Age * 22
Occupation * Basketball player
Why he's interesting: To be a superior athlete at such a young age is enough to qualify him. But when you add his quest to be a billionaire athlete, his incredible charm, his acting ability and his burgeoning business acumen, you realize that he's a new breed of ballplayer. He's going global.
On his childhood growing up poor: "I think inner-city kids can relate to what I went through and I can relate to what they're going through right now."
On-the-road occupation: Boo-ray, a card game in vogue with NBA players
All the more reason to eat your broccoli, kids: LeBron's typical pregame meal consists of seasoned chicken, broccoli, corn and sweet tea.
What Cavs owner Dan Gilbert thinks of LeBron, the businessman: "He's made some pretty strong moves," Gilbert says. First, he signed some incredible deals. Then, he took control of his marketing by hiring a close friend, Maverick Carter, whom Gilbert describes as "extremely bright, both street and book." So far, adds Gilbert, LeBron has "set himself up pretty good."
Believe it or not: LeBron has a shy side, according to Gilbert, who got to know LeBron over dinner at a downtown restaurant after he bought the team.
Does little LeBron Jr. have the gift? He shows early interest and skills (see story). As for his height, we're not sure. When we asked LeBron how tall he was, he replied, "About up to my thigh."
Age * 31
Occupation * Competitive fighter
Why she's interesting: At 5-foot-9 and 205 pounds, Stefanac is the 2006 Pan American Tournament Women's Heavyweight Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Champion, winning the title last year with a combination of technique and aggression that has earned her the nickname Lethal Lana. She also competes in mixed martial arts, a combination of every type of fighting (kicking, punching, etc.) rolled into one. "I'm ac-tually the most nonviolent person you'll ever meet. To me, this is just a sport, and I love the chal-lenge of winning."
Getting started: Always interested in the martial arts, she saw someone in a gym systematically take out six guys in about two minutes using jiu-jitsu techniques in a mixed martial arts class. "I was hooked," she says.
The difference between jiu-jitsu and karate: "Karate is a lot of self-defense and kicking. Jiu-jitsu is self-defense and a sport. It's like wrestling but more graceful and more technical."
Her best move: She crosses her legs around her opponent's neck until she submits. "It's not very nice."
Her favorite girlie thing: "I paint my toenails before every fight."
If she weren't a fighter, she'd be … a psychologist or psychiatrist.
Float like a nervous butterfly: "I fear losing because I want to be the best. If anyone says they're not nervous, they're lying." To that point, here's a quote she's posted on her MySpace.com page: "I ad-mire people who, despite their fear, will plough through adversity. I am drawn to the fearless and the bold. And I love those who are unafraid."
Her strangest training habit: Stefanac eats dinner in the morning and breakfast at night.
If you could hit one person in the world, who would it be? "I'd never fight anybody because they aggravated me. If I did, God bless them."
(AKA ROVER OF "ROVER'S MORNING GLORY")
Age * 31
Occupation * Morning radio personality
Why he's interesting: Rover hit the city's morning airwaves in 2003 and built such a rabid following that CBS Radio chose to expand his irreverent show to a total of six other Midwest markets when Howard Stern left for satellite radio last January. The promotion meant a relocation to Chicago, but Rover and his crew moved back to the 92.3 K-ROCK studios in August. The city's only syndicated morning radio personality, we can't keep our ears off of him.
Early influence: Listening to KISS-FM, while a kid living in Los Angeles. "I'm ashamed to say now that listening to Rick Dees in the morning is what got me into it."
Landing his first radio job in Las Vegas: "I made a fake résumé that said I worked at this station in Mil-waukee and made a fake tape and sent it in." But, when you're lying about working for Lazer 103 in Milwaukee, it's important to make sure the person interviewing you wasn't a consultant for the sta-tion at the time of your fake employment. "He gave me the job anyway."
Why "Rover's Morning Glory" connected with Clevelanders: "There's no one on the show with a big ego or who is letting it go to their heads," he says. "I don't think Cleveland would embrace us if we were walking around in leather pants wearing sunglasses at night."
Radio philosophy: "Our show can move from being very juvenile and people putting their tongue on bug zappers into a 20-minute conversation about the secretary of defense. We want to be funny, but overall, we really want to be entertaining."
Celebrity guests gone bad: Film critic Leonard Maltin was upset about being involved in a bit that in-cluded a homeless man giving film reviews. Rapper and reality TV star Flavor Flav hung up when Rover asked him if he disliked white people.
Coming soon: Rover is currently working on lining up a boxing match between his fearless on-air side-kick Dieter and Mike Tyson. Yes, that Mike Tyson. "I'd say we have a better than 50-50 chance of mak-ing that happen."
Age * 33
Occupation * Floor director for "FOX 8 News in the Morning"
Why she's interesting: She made her move from behind the camera in August with the "Ask Ms. Nyla" segment, which gives viewers a chance to ask the personalities questions and to see her decked out in Ohio State gear or dressed up as a cat (her Halloween costume) all in the name of good TV.
Her big break: She made the producers and newscasters laugh behind the scenes, so they decided to try Wilson in front of the camera. "I said, ‘What?!' "
The funniest question she's been asked: "Are you and Kenny [Crumpton] a couple?" For the record, they are not. "We have a brother-sister relationship." In fact, gentlemen, Wilson is single.
Win, lose or bleach? "I'm not really into sports, so I pick who's going to win based on if a guy has cool hair." She picked the Cincinnati Bengals over the Browns because of Chad Johnson's blond Mohawk.
In the green room: Wilson usually has a chance to meet guests before the show. She's met stars such as Bob Saget, Damon Jones and Sherman Hemsley. "I've met some really cool people."
Her ultimate guest: LL Cool J. "I love him. If he came I think I would probably pass out. I've seen him on TV and been to all his concerts. But if he walked into the studio, I'd go crazy."
On "Ask Ms. Nyla": "If it all went away today, I definitely would miss it. I do look forward to stepping out there and being silly."
