MCC Now: MCC Prof Covers Sochi
By Daniel Schwager
Live Wire News Anchor
MCC Now Videographer
Kevin Nathan covers local and regional sports for NBC Connecticut. But last month he left the state to convene with thousands of other journalists from around the world to cover the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Nathan, who teaches Sports on Television at Manchester Community College in addition to his work at NBC, was covering the Olympics for the third time. He also covered the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. As sports anchor and director at NBC Connecticut, Nathan has won six New England Emmy Awards since he joined NBC Connecticut in 1996.
As the Olympics approached and the fears of terrorist attacks during the two-weeks of games grew, Nathan said he and his decided to be safe and stay the so called “Ring of Steel.” That is the steel security fence which was being guarded by Russian soldiers to protect the athletes and visitors in the Olympic complex.
But despite all the security, Nathan did get within shouting distance of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I was 15 feet away from him at a function,” Nathan said. “I was just shocked at how close I was to him.”
Broadcast journalists like him, Nathan said, primarily stayed in the International Broadcast Center. Covering an Olympics requires 16 to 18 hours days, Nathan said.
“A typical day is wake up at 6 o’clock in the morning, go right into the IBC…we would prepare our 11 o’clock or 11:30 late local news, with the help of our colleagues back in Connecticut,” he said. “Once I did that newscast, I would spend the morning writing, editing or producing pieces, and planning ahead on how we are going to get the next set of interviews.
Then we would do our afternoon broadcast from Sochi, which would be the morning edition of local news back in Connecticut…After that wrapped up, we would do more reporting, more interviews, more stories. We might get out of their by 8, 9, 10, o’clock at night. Then we go to sleep and then we get up the next day and do it all over again.”
But the long days weren’t the biggest challenge, Nathan said.
“The biggest difficulty is being away from your family for a month,” he said of his wife and three children. “The second thing is that it’s grueling, but it is most rewarding experience you will have professionally.”
Patience is also required, Nathan said.
“You have to be focused and you have to be poised, you can’t lose your cool, you have to be very patient…you have to be willing to grind through and work very hard and understand that not everything is going to go perfectly every time,” he said.”
Even the creature comforts of him are missing, Nathan said, like familiar food and a familiar language. Calling himself a picky eater, Nathan said he stayed within the IBC, where an NBC commissary provided a variety of American foods. But he did grow fond of Russian dumplings, he said.
A native of Bedford, N. H., Nathan went to high school at Phillips Andover, which is an elite boarding school in Andover, Mass., He graduated from Dickinson College in 1990 with a degree in English.
During his college years, he was an accomplished athlete, playing for Dickinson on its football and baseball teams. In 1989, his senior year of college, the Red Devils football team went undefeated for the first time in 52 years. Nathan was named a Division III All- American at safety after intercepting a school record 10 passes that season. He also served as captain and leader for the school baseball team for three years.
Nathan said he always loved sports and knew he wanted to have a career in the field.
“When I realized I wasn’t going to be a pro athlete, this was next best thing,” he said.
After graduation, he worked at several radio and television stations before landing a job with NBC Connecticut 18 years ago. Now he considers Hartford his home.
“This place is home for me and my family, we love Connecticut,” he said. “From a professional aspect it couldn’t be a better place to cover sports, between UCONN and everything that happens in our backyard in the state, to what we can cover regionally in Boston and New York. It’s been an opportunity of a lifetime.”
Coming back from Russia had its challenges too, Nathan said, since he crossed nine time zones on his return and it took about nine days before he stopped feeling “loopy.”
But, he said he hopes to cover Olympic Games in the future, including the Winter Olympics in South Korea in 2018.
“Before we get to South Korea, you can’t forget about Rio and the Summer Olympics, which is in 28 months, not that I am counting,” he said with a smile.
To see a video of this interview with Kevin Nathan go to the Live Wire’s web site at www. livewiremcc.org.