Tuesday, October 19, 2021

On the Beat With Gianna Belcastro at Wizard World 2021

Gianna Belcastro and her Women's Sports Matter podcast have been on my radar for a while now. I wanted to talk to Gianna about her projects and this weekend at Wizard World, I had the perfect opportunity to do just that.

Early Saturday morning, 19-year old Gianna seated herself on the Main Stage at Wizard World and proceeded to talk, inform and entertain the crowd for 45 minutes. Calm and poised, Gianna said she was nervous, but it didn't show as she seamlessly wove personal stories into women's sports talk. Gianna discussed Athletes Unlimited, the WNBA and other women's sports.

I was totally interested for the entirety of her live podcast, but an even bigger testimony could be found in Joey Roth, who joined me for interviews at Wizard World. More of a novice when it comes to women's sports, Joey was full of praise for Gianna. Joey even stated he would spread the word on Women's Sports Matter to his 14-year old daughter. Just like that, Gianna gained two more fans, along with several others attending her live podcast.

After the podcast, Gianna was kind enough to give us several minutes of her time to do an introductory interview with her. Joey asked Gianna about her start, her passions, women's sports gaining popularity and more.

Joey called Gianna "The future face of women's sports" and that is an apt title. At 19, she is already entrenching herself in the world of women's sports and gaining a following. She has gotten some big names on her podcast already. Volleyball star Jordan Larson doesn't give interviews to just anyone. Yet, Gianna got her and several others, because she knows her stuff.

Much like I keep stating the WNBA needs to develop more ex-players into coaches, women's sports needs young, bright women like Gianna as part of the media. I cover a lot of women's sports and I spread the word to anyone who will listen, but a media person like Gianna is a great role model for young women athletes and journalists.

Gianna is still early in her journey. Life can take odd turns. Who knows where life will lead Gianna? Her future is bright and I hope it is in women's sports media. Gianna can go far in the media. Women's sports and all of its fans will benefit!

Thank you to the fine folks at Wizard World for granting me access. Thanks to Joey for contributing to this interview. Finally and most important, thanks to Gianna for her time and for all she does for women's sports. Look for the Women's Sports Matter podcast on most major podcast platforms.

Our interview can be found at On the Beat With Gianna Belcastro at Wizard World 2021. Give it a listen, then go to the Women's Sports Matter podcast and binge-listen!

Monday, October 18, 2021

Friendly Encounters: Jim Zorn and Tony Feddeler

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

With football season upon us, there is no better time to feature my buddy Tony Feddeler with one of his favorite players on his favorite team. Tony is wearing Jim Zorn's #10, but really Tony should be wearing an offensive lineman's number. I bet Big T would have made a solid tackle. Zorn's Seahawks teams could have used some help on the offensive line.
Some day, I have to ask Tony why he loves the Seahawks. I sit a random liking or is there some real connection?
Zorn had a solid NFL career. He started as an undrafted free agent with the Dallas Cowboys in 1975, but was the last cut. He signed with the Seahawks in 1976 and played there for nine seasons. He spent on season with the Green Bay Packers in 1985 and the CFL's Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1986. In 1987, he played one game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the NFL players' strike. He went on to coach for a few teams.
I always liked Zorn. Zorn to Steve Largent was magic. Unfortunately, the Seahawks back then had little else. On a better team, Zorn might have been one of the best of his time.
As for Tony, he is one of the best in any time. He's a softball, wrestling and convention bud. After the long pandemic, we finally got to reconnect at the Squared Circle Expo in May. It was great seeing him and I look forward to more of our usual good times in the future. Also, I will definitely get to the bottom of his love for the Seahawks.
Jim Zorn and Tony Feddeler in Rosemont, IL-March 2018.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Celebrity Jersey Cards #559 Ally Carda & Kelly Kretschman

Celebrity Jersey Cards is a weekly series in which I create virtual trading cards for celebrities wearing sports jerseys. Today, the New York Yankees end our season-long alphabetical journey through all Major League Baseball teams. We wrap up our MLB run with a couple (literally) of Yankees. These two class acts almost make me want to like the Yankees.

Playing first base and pitching, Ally Carda was one of the best two way players ever for UCLA, winning consecutive Conference Player of the Year honors. She won a silver medal in the recent Olympics and also played in National Pro Fastpitch and Athletes Unlimited.