A Folger's moment: She goes to bed around 6:30 p.m. and wakes up at 2:30 a.m. "I try to get the eight hours. It's especially hard in the summer when it's nice out."
TV junkie: "I'm crazy about TV — ‘The Simpsons,' ‘Family Guy,' ‘ER.' When I come home, I go straight to the TV if I don't take a nap."
Tricks she's learned from her TV anchors: Keep track of what you wear each day. "There have been times I pick an outfit that has a similar pattern, and I'll look on the TV and it looks like what I wore the other day." And just be yourself. "Pretend like we're talking without the camera."
Age * 18
Occupation * Entrepreneur
Why he's interesting: While most people his age are pooling money for a beer run, Justice is the CEO of Bounty Technologies Inc., which he founded.
Click, click: A full-service software programming firm, Bounty creates applications, Web sites and custom programs for businesses, as well as a variety of other networking solutions.
All in the family: Justice, about to move his business from its current digs in North Olmsted to downtown, employs about 10 people, including his older brother, who does the company's finances. "I offered to pay his way through college if he did a good job, and so far he's been doing an outstanding job," Justice says.
Business and pleasure: Although Justice is an equal-opportunity software developer, he especially relishes programming involving games. He created and markets a unique cheater-detection system for online game tournaments. "I think it's every programmer's one-day dream to make that one perfect program, and what better than something that brings everyone joy, like a video game," he says.
This gamer's game: Warcraft 3 and World of Warcraft. "If I could get an autograph from a Blizzard developer, I'd probably cry!" he says.
The ride: If he's not working or attending Cleveland State University, he's on his lime-green Kawasaki Ninja. "A motorcycle is a tech cowboy's horse, because it has that same effect; when you ride a horse, it's just you and the horse," Justice says. "Same way with my bike."
Advice to would-be entrepreneurs: "Make sure you get a good amount of sleep. Sleep is priceless."
Age * 34
Occupation * East Cleveland City Council president and aide to Cuyahoga County Commissioner Pe-ter Lawson Jones
Why he's interesting: He's achieved the nearly impossible: bringing civility and diplomacy to East Cleve-land's infamously contentious City Council meetings. He's established a good working relationship with the city's mercurial mayor, Eric Brewer.
Call to order: He strictly enforces time limits on speeches by council members, the mayor and the public. In case of outbursts and arguments, he bangs the gavel. "I never raised my own voice," he says. "At the table, I do not criticize my colleagues on council."
What he's learned from Jones, his boss: "The importance of treating people right. Honesty. Being a men-tor."
On East Cleveland: "We have available land for business opportunities. We're close to Case Western Re-serve University. We have one of the best parks around, Forest Hills Park; it's a great place: green, beautiful, peaceful. You can walk for hours in there. There are beautiful homes in East Cleveland, much less expensive than other places, including Rockefeller homes."
His political inspiration: Theodore Roosevelt. Teddy's famous speech about the "man in the arena" who "strive[s] to do the deeds" and "spends himself in a worthy cause" helped inspire Norton to apply for an open council seat in 2004.
Family man: His wife of four years, Shalom, gave birth to their first child in August: a daughter, Kend-all.
His favorite reality TV show: "Flavor of Love," in which women throw themselves at rapper Flavor Flav. "You have beautiful women going after an ugly man who is almost 50 years old and is crazy. He has gold teeth, he wears Viking helmets, he wears capes and crowns. … It's hilarious. It allows me to de-tach completely from reality."
Age * "I'd rather not say."
Occupation * Dancer and choreographer
Why she's interesting: Originally from the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Cleveland, McIntyre moved to New York City after college to become a dancer. She founded her own company, Sounds in Mo-tion, in 1972 and later became a sought-after freelance choreographer. In 2003, she returned to Cleveland to be with her family. She is renowned for using movement to honor black spiritual tradi-tions, as well as her family's own history, and has received numerous awards, including a 2006 life-time achievement award from the Cleveland Arts Prize.
New York in the '70s: "It was a very vibrant time for the arts. People were doing a lot of experimenta-tion in the arts because it was a good time for funding of new and experimental work. I was in on the ground floor."
What she found out about Cleveland by moving to New York: Young Clevelanders who want to be artists "can get the very best training of any place in the whole country," she says. What's more, wanting to be an artist is accepted here in a way uncommon in the rest of the country. "If you want to pur-sue the arts, it's like ‘go for it,' " she says.
On "Dancing With the Stars": "It helps wipe out old stereotypes about men and dance," she says. "A star football player became the winner. It's brought a good new image to dance. I think it's really great."
Keeping fit: McIntyre does a dance warm-up every day to keep physically fit and "mentally clear." When you're not dancing full time anymore, she says, you realize that "you're not thinking as clearly … that movement gives you a sense of well-being."
Where you can see her work next: In February, her choreography work can be seen at Oberlin College in "Daughter of a Buffalo Soldier."
* EnvironmentalistWhy he's interesting:
He started Turtle Plastics, a Lorain company that turns garbage into plastic products. It made him enough money to buy a house on the lake, but he chooses to drive a Jetta that runs on grease. He also founded a nonprofit that built a school in Haiti, furnishing it with thousands of dollars worth of Bay Village "garbage."Grease? That's right
. Not biodiesel, but straight grease. He picks it up from a restaurant near his office in a 5-gallon pail. Because grease solidifies at room temperature, his car also has a diesel tank, which it uses for about three minutes until the grease liquefies. Because he uses so little diesel and grease is free, he spends almost nothing on fuel.On his curb each week
: Less than one small can's worth of trash and lots of
recyclables. His inspiration
: Norton grew up during World War II, so his earliest memories are of paper drives and ra-tions. "There was hardly any garbage in those days," he says. "People were saving everything. I guess it kind of got in my blood."How Haiti got in his blood, too
: Norton's wife, Dr. Karen Bradley, went on a medical mission there, and Nor-ton went along. They saw a need and built a two-room schoolhouse. Now, they've got 1,500 kids in the nondenominational Christian school and classrooms for kindergarten through high school. For more info, visit www.haiticocina.org
.The Bay Village connection
: When the old middle school in Bay was scheduled to be demolished, Norton asked if he and other volunteers could look for things to salvage before the wrecking ball hit. They got a bleacher system that holds 1,800 people, 400 lockers, 350 chairs and more. Even with shipping costs, it amounted to a huge savings.Future plans for Haiti
: Teaching his school's graduates how to earn a living, from fixing motorbikes to making crafts to chicken farming.
