Thursday, January 28, 2021

Kelsey Mitchell Loves Johngy's Beat

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Kelsey Mitchell was a star basketball player at Ohio State University. The Indiana Fever selected Kelsey with the second overall pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft.

In three seasons with the Fever, Kelsey has played 90 games, averaging 14.3 points, 1.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. She also made the All-Rookie team in 2018.

Kelsey was kind enough to send a shout out to Johngy's Beat. I very much appreciate her thoughts, as well as her time and consideration in WNBA media sessions. In turn, I encourage everyone to go to WNBA.com to learn more about Kelsey, the Fever and the WNBA.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Rob Schamberger at C2E2 2019

Rob Schamberger has been creating art for more than two decades. He is currently the Artist in Residence at the WWE, where he creates stunning artwork.
I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Rob a few years back. That interview can be found at On the Beat With Rob Schamberger.
Rob's journey into wrestling started with his stepfather. Once Rob watched wrestling, he got it and saw the great compatibility with art. I have always said the larger-than-life, colorful wrestling characters seem perfect for art.
Rob's first wrestling painting was of Harley Race, but he has done hundreds more since then. One of his latest is of Becky Lynch as seen below. 
As you can see from the Lynch painting, Rob's paintings are bright, bold and colorful, just like the wrestlers. I'd love to see what Rob could do with the Johngy character, but that is a bit out of my price range and probably not even possible due to other demands on Rob's time.
Rob is a great guy, too. He is willing to discuss painting, art, wrestling and pretty much anything with his fans. I'd like to see his paintings as 8x10 photos to get signed, but that is up to the WWE.
Check out Rob and his creations at RobSchamberger.com. Also, follow Rob at the Art of Rob Schambereger on Facebook for more frequent updates and peaks at his work.
Rob Schamberger and me in Chicago, IL-March 2019.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Erika Piancastelli Loves Johngy's Beat

Erika Pincastelli was a star softball player at McNeese State University. She is one of nine NCAA Division I softball hitters to finish her career with a.400 batting average, 200 RBI, 50 home runs and an .800% slugging career.

Born in Modena, Italy, Erika's family moved to California when she was five. She was a four time SLC Player and Hitter of the Year at McNeese State. Erika finished fourth in points in the first season of playing with Athletes Unlimited. She batted .327 with 9 HRs and 15 RBIs. Her 9 HRs tied her for the AU season lead. Erika has also played for the Italian National Team since 2016 and is aiming for Gold in the 2021 Olympics.

I appreciate Erika's comments and also her time and consideration during press sessions with Athletes Unlimited. Go to Olympics.org and AUProSports.com for more info on Erika, her teams and her softball journey.

On the Beat With Sassy Stephie of Talkin' Sass

I first met pro wrestler Sassy Stephie at Resistance Pro Wrestling in November 2011. I was new to the indy wrestling scene, but Stephie was already a veteran of about four years. I quickly became a fan. I interviewed Stephie a few times for RPro and always enjoyed those interactions.

It's been several years since I talked to Stephie, although I have followed her career ever since and we have communicated on social media a few times. Stephie has certainly kept busy over the years, including starting Talkin' Sass, her new podcast, which is why I reached out to her about an interview for Global Women's Sports Radio.

Already a fan of pro wrestling, Stephie's actual entrance as a performer is an interesting tale. She was working as a DJ at a bowling alley, when she was asked to substitute for a ring announcer for a local wrestling promotion. She soon started training and made her debut in 2007.

Over the years, in addition to RPro, Stephie has wrestled for Shimmer, Women Superstars Uncensored, Ring of Honor and other promotions. She won titles on several occasions, as a singles wrestler and as part of a tag team. She also made the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Female 50 list a few times. We talk about all of that in our interview.

We also discuss her fandom of the Cleveland Browns. In one of our earlier interviews, we commiserated about the woeful state of her Browns and my Chicago Bears. This season, she had plenty of enjoyment as the Browns had a great season. Stephie is no fair-weather, bandwagon-jumper fan either. She goes back to cheering for Bernie Kosar's teams in her youth.

