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The Underdog Podcast

Author: Kyle Decker & Calvin Blackmon

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Underdog (n): A competitor thought to have little chance of winning a fight or contest. The goal of this podcast is for us to share stories of failure & triumph through thoughtful & engaging conversation.

Everyone has an underdog story and we want to hear yours.
46 Episodes
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After blowing out his knee the last game of his senior year, Ryan Kelly didn’t know what the future had in store.  Two things he did know was that resilience and character would see him through!  Having the foresight to maximize his opportunity, Ryan is now one of the youngest and greatest leaders in his profession.  Football fan or not – you’ll love this episode!   Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
In 1972 a little boy was born and immediately put up for adoption. This week’s guest might have the most dramatic and heartwarming story we or anyone else has ever had the pleasure of sharing. Our guest, Deland McCullough was adopted and raised in Youngstown, OH.  Football wasn’t just a thing to Deland, it was the thing that allowed him to escape all hardships he was facing. In true underdog fashion, Deland wasn’t the star athlete from the beginning. He worked hard and had passion. Heck, he even enrolled in the Navy because he wanted out of Youngstown so badly. His break came when he was recruited by Miami University, more specifically, Sherman Smith (remember that name, it will hold great importance later).  Deland continued to be the underdog fighting hard to earn his position which ultimately leads to a record-breaking career for him at Miami.   He met adversity yet again when he went undrafted in 1996. He joined the Cincinnati Bengals and in true Deland spirit was fighting for his position until an unfortunate knee injury resulted in several surgeries. He recovered and joined the Philadelphia Eagles, but never saw any regular season playing time. He made his last attempt in the Canadian league with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers before retiring as a player. He had no idea who his father was when he started his coaching career in 2000, but always stayed in touch with his mentor, Sherman Smith. He finally reconnected with his biological mother in 2017, only to find out that his father was his mentor, Sherman Smith. Yes, the same Sherman Smith who recruited him out of Youngstown, OH. Can you imagine his disbelief?  Now a very humble running backs coach for the Kansas City Chief’s, he leads with control and confidence. He is very invested in the people that make up his teams. Success comes in many forms, but for the NFL the crowning achievement is the Superbowl Championship, which Deland can name proudly add to his resume.  He is also a proud husband and father of four young men; One of which is following in his footsteps and making his way at Miami University. We are so grateful for the opportunity to share this story with you, Underdog Nation!   Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
Our guest this week is former GM of both the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals. Currently, Jim Bowden is an MLB Analyst and Insider for CBS Sports HQ, writer for The Athletic, Talk Show Host for SiriusXM’s MLB Radio, and Fantasy Alarm.   Born and raised in Massachusetts, Jim shares how his love of sports and a little bit of luck landed his first job with the Pittsburgh Pirates.    In his words, “getting rid of my mouth and getting a third ear” is what led to his success. Early in his career, he was challenged with tasks outside his skill set or knowledge base, but he figured it out by asking questions with an authentic desire to learn. The hours, days, weeks, even years that lead to his first go-round as GM was spent doing just that, learning.   Jim has been able to sustain his success because he is always preparing for plan B. He was one of these first GMs to leave baseball and switch to the broadcasting side of the sport offering fans a unique perspective on the game.   He even dishes on a few very unique family traditions he and his sons have completed every year for the last couple of decades.   Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
Our guest this week, Joe Oliver needs no introduction to all of our baseball fans and of course Reds nation! Joe had one of the most pivotal at-bats in the Cincinnati Reds history, clinching Game 2 of the World Series ultimately leading to the 1990 World Series victory! Joe caught over 12,000 documented innings between the major and minor leagues, not to mention all of the countless practices and pull pen sessions. After his 19-year career, Joe took 13 years off to raise his children and be a family man. Joe talks about everything from the culture of the 1990’s Red’s team to coaching and his professional future. Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
Our guest this week is Merril Hoge. Some may know him for his time in the NFL as a running back for both the Pittsburgh Stealers and the Chicago Bears. Or for his 20+ year career as an ESPN announcer, but we’ve come to know him as our daily inspiration. If you follow him on social media, you will understand. He spent almost 8 years in the NFL before his career came to a screeching halt. Improper care of a head injury forced him into retirement. Although his love for the game continued as an on-air analyst for ESPN, his life was forever changed. Now he uses his platform to inspire others through times of adversity including another difficult time in his life, kicking cancers ass. We are sure this episode will inspire you to take advantage of the life you should be living.   Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
