Family ties run deep at Olympics

For the Mazzas of State College, the Olympics are a family affair.

David Mazza is senior vice president for engineering with NBC’s Olympics Division, and is leading technical direction for the Sochi Games.

His brother, Paul Mazza III, works at the headquarters of the NBC Sports Group in Stamford, Conn.

And two of their nieces are working with David Mazza’s operation in Russia, where the 2014 Winter Games are set to begin this week.

Alessandra “Sondi” Stachowski, 24, and Isabella “Bella” Stachowski, 22, are the daughters of Gina Mazza, who is vice president and director of marketing at South Hills School of Business and Technology.

The Stachowksi sisters arrived in Sochi last week, and are working in the NBC film footage area.

“We work with NBC’s media archives in the tape library at the International Broadcast Center in Sochi,” Bella Stachowski explained in an email. “We assist editors and producers at NBC with finding footage from former Olympic Games that they will use in their coverage. ... It is fascinating to be gaining this hands-on experience with the integration of historical tapes and digital asset management.”

Bella graduated from State College Area High School in 2009 and from Kenyon College, in Gambier, Ohio, in December with a degree in international studies.

Sondi Stachowski is a 2007 State High graduate with a 2011 degree in Latin American studies from Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Conn.

“I am really enjoying learning about television,” Sondi said. “I feel so fortunate to have this incredible opportunity.”

Bella said: “I am just trying to absorb every experience that comes my way. I can only hope that in the future I will be fortunate enough to work with as many talented, kind, and passionate people as I have met at NBC.”

The sisters are the latest of seven grandchildren of Maralyn and the late Paul Mazza Jr. to experience working with David Mazza at an Olympic Games.

An older Stachowski sister, Courtney, attended the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy.

“The girls are having a very interesting time,” Maralyn Mazza said. “They find it very exciting. It’s wonderful for them to have the opportunity to experience this.”

Bella Stachowski called David Mazza “a pretty impressive person.”

Their uncle oversees all technical aspects of NBC’s coverage of the games.

“We feel so proud to be related to Dave,” Sondi Stachowksi said. “He is an inspiration to both of us. Not only is he incredibly knowledgeable, but he is also approachable and kind. I feel very lucky to be able to watch him in action.”

“In our short time here, we have already experienced the friendly and inclusive atmosphere that Dave and his colleagues have created at NBC Olympics,” Bella said. “One walk through the halls of NBC with him was all it took to confirm what I have always known — everyone loves Dave. He is an amazingly talented, humble and inspirational leader.”

The sisters even encountered another Centre County face when they arrived in Sochi.

Jason Ganter, 29, is also helping in the NBC tape room. Jason, who will complete his MBA work at Penn State in May, is the son of former Nittany Lions assistant football coach Fran Ganter.

“We were amazed on our first day at work in Russia to find ourselves on the same eight-person team with a fellow State High alum ...,” Bella said. “Little did we know we would make a friend from Happy Valley halfway around the world.”