As much fun as all that talk was, we moved on to Talkin' Sass, the main reason for the interview. Previous to the podcast, Stephie ventured into other areas of entertainment outside of wrestling several times, including a stint hosting on the Fireball Run television series. With that background and her natural charisma, a podcast is the perfect vehicle for Stephie.

Although she admits wrestling is her niche, the podcast isn't all about wrestling. For Halloween, actor and producer Brian O'Halloran joined Stephie for a fun-filled episode. Other episodes featured Jimmy Kordaris, Ricardo Rodriguez, Lufisto and several other interesting folks from the world of wrestling. She also had “Hardcore” Heather Owens, another RPro alum. She has had an interesting mix of guests, who haven't been overexposed on other podcasts. 

As I told her in the interview, I already was a loyal listener before even asking for the interview. It's a lot of fun, whether you are a wrestling fan or not. Although I looked forward to each episode, I also made sure to subscribe to her channel on YouTube to make sure I didn't miss any.

While Talkin' Sass is still relatively new to the podcast scene, it is quickly growing in popularity. Stephie shared the names of a few future guests, as well as a couple on her “wish list.” Bernie Kosar, if you're reading this, you need to join Stephie on Talkin' Sass!

It was great catching up with Stephie. I very much appreciate her time and consideration. I encourage everyone to check out Talkin' Sass.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Friend Encounters: Victoria Draper and Jonathan Cimaglio

Friend Encounters is a weekly series featuring friends who have met celebrities.

I met Jonathan Cimaglio at a Chicago Bandits game a few years back, when he was getting pictures and autographs with the players. I learned he is quite a "grapher," as he puts it. He literally has thousands of autographs from athletes and celebrities of all sorts.
Cimags takes it to an pro level. He has the techniques down and gets the big names. He has a YouTube channel featuring videos documenting some of his chases, as well as his Pokemon pursuits.
Victoria Draper was a softball star at Auburn Universoty. She played in the NPF with the Cleveland Comets, which is how Cimags met her. She went on to become a coach for the National Team of China.
Meeting Draper was one of his easiest successes. She was appearing at a pre-game tailgate during the NPF playoffs a few years back. I might have even taken this picture. Cimags and I have helped each other many times in our attempts to get pictures.
Check out Cimags on YouTube to see all of his video uploads. You can also follow Victoria Draper on Instagram.
Jonathan Cimaglio and Victoria Draper in Rosemont, IL-August 2018.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Celebrity Jersey Cards #518 Noelle Foley & Amazing Samantha

Celebrity Jersey Cards is a weekly series in which I create virtual trading cards fo celebrities wearing sports jerseys. Today, I am featuring two teams bounced from the NFL playoffs last week.

As the daughter of th legendary Mick Foley, Noelle Foley grew up in the world of pro wrestling. She is still hovering around that world, although an injury sidelined her wrestling career. Noelle comes to her Los Angeles Rams fandom through her boyfriend Frank (aka Frank the Clown). For her Celebrity Jersey Card, Noelle Foley donned Jared Goff's #16 jersey. Noelle almost makes me want to root for the Rams.

The Amazing Samantha is a professional wrestler. Samantha has been ranked in PWIs Top 100 Female wrestlers, reaching a peak of #56 in 2019. Samantha wore Baker Mayfield's #6 jersey for a selfie to earn her Celebrity Jersey Card. All I can say is "Amaqzing."

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Mascot Week: The Chicken

This is Mascot Week.  All week, I featured some of my favorite fuzzy creatures. Today I finish with one of the all time greats.

