MIT Participants Bring Slapshots, Big Macs, and IT to Salt Lake CityBy Eun J. Lee
MIT has sent a few of its finest to Salt Lake City to be a part of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, but not everyone representing the Institute is an elite athlete.
The head coach of MIT Varsity Women’s ice hockey, Katia Pachkevitch, is one of the top players on the Russian national team. Arthur G. Fitzmaurice ’03 is a part of a different kind of team performing in Salt Lake City -- he was chosen out of over 1.3 million McDonald’s employees worldwide to serve the athletes and fans of the Olympic games. And Linda M. Yu ’02, Angus Huang ’01, and Jonathan J. Lee ’02 are all at the Olympics doing technical internships through SchlumbergerSema Company.
Pachkevitch goes for hockey gold
Pachkevitch has been coaching the MIT women’s hockey team for the past three years. However, she has been on leave from the program this season so that she could train for the Olympic games.
“We wish her the best of luck,” said MIT Athletics Department Head Candace Royer. “She has been a wonderful inspiration to our women’s [hockey] team.”
Pachkevitch applied to be the women’s hockey coach during a visit to Boston with a Russian traveling team. “She was so impressive as a potential coach that we had to take her seriously,” Royer said.
Pachkevitch is also a fullback for the New England Storm, a team in the Women’s Professional Football League.
While at MIT, Pachkevitch has contributed significantly to the athletics program.
“She has a rare quality of being an outstanding professional athlete herself while also being able to teach people at all different athletic abilities,” Royer said.
Dara T. Jeffries ’02, co-captain of the MIT women’s ice hockey team, described Pachkevitch as “tough, daunting, intimidating, very good, a friend off the ice, and a coach on the ice.”
“She is just the greatest coach I’ve ever had,” Jeffries said. “[Pachkevitch] does it all for the sheer love of the game.”
Team members no small fries
Fitzmaurice said that qualifying for the McDonald’s Olympic team was no easy feat. “It was a pretty extensive application process,” Fitzmaurice said.
He received the news that he was going to the Olympics during Rush this past fall. McDonald’s is sending four hundred of its finest to staff five restaurants in Salt Lake city for the duration of the games.
McDonald’s is paying for his flight, lodging, and also for tickets to Olympic events. Fitzmaurice left for Salt Lake City this past Wednesday and will return on Feb. 26.
Fitzmaurice has been working for McDonald’s since he was sixteen. “It was my first summer job, and I’ve been working [on and off] for five years since then,” Fitzmaurice said.
This past summer, Fitzmaurice took a technical job in Boston during the week, but commuted to his home in New Hampshire on the weekends to work at McDonald’s.
“I’ve said goodbye a few times, but for some reason I keep coming back,” Fitzmaurice said. “I really enjoy the company of the people that I work with.”
Fitzmaurice says that he will try to maintain his studies while in Salt Lake City. “Fortunately my professors have been very accommodating,” Fitzmaurice said. “They recognize this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
He has taken extra measures this term to be able to keep up with his classes while he is away. “I got my problem sets early, and this is the first term that I bought all my textbooks,” Fitzmaurice said. “I’m going to read on the plane and mail my problem sets home.”
Students run Olympic technology
Yu is an Assistant Venue Information Services Manager at Soldier Hollow, the venue for biathlon, cross-country, and nordic Olympic events.
“[My work group] is basically responsible for the technology behind the Olympics like timing and scoring, the data feed, and even the administrative computers,” Yu said.
Working behind the scenes at the games has many perks for Yu and her co-workers.
“Because of my accreditation, I am able to access more areas than the spectators,” Yu said. “For example, yesterday during the women's 7.5K biathlon, I was able to stand about fifteen feet behind the shooters and watch them hit the targets.”
“I also like to hang out at the finish line during cross country races,” Yu said.
She has had many unique opportunities to experience the Olympics up close. Yu watched the dress rehearsal of the opening ceremony and also sees athletes on a daily basis.
“I am able to access the athlete, press, and broadcast areas, but I think it’s better to give [the athletes] their own space -- I usually just say hello when I’m around them,” Yu said.
She feels that her professors have also been very accommodating to her situation, but admits that there will be a lot of work to make up when she gets back to MIT.
“Since I came out during final exam week for training, I missed my 15.501 final, so I have to take that when I get back,” Yu said. “I’ll definitely hit the ground running when I get back to Boston.”
Huang received his MEng this past December and is a Technical Services Supervisor (TSS) at the Peaks Ice Arena which hosts some Olympic hockey matches.
“I pretty much provide tech support and oversee a group of volunteers who work the IS Help Desk, which includes answering phones and troubleshooting computer related problems,” Huang said.
He is also enjoying his time in Salt Lake City away from the games. “I try to go snowboarding whenever I get a chance,” Huang said. “The snow here is great and there’s some awesome terrain to ride.”