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Posted on Fri, Sep 4, 2009 : 4:18 p.m.

Why I Love College Sports: Actress Nicole Forester

By Michael Rothstein


Back when I was covering Notre Dame for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, I started a feature called "Why I Love College Sports," talking to those from the entertainment industry and politics about their love of college sports (mostly Notre Dame there). And, we're bringing it over here.

The first person to join us in the occasional feature at is actress Nicole Forester. Forester was born in Ann Arbor, went to Western Michigan and recently moved back to Ann Arbor. She's best known for portraying Cassie Winslow on the CBS soap opera Guiding Light and a four-episode arc as Jill Reiter on Beverly Hills 90210. Since she moved back, she became a Michigan football fan. While still a novice with the game, she's hooked.

Michael Rothstein: How’d you get started liking football, specifically Michigan football?
Nicole Forester: “Well, my husband (Paul Brown) and I just relocated to Michigan. We’re both from Michigan originally and I was actually born in Ann Arbor. I was born in the old St. Joe’s Hospital and we were expecting our first and we actually had her in the new St. Joe’s Hospital. So that’s what brought us back to the Ann Arbor area and my husband also to U of M undergrad and my dad went to Michigan, my older brothers went to Michigan, I’m in fact the only member of my family who didn’t go to U of M so it was about time I spent some time in Ann Arbor. My husband is also a huge sports enthusiast so he’s the one who brought me to my first football game last season and to a bunch of basketball games and we went to the Michigan-Western hockey game and even to a gymnastics meet. So he was dead-set on bringing me to every game possible this season so we’ll be there on Saturday.”

MR: When you go to that first game, were you following football beforehand? I know you said you had fallen for (the game)?
NF: “I was kind of in shock. It was kind of like a light bulb went off and I went ‘This is why people love football so much.’ When you’re actually in the stadium, not to mention the Big House, and you feel the energy, you can really see clearly what’s happening when they are moving across the field as opposed to a layman watching on television, I had no idea what was going on. It always looked to me like a bunch of guys lining up and running into each other over and over again. Whereas you’re watching it in person and you have someone there explaining the game to you, you can really see the progress across the field and it’s so exciting and the crowd is awesome and it’s a really exciting experience when you’re actually there.”

MR: Before you moved back to Ann Arbor, were you watching Michigan games on TV? Did your husband make you watch?
NF: “He would laugh at me when I would ask stupid questions. He would watch the game on TV and I think the first question I asked him, it was a real red flag for him, it was last September, I was like ‘So, is this like the beginning of the season or near the end of the season?’ He just gave me a look of absolute incredulity. He just had this blank look on his face, like I couldn’t seriously be asking him that question.”

MR: So how much have you picked up in the year?
NF: “I probably will have lost much of what he explained to me last year but hopefully he’ll have a refresher course this Saturday and it’ll all make sense once again.”

MR: Did you pay any attention to football growing up?
NF: “No. Isn’t that weird? We’re not a big football family. The sports that were on television growing up were tennis and golf. The funny thing is, they aren’t as much to watch in person as football and basketball.”

MR: When you to to the first game last year, what got you hooked?
NF: “The crowd, definitely. Just the crowd, being in the atmosphere and the feeling, the energy, watching all the crazy fans. The energy of the place, definitely.”

MR: What’s it going to be like this year versus last year for you?
NF: “I hope by the end of the season I really know what’s going on and follow everything. Maybe get to know the stats, pick some of my favorite players. My father-in-law last year knew every player and what year they are and there were a lot of new freshmen on the team and was familiarizing himself with that. I want to know the background of my favorite players, but I have to find out who they are going to be.”


MR: Is this weird for you, being a novice at this?
NF: “Definitely, especially when it’s clearly so important. Like, how have I lived my whole life without college sports, you know? It’s a new adventure.”

MR: Going through this, your goal, you said, is to find favorite players. How do you plan on going about that at this point? Is it going to be what your husband says or more your own?
NF: “I’m going to find out some personal stats about the players to be able to favor anyone. I imagine that my husband and my father-in-law will give me some of that information and then I will decide.”

MR: What are you anticipating out of Saturday for you?
NF: “Well, I’m just looking forward to kicking back, throwing on the baseball cap, wearing the Michigan clothes and it being that kind of ritual where you get dressed for the game, have game food, just to soak up the atmosphere. It’s amazing how it can be the day, not just ‘Oh, I’m going to watch the game.’ It’s an event. It’s the whole day, don’t ya think?”

MR: It sounds like something you’re going to stick with, that you’re in now.
NF: “I’m in. I married in. There’s no choice for me. My husband ski raced for Michigan, was the No. 1 skier at Michigan for four years, was the Midwestern Collegiate Champion. He led the team to the national championships. The whole Michigan sports, it’s kind of not allowed for me not to get into it so being a football fan and a basketball fan, that’s within my grasp. I can’t participate, but I can go and cheer.”

MR: What’s your husband’s name?
NF: “Paul Brown. But people called him ‘Bing.’ He’s really into the sports thing. His uncle was Forest Evashevski, the quarterback at Michigan way back. Then he went on to be the head coach at the University of Iowa. So he’s got the sports in the blood. It’s just going to have to be my new thing.”

MR: You did go to Western, though.
NF: “But I was a musical theatre major, which means you’re always, always, always in the theatre or at rehearsal. You’re not going to football games.”

MR: Your career, where are you at right now? I know you just had a child, so that probably affects things.
NF: “I feel like I’m on sabbatical. I did just have a child. We had our first baby girl six months ago and everything kind of happened at the same time where I ended a three-year contract on a soap opera called Guiding Light on CBS and when my contract ended my husband received a job offer to work in Michigan and his parents are here and my family is here so we thought we’d go for it. While I’m here, I don’t know how much acting work I’m going to be doing but before that I had done a variety of mostly television work, 13 years in LA, four years in New York. I don’t know. I hear wonderful things about the Purple Rose Theater so I will maybe look into what Jeff Daniels is up to in a season or two.”

If you have suggestions for who to feature in 'Why I Love College Sports,' send an e-mail to and we'll try to make it happen.



Fri, Sep 4, 2009 : 10:59 p.m.

I never would have looked in the entertainment section. Thanks, Michael. It's a cool feature.