Andrean graduate helped provide wrestling coverage at Olympics

2012-10-12T22:00:00Z Andrean graduate helped provide wrestling coverage at OlympicsJohn Burbridge john.burbridge@nwi.com, (219) 933-3371 nwitimes.com

Don't hate the player ... just don't call him that.

"That's what I called them -- players," Kathryn Lisek said of her initiation onto the college wrestling stage.

"I didn't know anything about the sport. I didn't know what a single-leg take-down was," the 1979 Andrean grad related. "And I didn't know about the discipline and dedication needed to excel in it."

How Lisek eventually arrived to produce the wrestling coverage for the Big Ten Network is a long, strange trip that could have never been mapped out. It eventually landed her in London this summer to help cover wrestling for the Olympic Broadcasting Services.

And like for the athletes who qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games, they didn't take everyone.

"We were one of only two (North) American production teams working at the Olympics," Lisek said. "The other one was for beach volleyball.

"For the 2004 and 2008 games, the Poles did the wrestling. For the 2012 games, Doug Brooker (from the Big Ten Network) decided put a bid in."

When considering bids, the Olympic Broadcast Services take in account the expertise and experience of the prospective crew. Brooker's crew, which included veteran freelance producer Lisek, got the green light and its ticket punched for Great Britain.

Still, Lisek -- who has since familiarized herself with the lexicon of the sport -- needed to hone her knowledge even more for her assignment abroad.

"The wrestling style in college (folkstyle) is different from that in the Olympics (Greco-Roman and freestyle)," Lisek said. "So there are different things to look for.

"It was kind of interesting ... down there they had seminars for broadcast crews and even fans to educate them more about the different styles."

As a producer, Lisek's job was to tell a story through visuals, graphics and reporting.

"I have to work with the 'talent', tell them what to look for and inform them of any ongoing storylines," Lisek said. "If a wrestler's parents, wife or girlfriend is in the audience, it's my job to find that out and inform the cameramen and announcers. I'm always in their ear."

For Lisek's job, she had to be cognizant that the whole world was watching -- though not always at the same time.

"We had to be unbiased in our coverage," Lisek said. "We didn't know who or what country would demand what, so we had to cover it all."

After graduating from Andrean, Lisek went to Indiana University and earned a degree in telecommunications, but that wasn't her first choice.

"I was studying public relations and environmental affairs, but I had a hard time staying awake in class," she said.

Even with her degree, Lisek's first job out of college had nothing to do with TV or radio.

"I was kind of disappointed in not doing what I went to school for," Lisek said. "Then I came across someone producing a show called 'Shop Chicago' and they asked me if I wanted to work a camera."

Suddenly, Lisek was back on the air and found work with Ethnic Television Chicago, the Jenny Jones Show, Late Night with Conan O'Brien and was part of the original crew of another Chicago-based program: The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Aside from her work with the Big Ten Network which she hooked up with in 2007, she's an assistant director for NBC News Chicago.

"I work from 3:30 in the morning to 12:30 in the afternoon," said Lisek, who lives in Chicago. "They're crazy hours, especially for those who are married and trying to raise a family.

"But the job can take you to a lot of places."



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