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NBC News Learn and NBC Sports launch "Women in STEM at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics & Paralympics" in collaboration with Lyda Hill Philanthropies

March 09, 2020, 5:30 p.m. (ET)

Katie Ledecky poses for a photo at 2019 NBC/USOPC promotional shoot on Nov. 23, 2019 in West Hollywood, California.


NEW YORK – March 9, 2020 – Today, NBC News Learn, the education division of NBC News, and NBC Sports launched “Changing the Games: Women in STEM at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics & Paralympics,” an original video series showcasing the female Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) professionals behind the Olympic and Paralympic athletes. The series is sponsored by Lyda Hill Philanthropies as part of their IF/THEN® initiative aimed at inspiring more young women and girls to pursue STEM careers. The series release comes during Women’s History Month, and in the same week as the Olympic torch lighting in Greece on March 12.         

Narrated by NBC Sports Host and Anchor Kathryn Tappen, the 10-part series explores key areas in STEM and takes viewers behind the scenes as United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) staff members and others help athletes prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics beginning July 24 and Paralympics beginning August 25.  Each video features a female STEM professional and Olympic and Paralympic athletes from a variety of sports talking about the integral role that STEM plays in their respective sports. Viewers will learn about topics ranging from the science behind preparing for the heat and humidity in Tokyo to the role that math and statistics play in beach volleyball to how psychology and mindfulness are incorporated into para triathlete Hailey Danz’s training.  

The following Olympic and Paralympic athletes and STEM professionals are featured in the series:

1. “Volleyball Stats & Analytics”— April Ross and Alix Klineman, USA Beach Volleyball; Jennifer Kessy, Coach, USA Beach Volleyball
2. “Growth & Impact”—David Boudia, USA Diving; Katrina Young, USA Diving; Susie Parker-Simmons, Senior Sports Dietician, U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee
3. “Injury Prevention”— Adeline Gray, USA Wrestling; Sarah Wilson, Research Engineer, Steadman Philippon Research Institute
4. “Strength & Conditioning”— Katie Ledecky, USA Swimming; Haley Anderson, USA Swimming; Amanda Fleece, Senior Strength & Conditioning Coach, U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee
5. “Biomechanics & Prosthetics”— Allysa Seely, Paratriathlon; Dr. Amber Donaldson, Senior Director, Sports Medicine Clinics, U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee
6. “Brain Stimulation”— Riley McCusker, USA Gymnastics; Christian Taylor, USA Track & Field; Katrina Young, USA Diving; Vincent Hancock, USA Shooting; Dr. Lindsay Shaw, Sr. Sports Psychophysiologist, U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee
7. “Track & Field’s Doctor”— Brittney Reese, USA Track & Field; Dr. Monique Burton, Physician, USA Track & Field
8. “Heat & Humidity”— Jennifer Valente, USA Cycling; Lindsay Golich, Exercise Physiologist, U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee
9. “Keeping USA Soccer Healthy”— Julie Ertz, USA Soccer; Megan Rapinoe, USA Soccer; Crystal Dunn, USA Soccer; Kelley O'Hara, USA Soccer; Dr. Monica Rho, Team Physician, U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team
10. “The Power of Mindfulness”— Hailey Danz, Paratriathlon; Dr. Sara Mitchell, Sport Psychologist, U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee

“The ‘Changing the Games’ series combines the journalism of NBC News with the important message of Lyda Hill Philanthropies’ IF/THEN initiative during Women’s History Month—a celebratory time for women across the globe,” said Soraya Gage, General Manager of NBC News Learn and VP of Education, NBC News. “It depicts a unique narrative that amplifies the voices of women in STEM and empowers the next generation to pursue STEM careers.”

“The Olympics capture the imaginations of fans of all ages. We are especially excited to partner with NBC News Learn, the USOPC and Lyda Hill Philanthropies to inspire young women interested in STEM careers by building connections to Olympic sports through the many dedicated women – both athletes and the professionals who support them in so many ways – who power Team USA to such great success,” says Joe Gesue, Senior Vice President, Olympics and Executive Editor, NBC Sports Group.

Download the Team USA app today to keep up with all your favorite sports, plus access to videos, Olympic and Paralympic team bios, and more.

“STEM is everywhere and Changing the Games spotlights female STEM professionals who represent the science behind the sport, helping these incredible Olympic and Paralympic athletes succeed,” said Nicole Small, CEO of Lyda Hill Philanthropies and co-founder of the IF/THEN® Initiative.  “We deeply believe that, ‘IF she can see it, THEN she can be it,’ and while not everyone can be an Olympian, this series presents a window into the many STEM career opportunities in sports for young women.”

The series will be released on NBC News Learn’s K-12 and Higher Education platforms, which reach millions of students and teachers around the country, and will also be available to the public on NBCNewsLearn.com. Each video segment aligns with state and national learning standards. Viewers can learn more about the series and join the discussion by following @NBCNewsLearn on Facebook and Twitter.


NBC News Learn is the education brand of NBC News – distributing the journalism and storytelling of NBC News to students in the classroom, at home, and in the community. Our award-winning content, innovative live broadcasts, and extensive, exclusive news archives have made NBC News Learn an invaluable education tool for K-12 and Higher Ed students and teachers across the country.

NBC Sports Group serves sports fans 24/7 with premier live events, insightful studio shows, and compelling original programming. The sports media company consists of NBC Sports, NBC Olympics, NBCSN, Golf Channel, Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, NBC Sports Regional Networks, NBC Sports Radio and NBC Sports Digital, which includes NBCSports.com, NBCOlympics.com, GolfChannel.com, the digital assets of the NBC Sports Regional Networks, Rotoworld, the NBC Sports Talk franchise, multiple apps, and two transactional sports businesses, GolfNow and SportsEngine, and a direct-to-consumer product NBC Sports Gold. NBC Sports Group possesses an unparalleled collection of media rights agreements, partnering with some of the most prestigious sports properties in the world: the International Olympic Committee and United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the NFL, NHL, NASCAR, INDYCAR, PGA TOUR, The R&A, PGA of America, Churchill Downs, Premier League, Tour de France, French Open, and many more.

IF/THEN® is part of Lyda Hill Philanthropies®’ commitment to fund game-changing advancements in science and nature. IF/THEN® seeks to further advance women in STEM by empowering current innovators and inspiring the next generation of pioneers. Rooted in a firm belief that there is no better time to highlight positive and successful female professional role models, IF/THEN® is designed to activate a culture shift among young girls to open their eyes to STEM careers by: (1) funding and elevating women in STEM as role models, (2) convening cross-sector partners in entertainment, fashion, sports, business and academia to illuminate the importance of STEM everywhere, and (3) inspiring girls with better portrayals of women in STEM through media and learning experiences to pique their interest in STEM careers. To learn more, visit www.ifthenshecan.org or follow IF/THEN® on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Lyda Hill Philanthropies® encompasses the charitable giving of founder Lyda Hill and includes her foundation and personal philanthropy. As one of its priorities, Lyda Hill Philanthropies® funds transformational advances in science and nature. To learn more, please visit https://lydahillphilanthropies.org/.

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