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Soccer Star From Manchester Will Help Cover The 2021 Olympics In Tokyo

Georgia Lord looks downfield while preparing to launch a soccer ball.
Williams College, Courtesy
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A work-study with NBC in Connecticut has Williams College senior Georgia Lord headed to Japan to work for the network as part of its coverage of the 2021 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.

A Manchester woman who played soccer at Burr & Burton Academy and at Williams College has turned a campus work-study job into a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: being part of a national broadcasting team at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Japan.

Georgia Lord won two NCAA Division III championships with the Williams College Ephs. Now Lord is heading to Japan following a month-long stint with NBC Sports in Stamford, Connecticut. She'll be working for NBC in their main studio at the Tokyo Olympic games.

VPR's Mitch Wertlieb spoke with Georgia Lord about her opportunity to cover the Summer Olympics for NBC. Their conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Mitch Wertlieb: This opportunity with NBC started at Williams College, and I understand you were working with the Ephs' sports information office. How did all this morph, then, into a work-study program with NBC Sports?

a person holds up a trophy on a field under night lights
Credit Georgia Lord, Courtesy
Georgia Lord lofts an NCAA Champion's trophy as part of the Williams College 2018 women's soccer championship team.

Georgia Lord: I interned over the summer in the sports information office with Dick Quinn. And one day I was just looking through LinkedIn, trying to figure out what I wanted to do the following summer, and I came across the NBC Sports Olympics internship program, and I thought it was really interesting, and really cool.

So I just talked to DQ [Dick Quinn] ... and I just reached out to DQ and asked him if he knew anybody at NBC. And, of course, DQ knows everybody, and he was able to get me in touch with a couple of NBC Sports employees.

And that was in Stamford, Connecticut. What was that experience like?

That was really cool. So I worked in the Premier League control room, and the NHL, mainly.

For Premier League, obviously, that's in the morning, so I had to wake up at like 3:30 a.m., get to the office by like 4:30 a.m. And basically, I just sat in the back row, I was a runner in the control room, so I would print out the segments and give it to everyone in the room, I would get snacks, coffee while also just learning. And I got to shadow each position. That was really cool, I loved it.

It really reminded me of playing a sport and being on a team. Everyone has their own job to do. But when the camera goes live, we're all working together, and it's a very collaborative environment.

So you're going to leave for Japan in early July, I understand. What will you be doing specifically for NBC while you're in Tokyo?

I'll be on the games event management team, as an accommodations runner, so I'll be in the Hilton Odaiba, which is where the main NBC TV studio will be. I'll do everything from helping translate, to helping schedule like buses, taxis, whatever the NBC employees need.

You mentioned translating, and we should mention that you speak fluent Japanese. You were actually born in Tokyo. How do you feel about visiting this place where you were born? And then having the opportunity to speak Japanese to people in the native language?

I'm really excited. I was born in Tokyo, and I only lived there for a year, actually. But we would, as a family, would go back a couple times a year. But I haven't been back since I was probably 12. So I'm very excited to go back. My grandma and my cousins and my aunt and uncle are all there. So I'll hopefully get to see them after my two-week quarantine period.

And just being able to speak Japanese with a whole different group of people than I ever really have, because it's always just been family talk. And Japanese, there's "informal" versus "formal" talk, and so I took Japanese at Williams, to work on my formal speaking. Hopefully that'll help me, while I'm there.

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Georgia, we know there's been a lot of controversy over Japan even holding these games while the pandemic is still a serious problem there. You mentioned you're going to have to quarantine for two weeks when you go. Vaccination rates are lower in Japan than they are in the U.S. I'm assuming that you have been vaccinated yourself — maybe I'm wrong about that — but do you or your family have any health or safety concerns about you heading over there?

I'm not too worried about myself. I've been vaccinated. And NBC has a very in-depth safety protocol while we're there.

There is a lot of controversy in Japan, by its citizens, surrounding hosting the Olympics. So hopefully, the Olympic Committee's guidelines will help keep athletes, workers and the Japanese citizens safe, which I have no doubt they will.

I have to ask one more question, Georgia, and that's about discrimination against Asian Americans, which, sadly, is nothing new here in the United States. But this past year has been especially difficult, I think because of the pandemic, for the Asian-American community. I'm wondering if you have felt supported at Williams, and in the community where you live, generally, during these past 15 months. How has it been for you?

Obviously, following the Atlanta shooting, it was a very hard time period for me. I'm a part of the Williams Student-Athletes of Color group. So that's been a really supportive environment for me.

And then also, me and a few Asian American friends, formed AAA, which is Asian American Athletes. It's very new, so we've only met a few times, but hopefully that'll be a space where we can all just get to know each other, support each other and talk to each other about whatever we need.

What do you plan to do after college? I don't want to put too much pressure on you with that question, but do you see ... sports broadcasting as part of your your future?

Yeah, definitely. Hopefully this summer will go well, but I would love to work for NBC Sports. I would love to be a part of their production assistant program. But yeah, obviously, it's all up in the air. And hopefully it'll work out. 

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or tweet Morning Edition host Mitch Wertlieb @mwertlieb

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