Like a lot of places in Texas, Friday nights in Saginaw are all about football. When the sun goes down, the stands at Saginaw High School’s Rough Riders games fill up quickly. Sometimes more than 2,250 fans gather to support the team with painted faces and stomachs.
One of those Sagniaw faithful is 15-year-old Brec Bassinger. Brec’s brothers introduced her to football when she was six years old. In middle school, she joined her middle school cheer team. Today, Brec is taking her love of football from the sidelines to the field as the star of Nickelodeon’s newest comedy Bella and the Bulldogs, which premieres January 17.
On the show, Brec plays Bella, a middle schooler who goes from head cheerleader to starting quarterback when the coach discovers her incredible throwing arm. At first, Bella struggles to balance life with her new Bulldog teammates without losing her best friends from the cheer squad. But over time, she uses her impressive skill and passion for football to show everyone what it means to throw like a girl.
The Veteran Rookie
Brec has plenty of prior sports experience. She competed in volleyball, track, dabbled with basketball, and was a competitive cheerleader for two years before becoming an actor. But so far, she says the experience of playing with the Bulldogs has been her favorite.
To prepare to play Bella, Brec attended a football camp with fellow cast member and on-screen teammate Coy Stewart (who plays the character Troy). She learned about the cadence of a quarterback while working on her overall form and presence as a QB.
“I’ve always loved football,” she says. “But I didn’t know exactly how to play. I’m kind of a perfectionist so learning the exact way of throwing got me really excited.”
Though she has an on-set stunt double to avoid hard hits during filming, Brec quickly began to empathize with her favorite team and players. After watching her favorite quarterback Tony Romo struggle during some recent seasons, she realized that being a star QB is much harder than it looks. She modeled her cadence off of Peyton Manning and said the most difficult part of the experience is usually remembering and calling the plays.
Fun and Inspiration
Brec says that the set can be fun — and competitive. The cast is often found having throwing competitions or battling each other in other games. But she adds that her experience playing Bella has helped her become more confident and realize that young girls can do anything.
“At first I was a little worried about playing a football player,” she says. “I was scared of trying to keep up with the boys. But I have learned that if you work hard enough at something you can truly do anything!”
It’s a message that really resonates right now. Many of the best young athletes in sports today have been young women including one of the most recent examples: Little League Star Mo’ne Davis — the Sports Illustrated Kids’ SportsKid of the Year.
As Mo’ne’s story was making national headlines this past summer, Brec paid close attention and was reminded of similar stories that had unfolded on her own middle school team.
She says that she hopes these stories about impactful young girls and the new TV show continue to encourage young viewers — especially girls — for years to come.
“Even though people are telling her she can’t,” she says. “She’s doing it anyway. Bella is following her dreams and I hope that inspires people [to do the same].”
Bella and the Bulldogs premieres on Nickelodeon January 17 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. It airs again during the NickSports block on Nicktoons January 21 at 9 p.m. ET/PT and on TeenNick January 23 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. It will also be available on Nick.com, the Nick App, and Nick On Demand beginning January 18.