Jen Bielema talks about becoming first lady of Wisconsin football
Wisconsin football coach married in March
Bret Bielema has been the head coach of the University of Wisconsin Badgers football team since 2006, and for most of those years, he was the most eligible bachelor in Madison.
But seven weeks ago, the 42-year-old coach and his 27-year-old bride got married after a four-year courtship.
Bielema met his wife, Jen, when they were both attending an event in Las Vegas. She is originally from Florida but spent her summers in Oshkosh, where her father lives.
WISC-TV anchor Susan Siman spent time with Jen Bielema at the spring game last weekend at Camp Randall and sat down for a conversation at the couple's Fitchburg home.
Susan Siman: Congratulations. How does it feel to be married?
Jen Bielema: It's amazing. The wedding was spectacular. It was everything I could have ever imagined. It's kind of, everything is just so surreal right now.
Susan: How did you meet Bret?
Jen: We met in Las Vegas at the Wynn Casino. I was with my best friend and her boyfriend at the time. He came up and we had small talk and conversation: 'Where are you from? What brings you to Vegas?' And when he said he was from Wisconsin, that perked my interest.
Susan: Why was that?
Jen: My family is from Oshkosh. Growing up, we actually spent a lot of time in the Oshkosh, Wis., area.
Susan: But you grew up most of the time in Florida?
Jen: Yes, I was born and raised in Tampa, Fla., so summertime, our getaway was in Oshkosh.
Susan: Did you know who he was?
Jen: No, I didn't. I didn't even know he played football or coached or anything until about four months after we met.
Susan: Really? He didn't tell you right away?
Jen: No, we just hit it off, and he never really expressed what he did as a profession.
Susan: How did he propose?
Jen: We decided for spring break we would go away together on a trip. He gave it to me. He said, 'You plan this trip,' and we decided to go on a cruise. It was the first night at dinner. We were waiting for our table, and he started talking about us and our past and that he didn't want to be without me in the future, and he got teary-eyed and got down on his knee and proposed.
Susan: Were you surprised?
Jen: I had no idea.
Susan: Is he a romantic guy?
Jen: He is; he's so romantic. Everything is so genuine with him and he's such a sensitive, emotional guy that a lot of people don't see.
Susan: He was a bachelor for a long time. Did you ever wonder about that or think about that?
Jen: You know, in the back of my mind I did, and I always convinced myself that it was because of his profession, because it's such a demanding job.
Susan: You describe yourself as a private person. Now, you're in very public role; you're the first lady of football. What has that been like?
Jen: Truly, it has no real effect on me as far as him being a different person versus the guy I met.
Susan: But what's it like for your being the spouse of such a high-profile person?
Jen: No different really.
Susan: Do you enjoy it?
Jen: I know sounds silly, but it's just he and I always.
Susan: What's it like for you to watch him coach? Is it stressful?
Jen: I'm so stressed. If we're winning, I have to leave the room or switch chairs. We're very superstitious.
Susan: We don't see Bret after a tough loss. How does he take it?
Jen: It's pretty tough. I can tell you, there's been times when we come home and it's a night game and we sit here on the couch and watch the games and he doesn't even want to change out of his suit.
Susan: As you look to the future, do you think about starting a family? Do you talk about kids?
Jen: Yes, we'd like to get through the summer first. We don't have an exact time set, but it will be sooner than later.
Bret and Jen Bielema got married on March 10 at St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church. Bret's best man was Paul Quiava, his best friend from Iowa. The reception was held at the Monona Terrace.
Jen Bielema's background is in finance, but she's not working right now. She took time off to plan the wedding and to oversee construction of the new house they're building.
Jen Bielema is very involved in events and causes in the community that her husband is a part of, which she loves. She said she's very grateful that everyone in Madison has been so warm and genuine offering congratulations.
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