The team has no grandmaster, no local coach, little funding to speak of and no formal recruitment. Yet the U of I team has made it to the Final Four of competitive chess in the U.S. for the second consecutive year.
In late December, the University of Illinois chess team qualified for the Final Four for the second consecutive year. U of I junior Michael Auger is a big part of the reason why and is one of 4 team members who will be going to the tournament in April. Auger recruited Eric Rosen, the most accomplished and highest-ranked member of the team, away from top chess schools, like te University of Texas-Dallas, Texas Tech and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.
This hour on Focus, host Jeff Bossert talks with Auger about the team’s success and where he thinks they're headed next. We’ll also hear from Al Lawrence who is the director of Texas Tech’s chess program and former executive director of the United States Chess Federation, the largest chess governing body in the United States. He'll tell us more about the world of collegiate chess is like across the country, and gives us a better sense of what the U of I chess team is up against in April.
During this hour, we want to know from you how chess plays a role in your life. Did you grow up playing it? What do you like about it? We're on Twitter during the show @Focus580.
This hour on Focus, we’ll hear from five-time Olympic gold medalist Bonnie Blair, who is representing the U.S. as a delegate this winter in Sochi, Russia and other central Illinois Olympic skaters.
Winter Olympians from central Illinois have something in common; nearly all of them have competed in the Games wearing ice skates. This hour on Focus, we’ll hear from three of them. First, Scott Cameron talks with Bonnie Blair about representing the U.S. in Sochi and about how Jonathan Kuck of Champaign, who is skating three speed skating events, is expected to compete. Then, Jeff Bossert talks with speed skater Katherine Reutter and figure skater Matt Savoie.
Northwestern football players want to unionize, could they be able to?
Football players at Northwestern University in Evanton, Ill., led by senior quarterback Kain Colter, are petitioning the National Labor Relations Board to form a union. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Ramogi Huma, President of the College Athletes Players Association, which is representing the players, about what they’re asking for. According to Huma, the players are far more interested in stricter rules from the NCAA protecting them from concussions and extended scholarships, not money.
Then, Northwestern University Labor Law Professor Zev Eigen join us. He says it’s unlikely the players’ union will gain recognition from the National Labor Relations Board but that forming a union isn’t the only avenue to get what they’re asking for.
During this half hour on Focus, former major league baseball pitcher Jamie Moyer tells Jeff Bossert about his new book, “Just Tell Me I Can’t.”
Jamie Moyer made his major league debut with the Chicago Cubs when Ronald Reagan was President, and after a close to career ending elbow injury, became oldest pitcher in MLB history to win a game at the age of 49 four years ago. During this segment on Focus, Moyer tells Jeff Bossert about why he returned to the game. He also tells Bossert about his relationship with his late mentor and friend Harvey Dorfman.
There’s no question the game of baseball has changed substantially over the course of the 20th century. This hour on Focus, Jeff Bossert talks with Daniel Gilbert about his new book that explores the way the labor history of the MLB has shaped the game.
Over the course of the last few decades, Major League Baseball salaries have increased substantially, and sought after players have much more bargaining power today than they did a generation ago. During this hour on Focus, host Jeff Bossert talks with Daniel Gilbert about his new book Expanding the Strike Zone: Baseball in the Age of Free Agency. We’ll examine baseball’s growing global influence and how the labor struggles within professional resonate throughout our society.
Gilbert is an Assistant Professor of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is also a Red Sox fan. Don’t hold that against him.
This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Eastern Illinois Head Football Coach Dino Babers about in-state football rivalries and EIU’s success so far this season. Then, we’ll hear from Sheldon Turner who works with youth in Champaign.
Almost 25 years ago, Eastern Illinois Head Football Coach Dino Babers got his start coaching as a running backs coach at EIU. More than two decades later, he’s back as head coach and looks like he’s on track to lead the Panthers to their second run at the FCS Bowl playoffs in two years. For the first half of this hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Babers about his approach to coaching, the pressure placed on student athletes and his strategy as the team approaches the back half of their schedule for this season.
Then, in the second half of this hour on Focus, Meadows talks with Sheldon Turner. Turner grew up on the East side of St. Louis and says if he wouldn’t have had the mentors he did, he wouldn’t be where he is today. We’ll hear from Turner about Champaign School Districts “Operation Hope” program and about why Turner thinks athletics are so important to character building. Turner was recently named "man of the year" by Central Illinois Busniess.
This hour, we hear from University of Illinois wheelchair athlete Tatyana McFadden about her Chicago Marathon win this past weekend. Jim Meadows also talks with IntelliWheels’ Marissa Siebel and Josh George, who took third place in the men’s wheelchair division of the Chicago Marathon, about their Champaign based company that makes geared wheelchair wheels.
Sunday, Tatyana McFadden won the Chicago Marathon breaking a course record and becoming the first wheelchair athlete to win three major marathons in a year. In less than three weeks, McFadden will compete for a fourth title at the ING New York City Marathon. During this hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Tatyana about why she’s fond of marathons, how she’s preparing for her upcoming race in New York and where she keeps her race medals. McFadden was born in Russia and spent the first 6 years of her life walking on her hands in an orphanage. During this interview, we also hear from her about how that has contributed to the upper-body strength vital to her racing success.
Then in the second half of the program, Meadows talks with IntelliWheels’ Marissa Siebel and Josh George about mobility and innovation. Currently, the company makes geared wheelchair wheels that make it easier for people with less upper body strength to get around, but recently they have been working on prototypes for more active users. George, who took third place this past weekend in the men’s wheelchair division of the Chicago Marathon, is an athlete in residence for IntelliWheels and will test them when they’re ready.
The problems concussions can cause athletes long term is a hot button issue right now in the world of professional sports… but what are high schools doing to keep their athletes safe?
The long term effects of multiple concussions in NFL football players has been increasingly reported by the media, especially after a $765 million settlement between the NFL and its former players this summer. But concussions have serious risks at all level of play.
This hour on Focus, we’ll listen back to an interview with former Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Doug Glanville.
Doug Glanville, former major league baseball player, was the first Ivy League educated player to play in the MLB, and authored the book “Inside Baseball: The Game From Where I Stand” to shed light on some of challenges unique to playing professional baseball. This hour on Focus, we’ll listen back to a conversation Jeff Bossert had with him in 2011.
What comes to mind when you hear the word “circus?” Probably not a college campus… During this hour on Focus, Lindsey Moon talks with Marcus Alouan of Gamma Phi Circus at Illinois State University about collegiate circus and circus summer camps.
Early in the 20th century, acrobats, specifically trapeze artists, would winter in Bloomington-Normal to practice in empty mills and empty buildings with high ceilings. This hour on Focus, Lindsey Moon talks with Marcus Alouan, director of the Gamma Phi Circus at Illinois State University, about how those performers sparked a circus movement in Bloomington-Normal. We’ll learn more about Gamma Phi Circus, one of the oldest and one of the only collegiate circuses in the country and will hear about the circus camps the university sponsors to keep the circus tradition alive.
Then during the second part of the hour, we’ll listen back to a conversation Lindsey had with Duncan Wall. With no prior circus, dance or tumbling experience, Wall spent a year studying circus in Paris, France on a Fullbright scholarship and wrote a book about the experience and circus history called “The Ordinary Acrobat: A Journey Into the Wondrous World of the Circus Past and Present.”
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