5 Questions with...Luvabull Ashley Bond

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5 Questions with...Luvabull Ashley Bond

By Jeff Nuich
CSN Chicago Senior Director of CommunicationsCSNChicago.com Contributor

Want to know more about your favorite Chicago media celebrities? CSNChicago.com has your fix as we put the citys most popular personalities on the spot with everyones favorite local celeb feature entitled 5 Questions with...

On Wednesdays, exclusively on CSNChicago.com, its our turn to grill the local media and other local VIPs with five random sports and non-sports related questions that will definitely be of interest to old and new fans alike.

This weeks guesta true Chicago beauty both inside and out who currently stars in Comcast SportsNets acclaimed documentary series, The Making of the Luvabullsshe was crowned Miss Illinois USA 2009, shes also standout dancer, an expert fitness guru, plus she was recently named the 1 Sexiest Dance Team Babe in the NBA by Bleacher Report -- but more importantly -- shes one of the nicest people youll ever meet(hum that famous pageant song intro here) There she isits 5 Questions withASHLEY BOND!

BIO: Ashley Bonds life was changed forever when she was crowned Miss Illinois USA 2009 in early December 08. With many excited friends and family to share in her joy, Ashley became the 58th honoree to win the title of Miss Illinois USA. The reality of the moment had not truly set in, until one of her brothers asked Is this your best day ever? As she thought about it for a millisecond, she smiled and said, Yes!

Ashley is the only daughter to Michael Bond and Kelly & Steve Patten. She is also the proud big sister to twin brothers, Sean & Brad. Currently, the 27-year-old brunette resides in the city of Chicago, a place that has introduced her to great people and wonderful opportunities.

Ashley grew up in Streamwood, IL, and graduated from Streamwood High School in 2002. She always knew she wanted to go to a Big Ten college and couldnt dream of attending one in any state other than the great state of Illinois. Urbana-Champaign then became her home for the next four years. While attending the University of Illinois, Ashley became a member of numerous organizations: the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society, Delta Gamma Sorority and the world-renowned Marching Illini in the section of Illinettes.

The Illinettes, the official dance team of the University of Illinois, named Ashley captain her junior year. That year she also had the honor of being a part of the NCAA final four as the Fighting Illini headed to St. Louis. The amazing accomplishment of the basketball team provided many nationally-televised interviews and appearances for Ashley. In May of 2006, Ashley graduated with high honors as a James Scholar and an eight time Deans list recipient. Receiving her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from the University of Illinois has and will continue to help her reach many of her lifelong goals.

Ashley has already accomplished many of her dreams since earning her degree. After graduating, Ashley left home and began working for the Fortune 100 Company Walt Disney. As a cast member in the entertainment department at Walt Disney World Resorts, Ashley performed in numerous events including the "Celebrate the Seasons" show at Cinderellas Castle at the Magic Kingdom. After returning from Orlando, Ashley began working as a personal trainer. It was then that Ashley realized the positive impact she could have in society by educating, motivating and teaching others to lead a healthy lifestyle.

To keep herself healthy, Ashley continues her passion and dances. Dancing since the age of two, she is honored to now be a five-year veteran of the Chicago Luvabulls, the official dance team of the Chicago Bulls. As one of ten ladies chosen to represent the NBA and the Luvabulls overseas, Ashley left for Paris and Holland two weeks after winning the title of Miss Illinois USA. Ashley performed and brought awareness to the Miss Illinois USA title in each country. She hopes to have many more opportunities to travel the world and represent, not only her state, but her country. She is grateful for the many opportunities being a Chicago Luvabull, an NBA ambassador and a personal trainer has given her.

Charity work is also an important part of Ashleys life. She has been involved with numerous organizations such as Bright Pink, the H Foundation and Charitabulls. In addition, she has volunteered at numerous dance clinics and physical education events in elementary schools. During college, Ashley took part in a philanthropy event in which she bought Christmas gifts and delivered them to children in an elementary school. Seeing the excitement on the childrens faces created such joy for Ashley. It was during this profound moment that Ashley realized she wanted to focus her energy on helping children.

Ashley has a strong commitment toward ending childhood obesity as well. Her tireless efforts working with school district administrators to bring more attention to this unfortunately rising issue in the United States continues to be major focus in her life.