Age: * 24
Occupation: * Entrepreneur
Why she's interesting: This entrepreneur has created a Web site for students and young artists to share their artwork, network and find jobs.
The big idea: Full of tips, articles, profiles and user portfolios, the site "provides a different way to provide a 3-D look at yourself — not just a résumé," Fink says. "It's a way that makes you stick out in that pool of a thousand other people."
In the fishbowl: Fink and her business partner Andria Trivisonno were the first tenants of the eTech Hatchery, the little glass building in Star Plaza near Playhouse Square. "We had people coming in ask-ing for coffee and bagels, and asking for maps of the city of Cleveland," she says. "Actually it was great traffic, because we turned around and gave them a PMO brochure."
Parlo Italiano? Fink, who is half Italian, is learning to speak the language with the hope of someday traveling to Florence or Rome to complete her college degree, which she put on hold to pursue her business.
Rough and tumble: Don't let the high heels fool you — she grew up a tomboy, and still plays volley-ball, softball, flag football and beach volleyball with Cleveland Plays. In grade school, she played second base and pitched in a traveling boys' baseball league. "In eighth grade, I played against all of my guy friends. I was pitching against my ex-boyfriend, and I struck him out," Fink proudly recalls.
Philosophy: "I just want to do everything I possibly can. I want to ride elephants in Africa. I want to walk the green hills of Ireland. I want to do everything and see everything."
BILLY MATSUMOTO (AKA BILLY THE KID)
* College studentWhy he's interesting
: The St. Ignatius graduate and Lakeland Community College freshman can take on the Dance, Dance Revolution arcade game at the highest speed while juggling flaming torches. Plus, he does magic tricks and can balance objects (examples: an 8-foot basketball hoop or a16-foot ladder with two chairs on top of it) on his chin. It all started when
: Matsumoto worked at an arcade with a Dance, Dance Revolution machine. "My friends would bet me that I couldn't do DDR and juggle at the same time. I couldn't at first, but I practiced it, and I got it down."His favorite DDR song
: "Can't Stop Falling In Love (Speedy Mix)"Playing with fire
: "I wanted to make a video to send out to TV shows, so I added the flaming torches because, obviously, it's a lot more flashy." And it worked. He's been on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," ABC's "Master of Champions" and "Good Morning, America." And he has a slew of YouTube videos showing off his quirky talents.On meeting Ellen:
"It was so nerve-racking, but I watched her during the rehearsal and she was just cracking jokes left and right." A lucky break:
One of his friends performed his magic act on "Master of Champions." When another act canceled at the last minute, the friend told the producers to call Matsumoto. "The next day they flew me out to L.A." Matsumoto ended up winning the competition. His going rate
: He performs at birthday parties and corporate functions for usually $150 an hour, de-pending on what he is doing. Check out www.billymotts.com
for more information. Favorite magic trick
: Mini-cube. "A girl gets into the box, and you cut her in half, take the box apart and then put it back together." He hasn't attempted this trick by himself yet. His juggling record
: Nine balls. "That's only happened once before and probably won't happen again." He can consistently juggle seven. Career ambitions
: He wants to perform on cruise ships, amusement parks or in Las Vegas, and if all else fails, become a teacher. "I can entertain the kids and teach them." His hidden talent
: Rubik's Cube. "I can solve it in under a minute."
Age * 31
Occupation * Meteorologist
Why she's interesting: A cushy job plotting sunshine somewhere down south? No thanks. This NewsChannel5 meteorologist likes the challenge of "active weather." Originally from Indianapolis, Horgan comes to Cleveland via stints in Indiana and Cincinnati. She also spent part of her college years studying in Paris and Villefranche-sur-Mer, a nestled between Nice and Monaco.
Let it rain: "Fifty degrees and rain all day. I love that. It's very relaxing," she says. "I can nest."
But not on her Big Day: Weeks before her wedding last August, she checked the long-range forecast. It showed rain all day.She never checked again and wqs happily surprised by a beautiful 70-degree day.
The bride wore Nike: A month before her wedding, Horgan found out she had been walking around on a broken foot. She was able to remove the cast for the big day, but heels were definately out, so she wore silver Mary Jane Nike tennis shoes.
Her schedule: Up at 2 a.m., at work by 3:30 a.m., on air at 4:56 a.m. and noon. Done at 1 p.m. and in bed by 7:30 p.m. Her husband, WOIO/WUAB producer Patrick Mathews, works normal hours. "Literally, we never see each other," Horgan says.
What sold her on coming to Cleveland: Walking around downtown. "I've never had so many people say hello."
What she doesn't like about her job: The coffee. "That is sawdust," she laughs. Between her morning and noon broadcasts, she takes a Starbucks break.
Age * 46
Occupation * President and CEO, Cleveland.com
Why she's interesting: A former reporter for Rolling Stone, Wing moved back to Ohio (her dad was a Miami University professor during her teen years) and started working for Plain Dealer New Media in 1996. It became Cleveland Live, then Cleveland.com. Now she sits at the helm of the largest online news and information outlet in the region.
Before there was a dot-com in her life: "My favorite, and worst, interview [for Rolling Stone] was kd lang. I did a lot of people as they broke, and she hadn't really broken yet. It was on the bed in her hotel room and then on the subway home." The interview was fantastic, but her tape recorder malfunctioned and she didn't get anything. Like a good reporter, however, she had taken notes and was able to pull off the story.