Kelly Kretschman was a four-time All-American at Alabama, a two-time medal winning Olympian and one of the greatest National Pro Fastpitch players ever. Kretschman has done some coaching on the college level and also was a facilitator in Athletes Unlimited this season. 

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Gavin Smith at Wizard World St. Louis 2017

It's Wizard World weekend!! I have been looking forward to seeing all of the celebrities and my creator friends. Gavin Smith is one of the many awesome artists I have met at Wizard World.
Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, Gavin is a freelance artist. He has worked on The Accelerators for Blue Juice Comics, Ghost in the Shell for Kodansha/Penguin Random House, motion comics for AT&T, a horror adaptation of Pop Goes the Weasel for Line Webtoon and much more. He also does commissions.
One of my favorite pieces of his is his Captain America. At cons, you see a lot of superhero stuff, but it is usually the big three of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. It was cool to see a Captain America and his was just awesome. I would love to see what he could do with old school Aquaman.
Follow Gavin and see his cool art at @GavinPSmith on twitter. Go to WizardWorld.com for more info and scheduling. Check back here for my recurring coverage.
Gavin Smith and me in St. Louis, MO-April 2017.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Nina Mercedez at Wizard World 2013

Wizard World Chicago starts today! I'll be "On the Beat" early and all weekend meeting celebrities, getting interviews and having fun. I did all three with Nina Mercedez a few years back.
Nina is an actress, model, hostess, producer and more, including a cosplayer. A former Miss Nude Universe, Nina drew attention this time for her awesome Wonder Woman costume, which was the focus of my interview with her. That interview can be found at On the Beat With Nina Mercedez.
Cosplay has become such a big part of Wizard World. When I started covering Wizard World, many fans would dress as their favorite characters or people, but now it is actually part of the event, with contests and its own section. Nina fit right in (or actually Nina really stood out). It was interesting to see one of the celebrity guests get into the cosplay scene and it also shows just how much it has grown.
I am always on the lookout for Aquaman cosplayers. Since the movie of a few years ago, I have seen more than previously, but I still prefer old school Aquaman. We'll see what this year brings.
Also, check WizardWorld.com for news on the revised schedule.  You don't want to miss any comic con fun.
Nina Mercedez and me in Rosemont, IL-August 2013.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Thomas Ian Nicholas at Wizard World Chicago 2017

Wizard World returns to Chicago this weekend!.Of course, I'll be back "On the Beat" meeting and interviewing celebrities and creators. One of my favorites is actor-musician Thomas Ian Nicholas.
Nicholas starred in Rookie of the Year, a role which forever endeared him to fans of the Chicago Cubs. Nicholas is also a big baseball fan, which must have made making the movie as a kid extra fun. Nicholas has made many appearances at Wrigley Field, tossing the first pitch,singing during the seventh inning stretch and joining the broadcast.
He definitely was one of the best singers to copy Harry Caray, but that's not a shock considering he has his own band. The TIN band has performed all over and is quite good.
I had the pleasure of interviewing about all of this at Wizard World a few years back. That interview can be found at On the Beat With Thomas Ian Nicholas.
Go to WizardWorld.com for news and schedules for events all year. Check here for my recurring coverage.
Jason Fleigel, Thomas Ian Nicholas and me in Rosemont, IL-August 2017.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

On the Beat With Michael Kingston of Headlocked at New York Comic Con 2021

One of my favorite booths as the recent New York Comic Con was Michael Kingston;s Headlocked booth. It was great catching up with Michael, seeing his newest books and meeting all of the wrestlers at his booth.

Headlocked is Michael's comic series about pro wrestling. A while back, Michael wanted to see a realistic wrestling comic. In the absence of any others like that, Michael created one and has been a very busy and successful man since then.

The wrestling community has embraced Headlocked. Many wrestling stars have contributed to Headlocked over the years, including Jerry "The King" Lawler who has done cover art.

Despite being very busy at his booth, I managed to get Michael for a quick update. He told me of a few of his projects, including one with a Kickstarter campaign starting very soon. That's a chance to support Michael and get some cool swag in the process. Our update interview can be found at On the Beat With Michael Kingston of Headlocked at New York Comic Con 2021.

Michael is a great guy. He's one of the hardest-working folks I know, but he always has time for a little chat. It's awesome to see good things happen for him and I am certain more good things will keep coming to him.