For those of you who don’t know him, we promise you won’t be disappointed! Gary Owen’s life has provided him with a ton of content to say the least. His comedic approach to overcoming adversity is something we should all lean on right now! Growing up in a trailer park in Cincinnati, OH, he joined the US Navy after graduation and served as a Master-At-Arms before starting his career as a comedian. He speaks openly about his family affairs and the many struggles he has had to overcome throughout his life. Gary was named “Funniest Serviceman in America” after only one year of doing stand-up and won a contest to be named “Funniest Black Comedian in San Diego.” He has made appearances in several films, had a show on BET, The Gary Owen Show, and released several comedy specials namely his latest #DoinWhatIDo released in 2019. Take a break and laugh with us a little. You deserve it! Follow Gary on Social Media: Instagram: @garyowencomedy Twitter: @garyowencomedy Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast  
Our guest this week is head football coach, Chuck Martin.  With the odds stacked against him, Coach Martin left a success team at Norte Dame to take over an 0-12 Miami University program in 2014. Coach speaks to his decision informing host, Kyle Decker and Calvin Blackmon (both former Miami Redhawks football alum) that there is a fine line between courageousness and foolishness. Although financially he took a hit, three things that went into his decision: Miami’s tradition – the Cradle of Coaches & the opportunity to turn around one of proudest programs in the country His drive to be a head coach again His family – Oxford really suited his family When he started preparation for his first season it was the hurtles off the field that were most apparent. No one was talking to each other. He spent the first 1-2 years working on structure with weekly meetings and coming together on a central goal. Coach Martin himself was a two-sport athlete and admits that he played because he loved the game and looks for that same passion in his coaching staff and new recruits. When it comes to adversity, he embraced the unpredictable pandemic by challenging his coaches to figure out how to support the athletes. He encouraged his coaches get creative with Zoom meetings. Focusing on safe workouts at home and community service. They started a reading program and pushed the team to get out of their comfort zone by connecting with those in isolation at a local retirement community. He also jumped right into recruiting.   The 4 things Coach Martin looks for in a recruit: Find kids that want to play Love for the game - You don’t always win Interest in getting a Miami education Lastly, a desire to be coached We think these four points go beyond the gridiron. Thank you, Coach Martin! Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
Our guest this week is Megan Duffy head coach for Marquette University women’s basketball team. She reminisces about high school days with our host, Calvin (they both attended Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School in Dayton, OH). Her love for the game started young. Her high school coach put her in situations regularly where she wouldn’t always be able to find success allowing her to grow her leadership skills and develop her grit. Her senior year her team was number one in the nation and she tore her ACL. This devastating injury opened her eyes to the mental side of the game.  She ultimately went on to play college ball at Notre Dame and continued to work hard at not only her skill but her leadership.  She was recently named Big East Coach of the Year. She is now coaching young women on and off the court on how to leave their MARQ.   Apologies for the sound quality issue. We had a failure with our main recording and had to resort to the zoom recording audio.   Follow Megan on Social Media: Twitter: @CoachMeganDuffy Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
Our guest this week is the head football coach, Neal Brown. Currently, he calls Morgantown, West Virginia home, but that isn’t where his journey started. After graduating from college, he was unsure of where his professional career would lead him. He accepted a grad assistant position at the University of Massachusetts, his alma matte, and knew within months that coaching was what he needed to be doing. Recent events led to a tweet by Coach Brown: Be a Light which was inspired by a song written by country artist, Thomas Rhett. It includes a screenshot of the notes he took on his phone regarding the death of George Floyd and the topic of social injustice. Coach Brown explains that his message to the team was simple: Hate can’t win. Coach Brown developed a program called the 5th Quarter. This program concentrates on the development of the young men off the field. It includes a focus on character, leadership, and career development as well as discussing real-life (financial literacy, personal branding, cooking), and responsibility (current issues and community engagement).  We love that Coach Brown believes football is more than a sport; he believes it is a tool he was given to be able to develop young men.  Follow Coach Brown on Social Media: Facebook: @NealBrownWVU Instagram: @nealbrown_wvu Twitter: @NealBrown_WVU  Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