Is she a techie? "I would play the complete technical klutz," she says of her tenure at Rolling Stone. Wing would pretend to be clueless about her tape recorder to put her interview subjects at ease: "I would spend a lot of time looking entirely inept, and by the time I was done they didn't really care about the questions."
Who are we kidding — of course she's a techie: MP3 players and the iPod have changed the way she listens to music. Now she often gets obsessed with individual songs instead of an entire album.
Old school: Though blogging fascinates her, she says, "if I have something to write, it goes into a ratty lit-tle journal. The creativity in my life is really going toward building this company."
Blog spots: She enjoys Web sites such as gawker.com, "because they are so snarky"; chocolateandzucchini
.com, where one of those perfect Parisian girls dishes out fantastic recipes with great style; and stephanie
klein.blogs.com, a very personal look into the life of a cosmopolitan young woman; and locally, brewedfreshdaily.com.
Her outward passion: "For us, it's all about reaching out even more in the community and getting the community to participate even more in the building of the site."
Her inward passion: Yoga. She also tries to meditate every day. "I love what I do," she explains, "but when I think about my accomplishments, I think about how I am in the world with my colleagues and
THE REV. RICHARD LENNON
Age * 59
Occupation * Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Cleveland
Why he's interesting: He spent seven months as interim leader of the Archdiocese of Boston in the thick of the Catholic priest scandal, emerging battered, but bolstered to become the bishop of Cleveland. In the wake of Cleveland's own priest scandal, he must confront issues such as a declining and aging priesthood, an exodus of parishioners from the city to the suburbs and an increased need for its ser-vices and charity.
Favorite Bible verse: Luke 1: 26-38 "Let it be done unto me according to your word." Says Lennon, "I try to live by that."
Favorite saint: St. Dominic de Guzman, founder of the Dominican Order, and a man so passionate about God that he was said to be "always either talking to God or talking about God."
One of his goals this year: To visit each of the 22 Catholic high schools in the diocese
Best advice the students have given him: Listen to as many people as possible and then make a decision. Treat everyone like your good friend.
A thorn in his side: Lennon entered the seminary with a longtime problem — stuttering — that threat-ened his call to the priesthood. After his first year there, he worked diligently, ultimately learning to breathe differently. The fear, however, is still with him every time he speaks in public. "There were years of embarrassment," Lennon says. "It's not easy to forget that."
Superhero tendencies: Lennon once got a ride on a plow so that he could celebrate Mass for a snowbound cloister of nuns. He has also helped rescue families trapped by coastal floodwaters during the Blizzard of '78 and even helped firefighters battle a blaze, according to The Boston Globe.
What his seven months as the apostolic administrator of the Boston Archdiocese taught him: Though it was the most difficult time of his life, he was humbled, astounded and encouraged by the support he received from people.
Age * 41
Occupation * Television director/producer
Why he's interesting: Mentioning Cleveland in his acceptance speech, Buckland won the "Outstanding Di-recting for a Comedy Series" Emmy for the pilot episode of NBC's "My Name is Earl." The Pepper Pike native is the executive producer of "Earl" and has directed episodes of "Scrubs," "The West Wing" and "NYPD Blue."
On Emmy night: "My wife and I were so convinced I wouldn't win we went [to the ceremony] very relaxed. Then, when they called my name, we were suddenly very unrelaxed because we were in shock."
What he watches: NBC's "The Office" and Showtime's "Weeds." "My wife has gotten me into all these real-ity shows: ‘America's Next Top Model,' ‘Project Runway' and ‘The Bachelor.' It's pretty pathetic."
Series that died too soon: "The Jake Effect," a 2003 series starring Jason Bateman and produced by Buck-land that was never seen on TV until NBC's Bravo Network unearthed the seven shelved episodes in 2006.
Breaking into the business: "I moved out here and acted for seven years before I realized I was really bad at it." He then started working for TV titan Steven Bochco's company on shows such as "Doogie Howser, M.D." and "L.A. Law."
Advice from the insider: "You have to stick with it and learn the craft and make sure you're as good at it as you can be, because there are a lot of talented people out here," he says. "The other side of the coin is you have to be persistent, because it's not necessarily the talented people who get the opportunities. … And then you have to have a relative in the business."
His relative in the business: Buckland's cousin, a director, introduced him to Steven Bochco.
JESSICA LEA MAYFIELD
Age * 17
Occupation * Student, singer-songwriter
Why she's interesting: Performing with her family bluegrass band since she was 8, Chittlin' was playing guitar and writing songs at 11. She's hoping to release her third solo album by her 18th birthday.
Melancholy muse: Chittlin' is most productive when feeling blue, so her music, which she describes as acoustic, alternative country and indie rock, often comes equipped with its own rain cloud.
Dear diary: "It's how I get my feelings out," Chittlin' says. "It's almost a little uncomfortable for me when I perform; it's like ‘here's my diary,' the stuff most people would write and hide under their bed. I just put it all on the table."
The fans: "I have a small base of huge fans," Chittlin' remarks. One man, who somehow got her ad-dress, showed up outside her house around 2 a.m. and began pelting her bedroom window with rocks.
What's in a name? As an 11-year-old, Chittlin' often kept company with her brother's friends; people twice her age. One such friend would tease, "watch what you say, there's a little Chittlin' about." It stuck. Many people didn't bother to ask her real name — Jessica Lea Mayfield — and eventually Chittlin' became more real to her than Jessica.
Fallback career: Poker. Chittlin' watches it on TV and gets some big tournaments going with her brother. She was glued to the screen as Jamie Gold took first place at this year's World Series of Poker main event. "It's like he has magical powers," she says.
