A love of figure skating is taking Katie McCarter ’10 to the Olympics for the third time. That’s because it’s how her career with the games began, as coordinator of the U.S. figure skating team. And that job was the result of an internship with the U.S. Olympic Committee that she had as an undergraduate.
Now, come July, McCarter will be in Rio de Janeiro as part of the NBC Olympics logistics crew, helping to ensure that all the pieces are in place by the time the 2016 Summer Games open in August.
“It’s a massive production,” McCarter says, adding that some members of the team left for Brazil at the beginning of April and will remain through the summer. She will join them early next month. Yet if not for a change in major, her path might have been quite different.
McCarter started at UNH as a political science major. Her father is an attorney, and she had thought she would be one, too. But after taking a few classes that didn’t excite her, she switched to recreation management and policy. A figure skater growing up, she also joined the synchronized skating team.
During her junior year, McCarter applied for internships with the U.S. Olympic Committee at training centers in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Lake Placid, New York, where Team USA athletes were preparing for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada. McCarter received offers from both training centers and chose Colorado, where she worked on multiple projects in preparation for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
And here’s the best part: McCarter got to go.
“I never worked so hard in my entire life as I did preparing for the Sochi Games.”
“I really wanted to be part of it all, so while I was an intern, I let my supervisor know that if they needed help in Vancouver, I’d be happy to go,” the Mansfield, Massachusetts, native says. “I was still in school, but I got permission from my professors and was able to take two weeks. It was really, really awesome.”
In 2011, McCarter got a job with the Team USA figure skating team and, in 2014, traveled to the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Her hiring, she says, was a direct result of her internship.
“I had made a point to network and volunteer during my time with the U.S. Olympic Committee, and it proved to be beneficial,” McCarter says, noting that she had met her future boss during the internship.
McCarter worked in the athlete high-performance department, the area responsible for providing tools and resources necessary for Team USA athletes to achieve their best results when competing. She also helped with international logistics to secure alternative training sites for the skaters.
“I never worked so hard in my entire life as I did preparing for the Sochi Games,” McCarter says. “It was a difficult location; so many things needed to go right. I didn’t want athletes to worry about anything — their only job was to focus on bringing home a medal for the USA.”
With NBC Olympics, McCarter is responsible for the credential submissions of the estimated 3,000 NBC employees, which allow them to work in Brazil and also grant access to venues during the games. NBC will air more than 6,000 hours of Olympic coverage, which McCarter says is “more than if you replayed every single NFL game from 2015 plus playoffs combined.”
“It will be a big operation. I’ll probably be in constant motion 12 hours a day,” McCarter says. As to just how many of the competitions she’ll be able to see, she adds, “I purchased tickets to women’s gymnastics. Anything else will be icing on the cake.”