Our guest this week, Chris Herren has been sober since August 1, 2008. He had his first drink at the age of 12 and was addicted to drugs by the age of 18.   Growing up Chris’s desire to fit in lead him to the partying scene in high school which he recalls as just, “doing what all the other kids were doing” or so he thought. Surprisingly, through the drinking and the drugs, his natural athleticism and his fear of failure are what pushed him to make a career of basketball. He worked hard to made it to the NBA, he had a wife and kids and almost lost it all. After being arrested, overdosing and a few other tragic events that unfortunately are common in the life of an addict, he finally hit his rock bottom and started to work towards getting sober. He is now a motivational speaker using the brand name Herren Talks allowing him to share his story and generate raw necessary conversations. He is also the founder of the Herren Project which helps individuals and family members find treatment or support. He is also proud of Herren Wellness which is a holistic residential treatment facility focused on assisting men and women with recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, we encourage you to reach out using one of the resources listed below. Please, get help. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it National Helpline 1-800-622-HELP (4357) Social:  Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/chrisherren24/ LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/chris-herren-333381178/ Twitter – @c_herren - https://twitter.com/c_herren @HerrenTalks - https://twitter.com/herrentalks @herren_wellness - https://twitter.com/herren_wellness Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/c_herren_/  https://www.instagram.com/herrentalks/ YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYtRxEKlfIL9MRWcj_TGblw Website - https://herrentalks.com/about/ Herren Wellness - https://herrenwellness.com/
Our guest this week is Brian Zachary Pillman, the son of the late Brian William Pillman the American Professional Wrestler. Brian faced adversity at the age of 4 with the death of his father. He was raised by his Aunt Linda and “Uncle” Mike who he gives praise to for helping to shape his life. Brian took the traditional route by completing his formal education and accepting a corporate job, but he felt he needed more.    Follow Brian on Social Media: Instagram: @flyinbrian41 Twitter: @FlyinBrianJr  Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
First-generation college graduate, Joe Coniglio has fought his way to achieving a successful football career. After graduating from college, he wasn’t sure exactly where his career would go, but it was his desire to find his passion and purpose in life that allowed him to embrace every situation. Joe is currently the Outside Linebackers and Defensive Recruiting Coordinator at Kent State University. He believes the past and future success of his team starts with their head coach who brings a clear vision; Flash FAST is what they live by. Fun – team bondingAccountable – player lead team – coaches must show up and be the standard – mutually invest in each other to create the brotherhoodSmart – take care of each other on and off the fieldTough – must be willing to fight & grind Joe also discusses extreme ownership, how change is always possible, relationships, and embracing where you are. There is so much depth in this episode, you may need to pause, rewind, or listen again!   Follow Joe on Social Media: Linkedin: Joe Coniglio Twitter: @CoachConiglio51   Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
Our guest this week is 25-year Austin Hatch who will undoubtedly stop you in your tracks and encourage you to be grateful for everything you have.  He survived not just one plane crash, but two. Tragedy struck during both crashes ultimately resulting in every single member of his family dying. It is a true miracle that he was able to survive. He discusses the road to recovery and how he was able to persevere. While he does admit to suffering from survivors’ guilt, he chose to focus on controlling what he could control to make it through.  Austin went on to play basketball at the University of Michigan and is now a motivational speaker. He wakes up every morning with one goal; To make his family proud. Follow Austin on Social Media: Twitter: @AustinHatch30 Linkedin: Austin Hatch   Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast  
Four-time cancer survivor, Casey O’Brien continues to beat the odds.  Casey was 13 years young when he was first diagnosed with a rare bone cancer, osteosarcoma.  After kicking cancers ass for the fourth time, Casey joined the University of Minnesota’s football team as a walk-on placeholder. He fulfilled his dream by holding for an extra point during their 2019 season. Casey will continue to be at risk and face additional surgeries as a result of his treatment, but he leans heavily on his faith to get him through any adversity and has won our hearts!   Follow Casey on Social Media: Twitter: @caseyob14 Instagram: @caseyob14   Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
This week’s guest, Jerry Schemmel is a famed broadcaster, author, cyclist and motivational speaker who has had a brilliant career. He had his underdog moment and beat the odds early in his life by surviving a plane crash. After an engine blew, his flight went down killing 112 people. Leaning on his faith in God, he was able to overcome his survivors’ guilt from that terrible day in 1989. He continued to push himself to new limits cycling 3,000 miles in seven days and 14 hours winning the two-person relay division. To say he understands how to overcome adversity would be an understatement.   Follow Jerry on Social Media: Twitter: @jschemmel6 Instagram: @underdog_pod Linkedin: Jerry on Linkedin Website:www.jerryschemmel.com   Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