Favorite musician: She was raised by a bluegrass-loving family, but it wasn't until a year ago that Chit-tlin' really began listening to and liking bluegrass music. She grew up rocking out to the Foo Fight-ers, still her favorite band. On her 16th birthday, she went to their show, stood up front, screamed her lungs out and scored Dave Grohl's guitar pick.
The future: "I want to explode and see the world."
Age * 33
Occupation * Preacher
Why he's interesting: Facing a financial crunch before moving here to start Momentum Christian Church, Smith created "Baby Got Book," a video spoof of rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back," star-ring one extremely large Bible. The video was a YouTube hit, landed Smith on VH1 and helped him sell comedy DVDs to fund his new church, which meets at Cinemark in Valley View every Sunday at 10 a.m.
Behind "Baby Got Book": Smith came up with the idea while serving as "creative arts minister" at a church in suburban Washington, D.C., where he wrote comedy skits that set up the topic for the day's sermon.
On Momentum's motto, "a church for people who hate going to church": "We wanted it to be a place for peo-ple who in the past felt that church wasn't for them, but they felt they were spiritually minded and wanted to have a relationship with God."
Church in a movie theater: Originally, it was just an available venue, but Smith also sees it as a welcom-ing environment. "It's a neutral ground," he says. "People think, I've walked out of movies that I've thought sucked before, I can always walk out of this."
Sensory Sundays: "We always try to engage all five senses. We always use great live music, humor, vid-eos and it also doesn't hurt that we meet in an auditorium that smells like butter."
His preaching style: Smith describes himself as a storyteller preacher. "Jesus never taught without us-ing a parable. That is really profound and simple, but it goes against everything preachers do today with the three-point sermon we learned from Plato."
NICOLE CUGLEWSKI and AHMAAD CRUMP
Ages * 24, 30
Occupations * Cleveland Cavaliers in-arena hosts
Why they're interesting: So you're sitting at The Q minding your own business and the next thing you know you're compelled to plant one on your wife in front of 20,000 of your closest friends on the Kiss Cam. Thank Nicole Cuglewski and Ahmaad Crump, the dynamic duo who troll the aisles during Cavs games looking for people to play games, have fun and get crazy. "For me, it's about having a feel for the crowd," says Crump. "We're always looking for people who are as excited as we are," adds Cuglewski.
Buttering up LeBron: Ahmaad makes sure to give LeBron's son something to keep him happy: a T-shirt, a minibasketball, whatever. But LeBron's mom, Gloria, is strictly focused on the game. "I don't want to bother her," Nicole says.
Pickup game: People really enjoy the way the duo works the crowd, since they are frequently offered phone numbers. "You have no idea," says Nicole. "OK, I've had a few offers," adds Ahmaad.
Better for the big screen: good-looking people or ugly people? "I'm just looking for the biggest fans," says Ahmaad. "All Cavs fans are beautiful," adds Nicole.
Nicole's favorite Cleveland athlete: Bernie Kosar
Old-school: Ahmaad loves vintage Cavs stuff. "If you've got it on, I'll find you."
Game on: Nicole's got game too. She won $247,000 on "Deal or No Deal" in a highly promoted No-vember episode. "There was $400,000 in the case I picked, but believe me, I have no complaints," she says. Other than the money, her biggest highlight was: "being in front of a national audience representing my city and my Polish heritage — I even taught Howie Mandel a Polish phrase, ‘Daj mi buzi,' which means ‘Give me a kiss' — and he did." Nicole says if she could be on any other game show, she'd pick "Family Feud." Ahmaad, a former records clerk for Ulmer & Berne, would put his numbers skills to the test on "The Price is Right."
Age * 42
Occupation * Director of performing arts
Why he's interesting: Since 2001, Sias has been in charge of performing arts in the Cleveland Municipal School District, and is the director of the all-city arts program, which includes an orchestra, drum line, dance ensemble and choir. Sias also directs the all-city musical, which is held in partnership with the Great Lakes Theater Festival, works in partnership with Kaiser-Permanente to present touring educa-tion plays about health issues (with student actors), and remains active in community theater.
All the world's a stage: "Theater is such an intimate and fragile art form, because the only thing you're working with is your instrument, your body," Sias says. "So it then unlocks an individual in a way that in-creases their ability to trust, to have a conversation, to be willing to take the risk of problem solving."
When he was a kid: Describing himself as chatty, dramatic and animated, he wanted to be an opera singer.
Dream role: Othello
Shuffle, shuffle, flap: "I wish I knew how to tap dance."
Sitting on top of the world: The wooden front porch on his 1937 Colonial home, which makes him "knee-slapping happy," was the deciding factor in its purchase. "The porch is a place of respite, a place of sharing, and a place of beauty," Sias says. "It is an extension of the living room and should be respected as such."
What's on his porch: A deuce rattan, wicker love seat, rocker, chairs with leaf motif and 12 large, potted plants. "From the street they can't see on my porch, but where I sit on my porch, I can see everything."
Cleveland is world-class: "In each of the arts disciplines, there is a professional presence as well as a com-munity presence."
Age * 37
Occupation * Artist, author, educator and stilt dancer
Why she's interesting: She's hardwired for creativity. The Cleveland Institute of Art grad designs extraordinary costumes and sets for SAFMOD, a multimedia performance ensemble (whose full name is Sub Atomic Frequency Modulation Overdose), and appears in shows with the group. She also makes wearable art and jewelry, and teaches kids. Oh, and there's all the stuff that goes on in her sculpture and welding studios, usually between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.
AKA: "Extrava-Xandra. She is a superhero goddess, my alter ego, and teh character I play on stage."
Current projects: A new collection of glowing, whimsical stagewear made with electroluminescent wire. Underhill describes it as "the Jetsons meet Dr. Seuss." And she just completed work on a book with Shannon Okey, another area artist, to be published in June, called "Alternation: Transform, Embellish, Customize," about using recycled clothing to make one-of-a-kind fashions.
Interesting gigs: A three-month stint in the wardrobe department of Cirque de Soleil and periodic jobs as a consultant for Cirque Berzerk, a risque version f the Big Top out of L.A.
