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THE FADEAWAY 16 - Dana Howard

The FadeAway with Deon Thomas and Eric Schmidt - Episode 16 Dana Howard, 2018 HOF Inductee - College Football & Fighting Illini, 1994 Butkus Award Winner As the Dean of “Linebacker U”, former Illini Dana Howard still holds the Big Ten record for tackles. Howard still has the swagger of the NFL player he became, and jumps on the FadeAway to talk about today’s Fighting Illini team, his thoughts on being inducted into two Halls of Fame this year and shares some stories about his time on campus....


THE FADEAWAY 15 - Leron Black

The FadeAway with Deon Thomas and Eric Schmidt - Episode 15 Leron Black, Fighting Illini Basketball 2017-18 All-Big Ten Leron Black lead the Fighting Illini basketball team in scoring during the 2017-18 season and was named Homorable Mention All-Big Ten (coaches and media). But this past spring, with a year of eligibility left but a degree already in hand, Leron made the decision to turn pro. Deon and Eric talk to Leron about how he came to that decision, what he’s looking forward to -- and...


Ep 52: Julia Millon & Jane Obringer (Northwestern & Learfield)

Painless Podcast episode 52: Julia Millon (Program Coordinator, Principal Gifts, Northwestern University) Jane Obringer (Manager, Partnership Solutions, Learfield) Meet Jane and Julia, two recent Northwestern Masters in Sports Administration students who give us a perspective on why they chose a sports-focused masters, how they chose Northwestern and how they juggle full-time jobs, classes, volunteering and other ways of giving back. This is conversation 4 of 4 from the Northwestern...


THE FADEAWAY 14 - Monica Abbott (USA Olympic Softball Player)

The FadeAway with Deon Thomas and Eric Schmidt - Episode 14 Monica Abbott, 2020 US Olympic Softball Team Arguably the most decorated softball player ever, Monica Abbott just added another accomplishment to her impressive resume. She and her Team USA teammates recently won a thrilling World Championship game against Japan, thus securing a spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It’s noteworthy because it marks the return of softball to the Olympics since the sport’s last appearance in 2008. Monica...


THE FADEAWAY Ep 8 - Steve Raquel, Chief Illiniwek & War Chant

The FadeAway with Deon Thomas and Eric Schmidt - Episode 8 Steve Raquel, President of the Council of Chiefs and 29th Chief Illiniwek (1993) For Fighting Illini fans, the “War Chant” music has been synonymous with Illinois athletics for nearly 40 years. As of August 2017, the University of Illinois announced the chant is no more. With this backdrop, we recently saw protests and unrest at the university, as the 2017 Homecoming Parade was interrupted by Chief protesters. Steve Raquel, the 29th...


Ep 34: Rob Cressy (Bacon Sports & Cress Media)

Painless Podcast episode 34: Rob Cressy (Founder, Bacon Sports & Cress Media) Get fired up with Rob Cressy with his story of leaving digital media sales to go all in on living and creating great sports content. To connect with Rob... • Web: or • Twitter or Facebook: @RobCressy @BaconSports @CressMedia and @InfieldChatter Please support our partners: +NCSA: A tech company with a sports mindset, NCSA has been recognized for its culture initiatives,...


THE FADEAWAY Ep 7 - Stephen Bardo(BTN / Point Guard Vision)

The FadeAway with Deon Thomas and Eric Schmidt - Episode 7 Stephen Bardo, Analyst, Big Ten Network / Founder, Point Guard Vision College basketball has uncertainty surrounding it, with the FBI indicting a handful of assistant coaches and a shoe executive. Plus, Louisville’s Rick Pitino has been placed on administrative leave, essentially ending his tenure as head coach. Current Big Ten Network analyst, and former Flyin’ Illini, Stephen Bardo joins Deon and Eric to discuss what’s next for the...


Ep 33: Jason Coyle (Stadium & 120 Sports)

Painless Podcast episode 33: Jason Coyle (CEO, Stadium / Co-founder, 120 Sports) To connect with Stadium... • On the web: • On broadcast television digital antenna in 50+ markets • On Twitter: • On the Stadium app, available in the App Store, as well as on Apple TV The full Teddy Roosevelt quote we talk about: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them...


THE FADEAWAY Ep 6 - Prof. Adrian Burgos (La Vida Baseball)

The FadeAway with Deon Thomas and Eric Schmidt - Episode 6 Adrian Burgos, Editor-in-Chief, La Vida Baseball As the MLB playoffs are about to heat up, many players of Latino descent are poised to make an impact on which teams make it to the World Series. Being in the midst of Hispanic Heritage Month, and with Puerto Rico on many of our minds due to Hurricane Maria, Deon and Eric get a chance to talk baseball with Professor Adrian Burgos, Jr. Professor Burgos is the Editor-in-Chief of La Vida...


Ep 32: *LIVE* Painless/WISE "Big Data & Sports Innovation" Panel Discussion

Painless Podcast episode 32: LIVE Big Data & Sports Innovation Panel with... Gabe Ottolini (CRO, Block Six Analytics) Nathan Frank (Data Scientist, STATS) Lotika Pai (Co-founder, POWWFUL) Dezeree Christman (VP of Digital, PCGSportsDesk) To connect further via web / Twitter: / @Block6Analytics / @STATS_insights / @POWWFUL / @PCGSportsDesk And find our co-host WISE Chicago at /...