Who better to start Mascot Week than the San Diego Chicken, perhaps the most famous of all mascots. Originally featured in an animated television commercial, the San Diego Chicken came to life when Ted Giannoulas was hired to wear the first chicken suit in 1974. the 20 year old journalism major made the most of this opportunity.
A baseball fan, Giannoulas talked the San Diego Padres into allowing him to perform at games. First, he passed out eggs containing prizes to fans in the stands, but eventually worked his way onto the field with his various skits.
In 1979, a dispute between Giannoulas and the Padres led to his firing and replacement. Things went much better for Giannoulas than the replacement Chicken, who was roundly booed at every game.
Renamed the Famous Chicken or simply the Chicken, Giannoulas went on to perform all over the world. After an estimated more than 5,000 performances, the Chicken is still ruling the roost. A few years ago at the National Sports Collectors Convention, the Chicken was one of the most popular attractions. At a show featuring many Hall of Fame athletes and thousands of collectibles, that's qute an accomplishment.
I could not get an interview with the Chicken or Giannoulas, but I made sure I got my picture with the famous bird. As a fan of mascots, this was about as cool as it gets.
Go to FamousChicken.com for more info on this crazy bird. I guarantee, you will not be in a foul mood, because the site does not lay an egg.
The Chicken and me in Rosemont, IL-August 2017.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Mascot Week: Sky Guy of the Chicago Sky

This is Mascot Week. All week I am featuring encounters with my favorite mascots.

Sky Guy was introduced in a ceremony at the Lincoln Park Zoo. His real first name is Guy, but "Sky" was added when he became a fan of the Chicago Sky. Sky Guy has five older sisters and spent a lot of his childhood playing basketball with them. Sky Guy invented his jet pack as a way to travel in search of the best of women's basketball.
I have met Sky Guy several times at various events. This picture was when Sky Guy appeared at a Chicago bandits game to help celebrate the birthday of Swiper, the Bandits mascot. It was a major mascot invasion at the Ballpark in Rosemont and I loved it.
Sky Guy and me in Rosemont, IL-July 2016.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Mascot Week: Rusty of the Gary RailCats

This is Mascot Week.  All week. I am featuring some of my favorite fuzzy creatures.

Rusty the RailCat debuted for the Gary RailCats in 2002. His backstory reveals he grew up near the tracks in Gary and fell in love with baseball, catnip and hot dogs.
For his first 15 years of existence, Rusty had a big tummy (aided by a lot of padding inside the suit). During the 2017 season, the organization decided the Rusty needed a new costume. At the same time, health insurance provider Anthem signed on as Rusty's sponsor. It only made sense to give Rusty a new trimmed-down look.
The new costume was no longer all fur, like the previous one. Instead, fur was replaced by mesh under the jersey. This made the costume cooler under the sun, and also allowed Rusty to model special jerseys and shirts. It was the perfect marriage of form meets function.
Rusty makes appearances away from the ballpark, too, but you'll never see a duplicate Rusty. There is only one Rusty appearance at any given time.
I had the pleasure of meeting Rusty at a Chicago Bandits game. Rusty and several other fuzzy friends were there to celebrate Bandits mascot Swiper's birthday.
Rusty and me in Rosemont, IL-July 2017.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Mascot Week: DIBS of DePaul Blue Demons

This is Mascot Week.  All week. I am featuring some of my favorite fuzzy creatures.

DePaul's mascot causes me angst. Back during my days on campus, I think the mascot was named Barney.  At some point in the last few years, the mascot got a makeover.  The thought was to make him appear edgier, perhaps even fiercer.  The result was DIBS.
DIBS actually stands for Demon in a blue suit.  I'm not really sold on that acronym.  Doesn't stating that it is a blue suit take away from the mascotness of the whole thing?  I know, we all know it is someone in a suit, but why announce that?  Also, isn't that a bit clunky when explaining it to kids, who are probably the biggest fans of the mascot?
It just seems unnecessarily complicated in an attempt to be clever.  I give that part a giant fail.
I do like the look of DIBS though.  It is a darker blue than the previous mascot.  The face is less goofy, if there is such a comparative among mascots.
The questions becomes, does a bad name take away from a great mascot? Ultimately, I will always side with the mascot. I guess I can give DIBS a pass. I will take my own advice and simply enjoy the mascot for all his furry, goofiness.
Dibs and me in Chicago, IL-March 2019.