Texas State Covers the Olympics

Bobcats Behind the Scenes at the Olympics

The Olympic Experience

February 22, 2018

The Bobcat runners’ whirlwind adventure is coming to an end. John reflects on his time in Pyeongchang:

“This has been the most unreal experience. Throughout this month, I’ve learned so much from the amazing staff at NBC. Now, there’s one show left and it’s very bittersweet. Working at the Today show has been a lot of hard work but a lot of fun at the same time. I can’t believe how quickly the time has flown by.

When people ask me how my experience was, I will tell them exactly how I felt, which was way more than what anyone could see on social media.

I’ll share the stories of meeting world-class athletes, but also feeling the pressures of bringing them to set on time for a live show. The biggest takeaway for me was that whether you’re at the athletic venues or in the studio, sometimes things don’t go as planned and you learn to roll with the punches.

These Winter Games were filled with big Olympic moments, but the fondest memories for me are the little, ordinary ones with my fellow runners: grabbing lunch, tripping over each other while carrying coffee on our daily runs and cleaning up the set after a long day.

Knowing that we’re all working together to put on the best show possible has been an incredible bonding experience. 

Aside from what I’ve taken away professionally, it’s been a personal journey for me. As a Korean-American, it’s been surreal to take part in such a global event in the country where my parents are from. Growing up, it was almost like Korea never existed, because outside of my household it wasn’t prevalent. But here, the small cultural things are everywhere and it really makes me appreciate my heritage.

I was able to watch the opening ceremony with Korean as well as American runners and it gave me chills to see the unity and peace promoted through that two-hour event. I know that what I’ve learned here will be with me forever.”    

three men

John with Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy

woman at the Today show set

Eun Jeong on set

two Olympic athletes and John

John with Maia and Alex Shibutani

Today show anchors

Eun Jeong with Hoda Kotb, Savannah Guthrie and Al Roker

students at the anchor desk

Eun Jeong at the anchor desk

group of students

the Today show team

Snapchat update from Dr. Burns

Covering the Olympics

February 16, 2018

The games are underway, and so is the Today show’s live broadcast. Both John and Eun Jeong are much busier now with a wide variety of ever-changing tasks. The nature of live television means that they have to adapt quickly to any situation.

John's update:

“When I first started my journey at the Olympics as a runner for the Today show, I knew that it would be a lot of late nights and long hours. 

However, I never imagined that I would literally be running across the Olympic Park to meet guests as part of my duties here.

The first live broadcast of the Today show from the Gangneung Olympic Park was a surreal experience. Along with a fellow runner, I was in charge of transporting Korean performers to the set. The performers consisted of traditional Korean musicians and dancers of all ages.

It was interesting to be able to communicate with the performers using only Korean. I felt proud that I still have a good grasp of the language of where my family is from.

I was also able to see many of the athletes in person and was able to grab a photo with Pita Taufatofua, the Tongan flag bearer and skier. It’s bizarre seeing world-class athletes compete on television, and then seeing them in person. I’ve come to realize that they are human, and more than what you see on screen.

Although we only served in a small role, it’s liberating to see the work we accomplished materialize on national television. 

Due to many people’s efforts, including ours, an American audience got to experience Korean culture and history. This in itself was a humbling moment.”    

students with Kier Simmons

John with Keir Simmons after his Today show appearance

students with Today show staff

John & Today show staff holding up Korean "finger hearts"

students with Pita Taufatofua

John with Pita Taufatofua, Tongan flag bearer

student standing in front of a fish display

John at a local market

woman standing in front of Olympic rings

U.S. women's hockey team being interviewed for the Today show

man holding a sign

Celebrating Dr. Burn's birthday

Preparing for the Olympics

February 9, 2018

As preparations build toward the opening ceremony, an excited spirit fills Pyeongchang. The ever-present Olympic rings — on water bottles, towels, trashcans — represent unity, and John observes that the people on-site are living up to this ideal. Their can-do attitude is powerful: In the span of only a few days, the site has gone from fairly empty and unbuilt to bustling and ready.

“So many things are happening, and I get to witness everything come together,” John reports. “Seeing all the venues in person before anyone in the public is allowed to see them is an awe-inspiring thing. I got to go up close to the Olympic Sliding Centre where the bobsled events will be held, and touch the ice.”   

two students talking about their olympics experience

John and Eun Jeong at the Olympics!

February 5, 2018

John, Eun Jeong and the rest of the Today show crew have been busy perfecting the logistics of covering a huge, complex event like the Olympic Games. One of the runners’ main tasks is scoping out the city so that they’ll be able to pick up athletes and drive them to the Today show seamlessly. John has already visited all 12 of the athletics venues. He’s also helped build the sets, prep rooms and offices needed to run the show.

“My experience in Pyeongchang so far has been amazing. … Everyone is so welcoming and willing to help each other out no matter the task. The games haven’t even started yet, and I already feel so close to my co-workers, and feel so fulfilled with the work I’m doing here. I’m so excited for the games to start, and can’t wait to see what else Pyeongchang has in store for me!” — John

John Lee in front of the Olympic rings on a beach

John at the Olympic rings

command center, screens

Command center at the Today show

woman at a computer desk

Eun Jeong in the office

room full of people sitting at computers

Today show Olympics office

moutains in the snow

Pyeongchang, South Korea

man in front of sign that read PyeongChang 2018

Dr. Burns