THE FADEAWAY Ep 5 - Kendall Gill

The FadeAway with Deon Thomas and Eric Schmidt - Episode 5 All-TIme Illini Great, NBA Star, pro boxer and TV analyst Kendall Gill Kendall Gill is one of the all-time great Fighting Illini basketball players, and a 15-year NBA veteran. One of the stars of the ’89 Flyin’ Illini joins Deon and Eric to talk about his college time, playing with Nick Anderson, how he thought the Illini would have been in 1990 had Deon not redshirted. As a current NBA analyst for CSN Chicago, Kendall also shares...


Ep 31: Dave Zimmer & Steve Ginsburg (Fleet Feet Chicago & RAM Racing)

Dave Zimmer (Co-owner and CEO, Fleet Feet Sports Chicago) Steve Ginsburg (Owner and CEO, RAM Racing) Meet two of the most successful players in running and endurance sports, Dave Zimmer from Fleet Feet Sports Chicago ( and Steve Ginsburg from RAM Racing How did they build their respective businesses? And how exactly did these two competitors become friends and collaborators? The Hot Chocolate 5K/15K are two of the largest races of their...


Ep 30: Carey Pinkowski & Tim Hadzima (Chicago Marathon & WMM)

Painless Podcast episode 30: Carey Pinkowski (Executive Race Director, Bank of America Chicago Marathon) Tim Hadzima (General Manager, Abbott World Marathon Majors) The 40th Bank of America Chicago Marathon ( and @chimarathon) is just a few weeks away. Hear from race director Carey Pinkowski (@careyrunschi) on how they turn 26.2 miles of urban roadway into a world-class endurance event for 45,000 runners. Tim Hadzima (@timmyhad) from Abbott World Marathon Majors...


THE FADEAWAY Ep 4 - Coach Jimmy Collins

The FadeAway with Deon Thomas and Eric Schmidt - Episode 4 Former Illinois Assistant and UIC Head Basketball Coach Jimmy Collins Going back in Illini history, Deon and Eric sit down with Jimmy Collins, former Assistant Coach for the University of Illinois Fighting Illini. Coach Collins also made a name for himself in the Final Four as a star guard at New Mexico State, and is the University of Illinois at Chicago’s all-time leader in coaching wins. In this episode, Coach Collins tells us how...


Ep 29: Scott Paddock (Chicagoland Speedway)

Painless Podcast episode 29: Scott Paddock (President, Chicagoland Speedway) Hear from the head of Chicagoland Speedway as NASCAR is about invade town. Check out for track and event info. For opportunities to join their team scroll down to “Join Our Team” at the bottom of their homepage. PAINLESS/WISE SPORTS & TECH EVENT SEPT 20! Join us from 6-8p on Sept 20 at the new Brickhouse Tavern at Wrigley Field! Tickets selling fast here:...


Ep 28: Jeff Urban (Whistle Sports)

Painless Podcast episode 28: Jeff Urban (Co-founder & President, Whistle Sports) Hear from the co-founder of Whistle Sports, a global community with 400 of the world’s most engaging sports content creators that encompasses nearly 400 million aggregate subscribers, fans and followers with a growth rate of over 2 million a week. Check out for opportunities to join their team. This week’s sponsor: +Spikeball Nationals are October 14 at Chicago’s Cricket Hill in...


THE FADEAWAY Ep 3 - New Illini WBB Coach Nancy Fahey

The FadeAway with Deon Thomas and Eric Schmidt - Episode 3 Illinois Women’s Basketball Coach Nancy Fahey Deon and Eric visit with new University of Illinois women’s basketball coach Nancy Fahey. She joins the Illini after winning FIVE national championships at Division III Washington University in St. Louis, including four in a row (1998-1999-2000-2001-2010! A two-time WBCA Coach of the Year (2000, 2011), Nancy owns a 737-133 (.847) coaching record and was inducted into the Women’s...


Ep 27: Dan Ciccone & Ken Olsen (rEvXP)

Painless Podcast episode 27: Dan Ciccone & Ken Olsen (rEvXP) Focus is on eSports this week! Early on, we talk about an op-ed Dan penned pointing out eSports has been around a LOT longer than the last 18 months. Here’s a link to "eSports - Investing in ‘the wild, wild West?’" -- This week’s sponsor: +Spikeball Nationals are at Chicago’s Cricket Hill in Montrose Harbor on October 14. Sign up your team TODAY at...


Ep 26: David Ladd (STATS)

Painless Podcast episode 26: David Ladd (VP, STATS, LLC) Among key topics, we talk about STATS being in a big growth mode. Go to for all the details, including 27 openings at their new downtown Chicago HQ, at least six of those are sales roles on David’s team. We also talked about case studies and papers on SportVU and other data uses. Find all those here: This week’s sponsor: +Spikeball Nationals are at Chicago’s Cricket Hill in...


THE FADEAWAY Ep 2 - Lou Henson

The FadeAway with Deon Thomas and Eric Schmidt - Episode 2 Coach Lou Henson Deon and Eric visit with basketball coaching icon Lou Henson and his wife, Mary. We discuss some fun facts about Coach Henson, including his role in integrating Hardin-Simmons University, his thoughts on the 1989 Flyin' Illini, and the media reaction to his hiring at the University of Illinois in 1975. The FadeAway is hosted by Deon Thomas and Eric Schmidt. Deon currently does television studio work for the Big Ten...