Potential: Underhill describes herself as an empire waiting to happen. She envisions lines of her clothing and jewelry, more books, touring with a performance troupe, and a TV talk show with herself as host. Imagine Oprah with nose rings and tattoos.
Message to the world: "Concentrate on the giving and trust that you'll get." Note that while she believes passionately in this idea, Underhill comments that it might account for why whe lives her life on the financial edge.
Don't call it "Stilt walking": It's stilt dancing, and when done well it creates the illusion of floating in the wind.
Adrenaline high: An adrenaline junkie, she says the attraction to stilts combines risk, the demand to stay centered in order to stay balanced, and the sensation of playing with the laws of gravity and nature. Besides, for a short person like her, it's nice to tower over everyone once in awhile.
Age * 46
Occupation * Screenwriter/director
Why he's interesting: The Orange resident writes and directs feature films, graphic novels and television series, including horror flick "Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers," the Emmy award-winning HBO series "Spawn," and "The Marine," starring World Wrestling Entertainment star John Cena.
His take on film sharks: The only scripts McElroy wrote that appeared in true form on the big screen were "Halloween 4" and "Murder by Night." "They take it, hire someone else and by the time it gets to the screen you don't recognize the material anymore."
Face off: The characters Dan and Roy in "Layover," the 2001 movie he wrote and directed that starred David Hasselhoff and Gregg Henry, represent McElroy's good and bad side. "It probably has saved me hundreds of thousands of dollars in therapy," he admits.
On working with David Hasselhoff: "It was the most psychologically damaging experience of my life."
Hobbies: "Weirdly enough, if I wasn't a writer I'd write as a hobby." He'd also be cemented to the couch. "The creation of TiVo is probably the worst thing that has happened to me."
His wife: "[Kymm's] really been my rock. She's the one that will make me look at my own humanity and challenge me to look at what's important."
What's next? McElroy teamed with Cleveland director Dwight Little on a cinematic version of the cult video game Tekken. Independent distributors are working on its release.
Jet Li rumors: Jet Li will not be the leading role. "We'd love to give a break to a new young Asian or Ameriasian for that role," he says. "Kinda like we did for Brandon Lee in ‘Rapid Fire.' "
Age * 44
Occupation * Associate curator for African-American history, Western Reserve Historical Society
Why she's interesting: For the past year, Hall has focused her energy on creating Carl & Louis Stokes: From the Projects to Politics. "This is not a factoid exhibit," she assures. Instead, the showcase ex-plores the lives of the Stokes brothers, contextualizing them using news clips, period music, scrap-books and even a replica of their front stoop.
The best part: She most enjoys the murals. "They resonate quickly and strike an emotional nerve, whether it's good or bad."
Getting hooked: Hall fly-fishes in Lake Erie's tributaries and travels to exotic locales such as Belize, Ja-maica and Mexico to cast her line. Her favorite destination is the backwaters in Naples, Fla., where she catches myriad fish and relaxes to the motion of the ocean.
A fateful meeting: The late Cleveland R&B singer Gerald Levert introduced Hall to her husband of 20 years.
Fabulous food: Born and raised in Brooklyn, Hall misses New York City pizza and street-vendor hot dogs. But for the best bites in the Big Apple, it's got to be mom's soul food.
Call me? "When I was a DJ at gospel station WJMO and at WJTB for six years, the station got some weird calls. Some callers proposed to me, others were suicidal and a few I prefer not to talk about!"
Music choice: This "old soul" loves jazz standards, but also tunes in to R&B and hip-hop.
A Stokes she's stoked about? "Linton Freeman, the Stokeses' cousin, was my favorite. Carl dubbed him ‘The dean of the family.' " Keeper of the brothers' memorabilia over the years, he was also the con-summate family storyteller. He died in September at 88. "Linton always smiled, despite the difficult times he lived through."
Age * 23
Occupation * Football player
Why he's interesting: From his selection in the first round of the 2004 NFL draft to his much-publicized motorcycle accident that kept him off the field in 2005 to his comments this season on playing time and coaches, Winslow seems to always be in the news. But Winslow leads all NFL tight end in receptions (as of press time) and is making headlines for what he does on the field rather than off.
The newlyweds: Winslow met his wife when he was 13 years old at a high school basketball game and started dating her "right after I met her." The two got married in June. "We haven't gone on our hon-eymoon yet. We haven't had time." But they will make time for it, possibly with a trip to Hawaii (for the NFL Pro Bowl).
Getting psyched: Winslow listens to "In Da Club" by 50 Cent and songs from DMX and Ludacris in the locker room before games. He also thinks about all the people who doubted him. "I try to use that on the field as motivation."
Getting inked: The first of his four tattoos was the Miami Hurricane logo he got when he was 20 years old. His "K2" tattoo on his left arm is his favorite. "Jonathan Vilma [of the New York Jets] gave the nickname to me," he says. "He just called me it one time, and it stuck."
Like Mike: "I'm the biggest Jordan fan. I have about 10 pairs of Air Jordans."
Calling the fashion police: Growing up he would wear "gym stuff all the time." "I just used to wear Jordan shorts and a white T-shirt and some dusty shoes, because my dad would never buy me new shoes. But when I go out now I get suited and booted."
Fandemonium: "In the bathroom at a club, a dude told me to sign his hand — with a permanent marker." While most fans have been polite, others aren't so nice. "Some people have yelled, ‘I hope you get in-jured again.' I just take it as motivation."
His top three tight ends: Kellen Winslow Sr., Tony Gonzales, Shannon Sharpe
Father's footsteps: "I knew from when I was 5 years old that's what I wanted to do." He also wears his fa-ther's number. "I want to honor my dad. I always wanted to be like him and to wear his number is awe-some."
Hall of Fame dreams: "Right now we are just trying to win some games. That will come one day if I keep doing what I'm doing. That's what I always wanted to do, but I'm just starting out."
