4 Bobsledders, 5 Master's Degrees: The US Women's Bobsled Team Is as Smart as It Is Fast - NECN
The 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang

The 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang

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4 Bobsledders, 5 Master's Degrees: The US Women's Bobsled Team Is as Smart as It Is Fast

Their graduate schools were proud to cheer on Elana Meyers Taylor, Lauren Gibbs, Jamie Greubel Poser and Aja Evans

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    NEWSLETTERS

    US Women’s Bobsledders Discuss Their Postgrad Degrees

    The four women on the U.S. bobsled team at the 2018 Winter Olympics have or are working toward five master’s degrees between them. They talked with NBC about how that’s changed their perspective. (Published Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018)

    As if the four women on the American women's bobsled team aren't impressive enough for zooming down a frozen tube of ice faster than almost anyone in the world, each bobsledder also holds, or is working toward, at least one master's degree.

    “We have one of the most educated teams, I think, in these Olympics,” Elana Meyers Taylor said at a press conference in Pyeongchang in the opening days of the 2018 Winter Games. “Between the four of us sitting here I think we’ve got five master’s degrees, so we’re highly educated women.”

    This year’s heavily favored bobsled team won a silver medal Wednesday through Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs. Jamie Greubel Poser and Aja Evans finished fifth in a field of 20, just .13 seconds off the podium.

    At the press conference, Meyers Taylor proudly shouted out their postgraduate education and the level of financial security it gives them after they finish competing in the Olympics, so NBC reached out to their schools ahead of the competition to learn more about them. Here's what they — and the athletes — had to say.

    Elana Meyers Taylor
    The 33-year-old from Atlanta received a master's in sports management from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and an MBA in finance from Devry University’s online Keller Graduate School of Management.

    Meyers Taylor's silver is her third Olympic medal, after a bronze from the 2010 Vancouver Games and another silver from the 2014 Sochi Games. She was an athlete as an undergrad at George Washington, too, playing Division 1 softball.  She returned to the school to earn her master’s while training for the 2010 Games.

    She was a great student who would always go the extra mile, quite literally, said sport management professor Lisa Delpy Neirotti, the director of the Masters of Tourism Administration program.

    “Over the years we have discussed sponsorships and endorsements, as she learned this during sports marketing class during her Masters, and now it is great to see how many endorsements she has,” Delpy Neirotti said in an email.

    She said Meyers Taylor has strength in her DNA — her father is Eddie Meyers, a star running back for Navy who served a long tour of duty and then didn't crack a regular season NFL lineup.

    “Elana has worked very hard over the past 12 years to keep improving and working her way to Gold. Bronze in 2010, silver 2014 and fingers crossed gold in 2018!,” Delpy Neirotti said.

    Meyers Taylor joked in an interview with NBC ahead of the competition that she thinks her education sometimes makes her life in the bobsled more difficult.

    “I tend to overthink things and I tend to think too much about curves and sometimes I feel like it would be a little bit better to be less educated to compete in my sport well,” Meyers Taylor said with a laugh.

    Lauren Gibbs
    The 33-year-old bobsledder from Denver made her second Olympics appearance in Pyeongchang. She won a bronze medal at the 2014 Sochi Games with Greubel Poser.

    She received her executive MBA from Pepperdine University in California after graduating from Brown University in Rhode Island. Gibbs told reporters that she obtained her master’s degree “six days before my bobsled combine.”

    She had a lot of fans back at Pepperdine, according to adjunct faculty member Regina Korossy, the school's regional director for Executive Programs.

    “As the person who recruited her to the Executive MBA program and was also her Class Advisor for 19 months as she went through the program, I got to know Lauren very well, and I can tell you that we are all very proud of her here at Pepperdine!” Korossy said in an email.

    Gibbs said in an interview that her network and business background helped her take up the sport despite it being very expensive.

    "It definitely takes some finagling and some logistics to get in a sport that isn't really well known and you don't get a ton of sponsorships, so that's how I think my education's helped me the most," Gibbs said.

    Jamie Greubel Poser
    Greubel Poser obtained a master’s in education on the other side of the country, from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She was an undergrad at Cornell University.

    The 34-year-old from Newtown, Pennsylvania, made her Olympic debut in 2014 at Sochi, winning bronze with Gibbs.

    Greubel Poser said that mixing education with her sport makes it a lot more meaningful: “I think it’s just given us a different perspective on achievement and working for something and giving it absolutely everything.”

    She found bobsled after getting her master's, and joining it was a big decision, "something that you really need to know you're committed to," she said. Her education helped her understand "what I wanted to achieve and what I was willing to do to get there."

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    No one at Lesley University was available to speak to NBC, but Beverly Malone, director of the Teacher Training Institute at the Buckingham Browne & Nichols School, said in an article on the university website that the school was wishing her well.

    “It’s a very intense program—all day in the classroom, then graduate-level coursework, and she was training to make the Olympic Team. But she never let that interfere with her training as a teacher,” Malone said.

    “She was always prepared; she really understood the content of what she was teaching, the kids, and what to do,” she said. “On top of being a good teacher, she’s just a great human being, a really caring person.”

    Aja Evans
    The youngest of the four bobsledders at 29, Evans is halfway through obtaining her MBA from DeVry University’s Keller School of Management online, following in Meyers Taylor's footsteps.

    The Chicagoan said the team's education is an asset: “I feel like being around so many intellectual and smart women just continues to help us strive for more and push it.”

    She highlighted the "cool conversations" she and her teammates have that don't have to do with the sport, helping balance them out and ultimately pushing them to their goals.

    Donna Shaults, DeVry's director of university relations, said in an email that athletes like online education because their schedules can be unpredictable.

    “As athletes of that caliber are frequently unable to commit to being on campus at a certain day/time each week given their training and competition schedules,” Shaults said.