This week’s guest is Jim Walter. Easily put, he is our Jerry McGuire. Scroll through his social media and you can see that he spends his time working hard for some pretty big names in the sports world. But he didn’t have an easy start. At a very young age, he discovered that his father was living a double life with another family. I’m sure you can imagine what that does to a teenage boy trying to figure out life.  He made the conscious choice to use it as fuel and is now the President at Kaulig Sports & Entertainment.   Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
Our guest this week is 17-year-old, Adam Chaney. Adam is a World Junior Record Holder and top 5 national recruits. He has swum in places like Budapest and Fiji and holds several state, national, and world junior titles allowing him to become an Olympic trials qualifier. After swimming an entire summer through a broken back, the injury worsened forcing him to sit out three whole months. But that didn’t stop him. Post-injury, he went on to win two state titles and competed in the Junior Pan Pacific Championship earning a silver and bronze medal.Adam has committed to the University of Florida in the fall, He is a levelheaded young man and we can’t wait to see what he will accomplish next!   Follow Adam on Social Media: SwimSwam Profile: Adam Chaney Instagram: @ace10chaney Twitter: @ace10chaney Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
Jeff Piecoro is currently a sportscaster for Fox Sports Ohio. You may have seen or heard him reporting for the Cincinnati Reds for their Reds Live pre-and-post-game shows and as a dugout reporter.  Jeff was told at the beginning of his football career (we won’t say how long ago, but will tell you he has aged very well) that he didn’t have the speed or the size to play in the SEC. But that didn’t stop him. He was a walk-on at the University of Kentucky. He was a redshirt his first year & continued to fight for his spot eventually earning a scholarship & lettering. His drive has led to his success. Jeff is not only a passionate sportscaster but also a passionate family man. He is focused on providing better independent living options for his developmentally disabled, son & others like him. He was one of the founders of the Ken Anderson Alliance; Their mission is to build assisted living communities for people with developmental disabilities. If you would like to volunteer or donate to the Ken Anderson Alliance go to https://www.kenandersonalliance.org/. We are sure you will enjoy getting to know more about how Jeff manages a 10-12-hour workday & remains a huge part of his children’s lives.   Follow Jeff on Social Media: Twitter: @JeffPiecoroc Instagram: @jeffpiecoro Linkedin: Jeff Piecoro     Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
Our guest this week is comedian and entrepreneur, Josh Sneed.  Josh worked as a Systems Analyst at Procter & Gamble before he quit his JOB (journey of the broke) and started living his dream.  Being a comedian is no joke, pun intended. He worked hard to hone his craft before he finally got the courage to get up on stage. He talks to us about the impact his dad had on his career and the toll his unfortunate death had on him in 2008. He also talks with us about how COVID-19 prevented him from performing at some of his dream venues. Josh is also the proud owner of Cincy Shirts. This trendy clothing company is based out of Cincinnati and brings a smile to every person who dons their brand. He encourages everyone to follow their dreams because tomorrow isn’t given. COVID-19 RESOURCES Centers for Disease Control and Prevention World Health Organization  Underdog listeners get 10% off your first month at BetterHelp. Visit www.betterhelp.com/underdog to start getting help today!   Follow Josh on Social Media: Twitter: @JoshSneed Instagram: @joshsneed Website: https://www.joshsneed.com/     Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
This week’s guest not only has a powerful story but sheds some light on the pandemic that is COVID-19 & how our essential works can stay safe. For Dr. Jessica Evans, 2015 was a pivotal year. She finished her residency and was actively studying for boards. She had trouble getting pregnant, found out her husband cheated on her, and had several deaths in the family. As if that isn’t enough both of her parents were diagnosed with cancer and mom almost died from chemo.  She only worked & slept. After she and her husband separated, she did all she could to find balance again but staying busy with work wasn’t enough. She started counseling and decided she needed something to look forward to.  She created “The Year of the Bucket List.” She added 12 things to her bucket list, some big some small, but it was just what she needed to pull herself out of her funk. She is now happily re-married and focused on helping others. By profession, Dr. Jessica Evans is an Emergency Medicine Doctor. She breaks down what COVID-19 is and why it’s so dangerous. She also provides her advice on how essential workers can stay healthy. Wash your hands – virus can live on surfaces up to 72 hours Don’t touch your face  Social distance – broomstick length between people We are so very thankful that Dr. Jessica Evans and all of the other essential works are putting themselves at risk every day to help keep us safe and healthy. COVID-19 RESOURCES Centers for Disease Control and Prevention World Health Organization  Underdog listeners get 10% off your first month at BetterHelp. Visit www.betterhelp.com/underdog to start getting help today!     Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast  
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