Age * 51
Occupation * Architect, real estate developer
Why he's interesting: We're the poorest big city. Our economy is down. Blah, blah, blah, blah. Bob Corna doesn't hear a word of it. He is co-developer of Stonebridge Condominiums in the Flats, the largest residential project in Cleveland in nearly a century. Corna isn't done, either: He's pushing hard for a re-tractable dome on Cleveland Browns Stadium in the hope of more events, more conventions and maybe even a Super Bowl.
Field of dreams: "I've always believed in the lakefront of this city," he says. "I felt that way when we de-veloped the West Bank of the Flats. If you build it, they will come."
Rough start: The day after he and Jeff Jacobs purchased the Powerhouse, they found a dead body in the building. "After that nothing makes me nervous," he says. "The bottom line is, the population trend is people moving near where they work. Now they have a beautiful, safe place to live."
Favorite Flats memory: On the night Coconuts opened next to Shooters, Corna walked across the river stepping from boat to boat. "That's how many boats there were," he says. "Awesome."
Raising the roof: "The stadium is used for 30 hours a year," he says. "It's ridiculous."
Game plan: Corna is working with City Council to put together a study to examine the benefits of his plan. "I want Super Bowl L [in nine years] here," he says. "It would mean a $300 million impact to the city."
More realistic: a Super Bowl in Cleveland, or Cleveland in the Super Bowl? "A Super Bowl in Cleveland," Corna says. "The ownership of this team has zero incentive to win."
* Cleveland schools CEOWhy he's interesting
: He has the tough job of giving Cleveland's kids a better education and convinc-ing Cleveland's voters that they can trust the school district again. His top three goals
: 1.) Moving Cleveland schools up in the state report card from "academic watch" to the "continuous improvement" level this year. 2.) Improving customer service, in part by having all schools and the board office answer all phone messages within one day and all written correspon-dence within seven days. 3.) Improving safety and security in the schools.His plan for increasing kids' test scores
: Each student will be pretested three times before the state's proficiency tests, so their classroom time can be tailored to their strengths and weaknesses.What he's done to improve security
: He's established a zero-tolerance policy — meaning expulsions or suspensions — for students involved in assaults that are "egregious and volatile … more than a pushing and shoving." Also, he's deputized school security officers, reinstituted a safety hotline and created student leadership teams in each school to address safety concerns.
Salary: $260,000Is he overpaid?:
"I think that I have a fair salary, consistent with national norms for a city of our size and complexity. I will work very hard to earn the trust and confidence of our community, so that they will feel that the result we are able to achieve is what they're interested in."Hometown:
SanduskyFavorite Cedar Point ride:
"Blue Streak. It's one of the original wooden roller coasters. My friend Glen Shumate and I rode it eight times in a row one summer."His church
: He drives to Sandusky most Sundays for services at the Emmanuel Temple Pentecostal Church. His brother is pastor there.Where he's been a teacher:
His alma mater, Sandusky High School, where he taught history and civics, and Bowling Green State University, where he spent eight years and taught courses on leadership and organizational change.
* Jewelry designerWhy she's interesting
: Many women wish they could work part time when they have kids. Ideally, from home — making a decent amount of money. Janoch, once the director of sales for Small Business News magazine, made that happen and found her passion in doing so — designing jewelry.The Big Guy who helped her:
"I prayed a lot about wanting to do a home-based business." Then, she saw a jewelry catalog and thought, I can do this. She went to a craft store to look for beads. I wonder if they have a book on how to make jewelry, she remembers thinking. "I turned around and there was a book on how to make jewelry."The other guy who helped her:
Janoch bought about $500 worth of materials and, while lots of people said they liked her designs, no one actually bought anything. She was ready to quit when her husband told her, "You love it so much, buy more. Buy the most expensive beads. Put it all together and go for it." She did, word got around, and she began selling at home parties. Peace Unique Jewelry Designs was born.Her product:
Jewelry ranging from $10 to $70 made of sterling silver, freshwater pearls, semiprecious stones and Swarovski crystals. Get it at www.peaceunique.com
or at Special Gifts in Chagrin Falls, Venetian Merchant in Little Italy and Bay-crafters in Bay Village.Good designs
: Janoch designs jewelry for charitable causes, including the Komen Race for the Cure. "I never set out to have it be just me as a big success," she says. "Since this was such an answer to prayer, I'm de-lighted to be in a position to be able to give back."
Age * 32
Occupation * Dressmaker and illustrator
Why she's interesting: This year, Fralick celebrates a decade of bringing fashion to Cleveland through her own line, Pinky's Daily Planner, and her studio in the Tower Press Building, where she holds trunk shows and open houses to show off the work of other local designers.
So really, who is Pinky? Fralick calls her the "ideal" girl. "She's modern, well-dressed and well-organized."
The Pinky look: "1965 meets two years from now. I really like minimalist clothes — pure design over adornment. There's so much within the realm of pure design."
What she's working on now: A lavender wedding dress, the knotted skirts from her most recent collection and the handbags and maternity wear that debut this year.
Stephanie, pre-Pinky: As a child, Fralick didn't just make doll clothes, she made the whole freakin' doll — by hand.
Grown-up Stephanie: Her favorite designers include Balenciaga's purse designer, Nicolas Ghesquiere, Lon-don-based designer Roland Mouret, and Rudi Gernreich, the creator of the topless bathing suit. "He was very mod for his time, he had a very avant-garde touch to his pieces that really set it apart from the go-go fare of the day."
If she weren't sewing: "Part of me has always wanted to design furniture."
On Cleveland's fashion scene: "It's building. As long as we maintain a sense of solidarity, I think we have a really good shot at being recognized." Fralick's clothing tends to sell better out of state; Pinky has shown up in boutiques from San Francisco to Atlanta, and was just picked up at stores in New York City and Chicago.