For more info on Michael and his work, go to HeadlockedComic.com. Also, check NewYorkComicCon.com for updates and news. I am already looking forward to NYCC 2022!

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

On the Beat With Sara Richard at New York City Comic Con 2021

I just returned from a fantastic time at the New York City Comic Con. It was my first time at NYCC, but it won't be my last.
Artist Lady Sara Richard is one of the first creators I ever interviewed at a comic con. I have been bugging Sara for about a decade now. 
Of course, at NYCC, I had to get an update interview with Lady Sara. She has a lot going on as always. One of her recent projects is The Dead Hand Book: Stories From Gravesend Cemetery. Sara also did illustrations for Greek Mythology: The Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes Handbook. Of course, those are just two of the many works she has done. She has a lot more in the works, too. Although I couldn't get scoops yet, I will report on her projects as she reveals them.
In our interview, we covered those two books and her work on cleaning grave stones, another fascinating part of Sara's life. Our interview can be found at On the Beat With Sara Richard at New York City Comic Con 2021.
By the way, Sara earned the "Lady" title by owning small plots conservation land in Aberdeenshire and Glencoe, Scotland, places she says "inspires her art and where her mind wanders."
I am a big fan of Sara's work and I am proud to call her a friend. She is so talented and such a fun person. Follow her online to see all of her adventures. It's definitely entertaining.
Go to SaraRichard.com for more info on Sara and her art. Also, check NewYorkComicCon.com for news and updates. I am already looking forward to NYCC 2022.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Friend Encounters: Blue World Order and John Dean at Wizard World 2011

Friend Encounters is a weekly series about friends meeting celebrities.

With Wizard World returning to Chicago this weekend, this is a great time to feature a Friend Encounter from one of their events. I'll be there again and I hope to see today's friend John Dean there, too!
I have known John for many years. A fellow wrestling fan, John has met many great wrestlers over the years.
In 2011, before I knew John, he met the Blue World Order (Stevie Richards, Brian Heffron and Mike Bucci) at Wizard World. I might have crossed paths with John there, because I spent a lot of time at the booth talking to them about wrestling and getting individual interviews. They were all fantastic at that event. I have since seen John at many events, including Squared Circle Expo earlier this year.
Recently, John took his love of wrestling to a new level and invited anyone to join the fun. John started a Wrestling Photo Ops & Action Shots on Facebook, a fun group where folks can share all of their wrestling pictures.
The group has grown to 250 members. It is a private group, which keeps it among fans who want to see other fun pictures, while sharing their own. There is none of the usual FB drama and the wrestlers pictured cover decades of greatness, not just recdent wrestling stars.
Go to Wrestling Photo Ops & Action Shots on Facebook to join the fun. You'll see a bunch of John's pics, as well as many of mine and others. Also, check WizardWorld.com for info and scheduling.
 Stevie Richards, John Dean, Brian Heffron and Mike Bucci in Rosemont, IL-August 2011.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Celebrity Jersey Cards #558 Diamond DeShields & Katie Lou Samuelson

Celebrity Jersey Cards is a weekly series in which I create virtual trading cards of celebrities wearing sports jerseys. Today, the Sky is the limit as we are nearing the end of our alphabetical journey through all MLB teams.

The daughter of former MLB player Delino DeShields, Diamond DeShields is a second generation cross-sports athlete. With brother Delino Jr., she is also part of a cross-sports sibling pair. After a successful collegiate basketball career at North Carolina and Tennessee, Diamond was selected by the Chicago Sky in the 2017 WNBA Draft. In three seasons with the Sky,she has averaged 13.9 points per game. Diamond took to the field at a CChicago White Sox game when her brother was in town playing with the Rangers. I'm pretty sure this is the first brother-sister athlete combo on a Celebrity Jersey Card.

Fellow WNBA star Katie Lou Samuelson played collegiately at UConn. She was selected by the Chicago Sky in the 2019 WNBA Draft. After one season with the Sky, she was traded to the Dallas Wings. In her two seasons, she has averaged 3.8 points per game. Her sister Karlie played in the WNBA with the Los Angeles Sparks and Dallas Wings. Like her former teammate DeShields, Samuelson earned her Celebrity Jersey Card on the field at a White Sox game.