makes it really easy to wake up every day and work hard, whether it’s going to the gym and working out or being in the rule book or watching film, just because these are things I know that I’m shooting for,” Niemiera said.

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Niemiera, 28, ended up in the program, in part, thanks to the impression she left in 2012 as a game operations intern at the Las Vegas Summer League.

While throwing T-shirts and gathering participants for contests, she was noticed by George Toliver, NBA’s associate vice president of referee development. Toliver saw how Niemiera carried herself and asked if she had thought about officiating.

The idea resonated with Niemiera, who kept in touch with Toliver and provided updates on her progress. In the fall of 2015, Toliver called Niemiera about joining the development program, and after a lengthy interview process, Niemiera was accepted and plunged into her officiating career.

“It turned out to be the perfect fit,” Niemiera said. “I guess I got lucky.”

Perhaps, but Niemiera also is creating her luck.

“I love the game,” Niemiera said. “I’ve always focused on serving the game, and I think there’s really no higher capacity to serve the game than to be on the court as an official.”

Briefly

US Club Soccer, a National Association member of the U.S. Soccer Federation, announced the 2019 Elite National Premier League National Playoff will be June 28 to July 2 at Mercyhealth Sportscore Two near Rockford.