Interview with Brooke Olzendam, Part 1
In October, the Indiana Pacers and FOX Sports Indiana hired Brooke Olzendam as TV Host/Sideline Reporter for Pacers TV broadcasts.
Olzendam joins the Pacers and FOX Sports Indiana after a two-year stint with CBS College Sports Network as their prime time football sideline reporter. She has also performed sideline and reporting duties for Comcast SportsNet Northwest, covering a broad spectrum of sports, from professional baseball to horse racing; and hosted pre and postgame shows for the Portland Trail Blazers.
In part 1 of the video interview, Brooke discusses growing up with a basketball coach as a father and what initially got her interested in sports broadcasting. Click here to watch the second installment of the video interview.
CHRIS DENARI: Welcome to Pacers.com. It’s time to introduce one of the newest members of Pacers Sports and Entertainment and our FOX Sports Indiana family.
Let’s welcome Brooke Olzendam, our new pregame-, halftime-, and postgame-show host, and sideline reporter on FOX Sports. You’ve got a lot of titles there.
BROOKE OLZENDAM: I’ve got a lot of work. Man, I didn’t know what I was signing up for.
CHRIS: Well, welcome.
BROOKE: Thank you.
CHRIS: We’re so glad to have Brooke here. Brooke and I have had a chance in the last month or so to spend some time, and I’ve gotten to know Brooke, and now it’s (time for) all fans of Pacers basketball and Pacers.com to get to know a little bit about you.
Now, the one thing I would say, there are already people on staff with the Pacers from the Great Northwest, and that’s where you’re from.
BROOKE: That is where I’m from; born and raised in Spokane, Washington, which is eastern Washington. I went to Washington State University in Pullman -- the rolling hills of the Palouse, if you know anything about that; it’s far out there, it’s tough to get to -- and then I lived in Seattle for a couple of years, did a little stint in L.A. for a year, and now I’m a Midwest girl.
CHRIS: Well, she’s an Indy girl, and one of the things that Brooke and I have in common is our love of basketball, and it really starts with a father who is a high school coach. So, she comes to Indiana, the great Hoosier State, great basketball, but you know basketball pretty well in the state of Washington, don’t you?
BROOKE: I know it very well. Born and raised in a gym, like yourself. My dad coached for over 30 years. I get a little braggy about this, if it’s okay.
CHRIS: It’s all right.
BROOKE: He’s in the Washington State Coaches Hall of Fame. One of the most amazing moments was two years ago when I got to see him inducted into that, which was just a moment, let me tell you.
But, born and raised in a gym; spent every last second of my childhood with the players, just playing around, shooting around. They, of course, accepted me in, so I thought I was the coolest kid around.
Playing in all the tournaments, I was the only girl on mostly all-boys teams, so you had to rebound to get the ball, they would never pass it to you.
But, I know the Xs and Os pretty darn well.
CHRIS: So, at what point then, you said you played with the guys, with the boys, at what point did you make the move to play with the girls?
BROOKE: Well, I moved from Medical Lake, it was a small town where my dad coached; it was a suburb of Spokane. We moved into the city when I was in the 5th grade, and they had girl’s teams there. So, I started playing with the girls, then AAU and all that, it just started rolling. I started playing, of course, with my 7th and 8th grade team into high school, and I played for the most amazing coach, Linda Sheridan, she started Title IX, she’s a legend in the Pacific Northwest -- you guys probably haven’t heard of her, but she started Title IX, amazing -- and she taught me everything I know, along with my father, about basketball.
CHRIS: Let’s talk about your broadcasting career, because when you look at Brooke’s resume, it’s outstanding, that’s one of the things that drew her to the Pacers and FOX Sports Indiana.
Talk about how you got interested in sports broadcasting. We know that you’re a daughter of a coach, so clearly that is in your DNA, and your blood. At what point at Washington State did you say, “Hey, this is what I want to do”?
BROOKE: Well, at Washington State, they have an amazing broadcasting school, Edward R. Murrow, who most know of in the broadcasting world; it’s their communication school. When I went to school, I tried business for a second, and about the second day of economics, said, “This is not for me,” and I was out in a heartbeat.
I knew there was such a great communications school, I knew I wanted to do something in sports; I wasn’t sure what, so I started taking communications classes. They had a great program where you were in front of the camera within Day One of your classes, and I thought, “I like this, I can do this.” I’m a talker -- you know this, you’re aware of this …
CHRIS: We like to talk. I mean, that’s why we’re in this business; we like to talk.
BROOKE: … and I know sports better than anything. So, let’s see, sports, talking, I think I’m going to go with sports broadcasting.
I knew basketball, like you said, I knew basketball very well -- I know most sports pretty darn well, basketball by far the best -- but kind of got caught up on my football, on my hockey, even -- I covered the Detroit Red Wings, back in the day -- and just got, kind of, my boundaries with sports, because I didn’t know everything. I knew basketball and football pretty well, but the rest of them I had to kind of brush up on.
Then, it just kind of flew, and then every class I took, I loved it more, I loved it more, and I loved it more. I started calling games, we had a couple of shows we did -- it’s called Cable 8, it you went to Washington State, you know, most of you probably don’t, but it is a channel there, a lot of colleges do that -- but I had a couple of my own shows; I had a sports show, I had an extreme sports show, I had a comedy show, and I just fell in love with it, and I thought, this is what I’ve got to do.