Ashley can be currently seen on Comcast SportsNets acclaimed four-part documentary series entitled The Making of the Luvabulls, plus - you can read her Body by Bond fitness blog on chicagonow.combody-by-bond and you can check her out on BULLS TV (via http:www.nba.combullsbullstv) and from time-to-time in the RED EYEs Chicago 5 on 5.

1) CSNChicago.com: Ashley, as youre well aware, Comcast SportsNet is currently airing the popular four-part documentary series, The Making of the Luvabulls (Part II debuts tonight at 7:00 PM!). As a five-year Luvabulls veteran and one of the primary stars of this series, what was it like for you personally to have our behind-the-scenes producers (Sarah Lauch & Ryan McGuffey) and crew covering the entire process from start to finish (that had to be a little more nerve-wracking for those women vying to make the team the first time out as well, right)?

Bond: I thought it was a unique opportunity to be filmed throughout the entire audition process. On the one hand, it pushed me even a little harder because I knew there were cameras there. On the other hand, it made it a little more nerve wracking than normal while performing. I kept telling myself, don't fall or trip, because that'll be the spot that gets shown on TV! Obviously, at any audition, you want to do your best, but usually if you mess up, you move on and try to forget about it. But when it's on film, you're going to see it again. No one wants to look back and say "Oh, goodness! Yep, that was me. Doing something crazy during that dance. I just told myself to relax, do my best and if I fall, oh well. At least then maybe I could give somebody else a laugh watching, too. You'll have to watch to find out if I did any face planting.

I think for any woman trying out for the team, whether new or returning, the cameras made it a little more nerve wracking, just in different ways. Luvabulls are required to audition every year. No one is safe. I had been on the team for four years at that point, but I couldnt help but wonder, what if I dont make it this year? This year, the year that it is all being caught on camera! This thought definitely went through my mind during auditions as well.

Despite the fact that these thoughts went through my head, I forgot about the cameras most of the time. I was there to accomplish a goal and all my energy went to achieving that. I can't control whos going to be at auditions or whos going to be watching, just like I can't control any of the 20,000 people attending a game. I just focus on what I can do, and to be the best performer I can be. I'm excited to see what the cameras have captured. Being a Luvabull has been a huge part of my life. It's pretty neat to have something to look back on that captures a huge piece of it.

2) CSNChicago.com: Youve been a crusader in helping fight child obesity through your valiant efforts in reaching out to schools, parents and kids to increase childhood physical activity and athletic involvement. With cost-cutting moves continuing to occur within school systems across the country, do you think this battle can actually be won anytime soon?

Bond: I do believe the battle can be won in increasing childhood physical activity in schools despite cost cuts. I think budget cuts are extremely unfortunate and I don't have the answer to fixing that. I do believe that by restructuring the normal P.E. class schedule and curriculum, we can help improve physical activity in children. Instead of focusing on just athletic skills, I think we need to focus on teaching kids how to be healthy. I also think its important to help children find an activity that they enjoy and feel good participating in. Thereby, improving the child's confidence and hopefully building a foundation for them to want to continue to be active.

When I was growing up in school, all we did was play sports. I never truly loved gym class until my senior year when I was able to take a strength and conditioning class. It was because I had a genuine interest in it. I believe sports and team building are important parts of P.E., but I also think other options and activities need to be implemented in the curriculum. The goal should be to have fun while educating and encouraging children about the benefits of being healthy and active.

3) CSNChicago.com: Naturally, being crowned Miss Illinois USA 2009 was a life-changing moment for you. What was more demanding for you personally during that whole process: the physical aspect of looking your very best at all timesor the mental aspect of avoiding the non-stop demandsdistractions and keeping a sharp focus on your goal from start to finish?

Bond: I think the mental aspect was probably more challenging than the physical aspect. I enjoy working out so, from the fitness standpoint, it was fun for me to go to the gym and get myself in the best shape I could possibly be in. During competition preparation, I was eating extremely well. I cut out sweets and fried foods and was pretty much cooking all of my meals at home. It was hard to go out for birthdays and events because I wasn't eating out. Being out and about made it very tempting to eat poorly. Between my job and Luvabulls, the rest of my time had to be spent wisely. I said no to joining my friends at a lot of social activities, so I could work on the things I needed to prepare for the pageant. I had to continuously stay focused on the goal. I had amazing support from my family, especially my mom, and my friends. They all encouraged my efforts toward reaching my goal. Im happy to look back and know that my hard work paid off.

