Interview with Brooke Olzendam, Part 2
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 2 of the video interview, Brooke discusses her time with the Portland Trail Blazers and the tragic passing of her husband Andy Collins. Click here to watch part 1 of the video interview.
CHRIS DENARI: Now one of the things that she did is she started her career -- she went to the enemy, I guess.
BROOKE OLZENDAM: I did.
CHRIS: When you’re at Washington State, the Washington Huskies are …
BROOKE: It is our rival.
CHRIS: What was it like to go work for the Huskies?
BROOKE: Well, my mom, who is a diehard Coug, that was hard for her. She got over it quick, though.
It was interesting, because it is quite a rivalry in the state of Washington, every state has one, but it was pretty intense. I just said, “Let’s go for it, I want to work,” I didn’t care where, and I became part of that family too, the Huskies family. My Cougs are killing me right now and they’re so upset, but you just become a part of the family you work for. I covered the Huskies for three straight years, just fell in love with their staff, their coaches. You just, you go where the work is, A, and B, you love the work. Slowly, that rivalry, the biasness, it goes away.
CHRIS: Yep. Then, she made the move down to Los Angeles. I was going to say, it used to be the Pac-8, then it was the Pac-10, now it’s the Pac-12. It was the Pac-10 when you were there, right/
BROOKE: Yes, it was the Pac-10.
CHRIS: Okay, talk about your experience in L.A.
BROOKE: Well, L.A., it was great, because I was hosting a show, “Running with the Pac,” about the Pac-10 -- when it was the Pac-10 -- and every Thursday through Sunday I went to a different Pac-10 school. I flew there, did a half-hour magazine show where I interviewed coaches, players, sometimes ADs [athletic directors], anybody, really, some students, some fans. It was focused on that one Pac-10 school and I loved it. I mean, you know, you love going to college towns …
BROOKE: So, four days engulfed in one little city. Palo Alto -- Stanford; Cal-Berkeley, that’s an experience -- if you can get to Cal-Berkeley, I highly recommend it, you’ll never forget it; Pullman; Seattle -- I’d stay at home and do one at UW.
That was one of the best experiences of my life, because it was me, I was a one-man show -- I produced it, I hosted it, I would help edit it. It was really fulfilling to me and rewarding, but it was just a blast to get to go to these schools and see the kids. It was awesome.
CHRIS: This is not her first time to work with an NBA team, because before you came here you had experience working with the Portland Trailblazers.
BROOKE: I did. I did a little ‘pre’ and ‘post’ for them, now and then, and we did a show, it was called “Talkin’ Ball,” which, we talked ball, about the Portland Trailblazers. I got to follow them, and that was exciting to me because Seattle not longer had a team -- has a team -- so I didn’t have my NBA fix up there. So, I got to travel down, just three hours south is Portland from Seattle; I’d drive down there every Thursday, do a little show before and after. I got to cover the NBA, which was great, and I got my little fix in there, which was great, and I’d come back up and cover the rest of the Pac-10.
CHRIS: Now her chance to work on a full-time basis with Pacers Sports & Entertainment, you’ll see Brooke on FOX Sports Indiana.
You knew about the Midwest, I know one of your best friends just visited you from the Cleveland, Ohio, area. What was your expectation as you came to Indianapolis?
BROOKE: Okay, you’re going to think I’m kidding, you’re going to think I’m embellishing. I’m not. Every single person said, “You will love it, the people are amazing, you’ll feel like you’re with family, everyone will embrace you.” I’m thinking, is Jamie Berns paying these people, because every person I talked to said the same thing. I got here, and it blew me out of the water. Everyone is genuine, they are sincere, they are welcoming. I swear, I feel like, in another life, I’ve said this before, I was born in the Midwest, probably Indianapolis. It just feels like this is my city. I know you probably thing I’m going overboard, but I’m serious. You know, I’ve told you that from the get go. It is truly, it feels like home.
CHRIS: And this comes at a good time for your life, doesn’t it?
BROOKE: It does.
CHRIS: Her agent is Clark Kellogg’s former agent, and you were sort of late to the party at getting here to Indianapolis, but I know, for all the people that are close to you, they’re really happy that you’re here. If you go anywhere online, all you have to do is google ‘Brooke Olzendam,’ and find out what happened to her this summer -- the love of your life, Andy (Collins), passing away. This has been a good time for you to come here and sort of re-energize your life, hasn’t it?
BROOKE: It is. I’ve said it before, there are many people up there, and they placed me in this position, Andy one of them. I didn’t know where I was going to fall, I didn’t know if I’d even be in this business still. We were supposed to go to Florida together, we were in Florida when he passed, and I just couldn’t go back there. It was a place that he and I were supposed to go together, to be together, and I didn’t want to go back there alone.
So, my agent just kind of started looking everywhere, talked to Jamie Berns, said, “Please take a look at her.” The stars aligned, and it just all worked out perfectly, and this is truly where I’m supposed to be right now.
I’m supposed to be in this business, and I know that now. I thought it before, but there’s a time, when things like this happen to you, where you don’t know what you’re doing, you don’t know what life has in store for you, you don’t know where to go, and everything kept pushing me towards this job, towards Indianapolis, and it really was the right place to fall.
CHRIS: Well, this is Brooke Olzendam. You will see her throughout the year on FOX Sports Indiana. We’re so glad she’s with us.
So, we just want to introduce you to Brooke Olzendam, and we’ll see you during the season here on Pacers.com.