A few of the reasons why she doesn't have time to finish the graphic novel she started: Fralick designs and creates her outfits, illustrates her promotional material, does her own taxes, designs the Pinky Web site and organizes three to six open houses a year; at the fall '06 show, she featured the work of 11 designers.
BARBARA ST. HILAIRE
(AKA OLD GRANDMA HARDCORE)
* Video-game player/reviewerWhy she's interesting
: She curses like a sailor and plays video games like someone one fifth of her age. Ever since her grandson, Tim, started a Web site about his video game-playing grandmother, "Old Grandma Hardcore" has caught the attention of MTV, for whom she reviews games, and a host of other media outlets. Pac-Man Fever
: "I used to bowl in leagues and got started on the machines in the bowling alley." First home video-game system
: Atari 2600, followed by a ColecoVisionThe game that got her hooked
: "Super Mario Bros." for the original Nintendo Entertainment System What she's playing now
: "I'm going crazy with ‘Final Fantasy XII.' I've got 150 hours on that sucker, and I'm still not through with it." In fact, while we conducted this interview, "Final Fantasy XII" was paused on her television.The origins of "Old Grandma Hardcore":
Tim's Web diary of her video gaming habits (www.oldgrandmahardcore.com
) attracted attention quickly. But since it lacked photos or videos, some called it a hoax. "I told her, ‘I need to take your picture so I can prove you exist,' " Tim recalls. "It went from there to videos. After that, it just took off." Game systems she owns:
Xbox 360, original Xbox, PlayStation2, Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation Portable (PSP), Nintendo's DS Lite and the Atari Flashback Her favorite part of the notoriety:
"All the brand-new friends I've gotten to meet. I'd always been a loner growing up. … Now, I can't wait to get on Tim's blog and check the e-mails. In fact, now I've got a pen pal in Australia."
Age * 44
Occupation * Fund-raiser, volunteer
Why she's interesting: As "the busiest unemployed person you'll ever meet," Stewart makes things happen in Cleveland. As chairperson, she's instrumental in the Cool Nights, Hot Jazz benefit for Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, sits on the board at the Cleveland School of the Arts and, along with co-chair Paula Boykin, brought Chanel to Cleveland for a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum benefit fashion show worthy of Paris and New York. That, and she can probably snare a private tour of the Rock Hall anytime she wants from her husband, president and CEO Terry Stewart.
What motivates her: "Strong-handed friends," she jokes. "It's easy to be involved in a lot of charities here, because there are so many, and there are so many worthy ones. You just have to follow your heart."
Don't accuse her of playing favorites, but … The Chanel fashion show was her favorite event. "The production of it was just phenomenal. Everything just clicked." Her true devotion, though, is her work with the stu-dents at the Cleveland School of the Arts, where her son is a senior majoring in photography.
Fashion must-have for '07: "Thigh-high black boots." She's quick to add that there is a fine line between the kind of boots she's looking for, and the kind you may think she's looking for.
Her heart belongs to Cleveland: "The people here in Cleveland are some of the most generous. … They're very willing to give."
Success the Sally Stewart way:
1. Always honor your charity.
2. Triple check your thank-you list.
(Forgetting to thank someone is one of her biggest fears.)
3. Have a strong committee.
4. Start early.
5. Be professional.
Age * 8
Occupation * Student, amateur golfer
Why he's interesting: He's accomplished what many golf enthusiasts only dream about — a hole-in-one. But he did better than that, hitting two holes-in-one in the same round. Did we mention he's only 8? He's got a mean swing and holds the title of Junior PGA Champion for Northeast Ohio for his age group. Tiger Woods better watch out.
Early birdie: He started swinging a golf club at 1 1/2 years old and played in his first tournament at 5.
The best back yard: Vonderau has a chipping green, a putting green and a driving range in his 2 1/2-acre back yard.
Where you can find him: Columbia Hills Country Club. "We go there a lot. They have a swimming pool, and they have really nice golf greens. Their bunkers are regular sand like on a beach."
Low score: 34
Golf buddies: He normally plays with his dad. "We usually tie or he beats me by 5 strokes. I bet I'll be able to beat him when I'm 10 or 9." And for his grandpa, who he's played 10 times? "He beat me once."
On Tiger Woods: "He's my favorite player because he's really good at golfing. I
always watch him on TV and see how he's doing."
Golf balls of choice: Titleist Pro V1 or Precept MC. "I like the balls because they are really soft and they work really good."
He also likes: Fishing, skate boarding, ice skating, football, basketball and baseball
Go Buckeyes: "I love the Ohio State football team. I would really like to go to a game."
Tough Choice: Vonderau is deciding between attending St. Edward or St. Ignatius.
Age * 41
Occupation * Chef and restaurant owner
Why he's interesting: After working in other people's restaurants for 15 years, Sanchez took the leap and opened his own place in 2004 with his wife, Sylvia Roldán. They turned a former Taco Bell on Memphis Avenue into a lovely little spot with a menu featuring dishes Sanchez grew up eating in Puerto Rico. Great reviews and enthusiastic fans quickly followed. Last September, the Hispanic Business Association named Sanchez a Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
About the honor: "I got it for being successful. But the best part was being called ‘young.' " That's not a word the gray-haired father of five children typically uses to describe himself.
Why he cooks: "I've loved being in the kitchen since I was a kid. Making good food makes me happy. It's who I am."
Advice: "Never trust a chef who doesn't have food stains on his jacket."
How he recharges his batteries: He puts in 16 to 18 hours a day at the restaurant. After the last cus-tomer leaves, he sits down with a glass of wine, listens to some mellow Latin music and thinks about the future. "I always have a dream. It's what keeps me excited and gets me out of bed
What's next: Reinventing the restaurant in a bigger space as an elegant Cuban-style 1950s supper club and cocktail lounge with Caribbean food, tropical drinks, live music and a dance floor. "It will be like nothing else in Cleveland. I can already see every detail perfectly in my mind. It's going to happen, for sure."