4) CSNChicago.com: Outside of being a Luvabull, youre also a HUGE Bulls fan. Tell us the one game that immediately stands out in your mind that made you say, I cant believe Im actually sitting on the United Center court watching this unbelievable game!

Bond: There are so many games in which I think, "I can't believe I'm sitting on the Bulls court right now," but the one game that sticks out in my head more than any other is the triple overtime game in the 2009 playoffs against the Celtics.

We had just come from the previous game going into double overtime. I never imagined that the game would go into triple overtime! The excitement from the crowd literally sent chills down my arms. The entire squad was dancing at the playoff games, which was a unique feeling as well. During the regular season, there are only ten girls performing at each game (except for a few special games). So, when the entire squad performs together, I feel an even greater energy dancing during the games. By the end of any game, you can be pretty tired, but when it goes into overtime, that's when you really have to give it your all. I always try to remember that this could be someone's only chance to see a Bulls game. I will do everything I can to make sure I do my part in them having a great experience at the game. Every time the Bulls went into overtime, it brought a new excitement and anticipation. The Bulls won that night and every time I think about that game, it makes me smile.

5) CSNChicago.com: Outside of your constant work schedule, Im assuming you do take some time to hang out with friends and enjoy Chicagos amazing nightlife. Tell us your Top 3 favorite downtown hangouts that Bulls fans should definitely hit up soon.

Bond: My top four (I have to give 4 for this one) favorite downtown hangout spots are Gibsons, Underground, Market and Paris Club. Gibsons has great food, fast service and is open late. It's my favorite spot to head to when I'm hungry after a game. Market is a great place to head to when you want to watch a game and grab food. In the summertime, the rooftop also provides a great view of the city. Underground is a fun spot to go to when I'm looking to dance. Paris Club is also another great night club. It has a glass roof which makes it a very unique place to be at. If you have time to hit up any of these spots, I think you'll enjoy yourself.

BONUS QUESTIONCSNChicago.com: Anything else youd like to promote Ashley? Tell us, CSNChicago.com readers want to hear about it

Bond: Charity work is an important part of my life. We do a great deal of charity work as Luvabulls, and I have a few charities that I support and work with outside of that as well. I am an honorary board member for the H Foundation, which benefits the Robert H. Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. They have one event a year called the Goombay Bash and it is my favorite charity event. It's fun, inspiring and extremely memorable. Bright Pink is another organization I support and love to be involved in. The founder, Lindsay Avner, is an inspiring woman and I encourage everyone to attend a Bright Pink event. Another philanthropic company I support is Seer Outfitters. They sell awesome shirts and the profits go to underprivileged children and those in need. They make great gifts. One of my future goals is to raise enough money to be a part of the Ride for the Roses LIVESTRONG ride in Austin, Texas.

Bond LINKS:

CSNChicago.coms official Making of the Luvabulls page

Bulls.coms official Luvabulls page

Body by Bond blog on ChicagoNow.com

Official Body by Bond website (coming soon)

Ashley Bond on Facebook

Ashley Bond on Twitter

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs visit White House as World Series champions

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs visit White House as World Series champions

On the latest edition of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, David Kaplan is joined by David Haugh (Chicago Tribune) and Jason Goch (SB Nation Radio) to discuss the Cubs' visit to the White House.

The guys reflect on the historic day and Theo Epstein's speech. Then, the panel breaks down the Packers' impressive run and question whether it's okay for Bears fans to appreciate Aarond Rodgers and company.

Finally, are the Wild the Blackhawks' biggest threat come playoff time?

Listen to the SportsTalk Live podcast below.

 

Fire trade for midfielder Dax McCarty

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USA TODAY

Fire trade for midfielder Dax McCarty

Midfield has been an area of focus this offseason for Chicago Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez and another new addition to that group was added on Monday.

The Fire have traded $400,000 in general allocation money in return for midfielder Dax McCarty from the New York Red Bulls. Paul Tenorio of Four Four Two first reported the trade.

McCarty was an All-Star in 2015 and part of the league's Best XI that season when he had eight assists to go with a goal. Last season he made 26 starts for the Red Bulls and totaled three goals and had five assists.

"Since the middle of 2016, we made acquiring Dax our No. 1 priority," Rodr√≠guez said in the club's press release. "We believe adding his character and leadership in the locker room, as well as his exceptional soccer abilities on the field, dramatically improves our team."

The last time McCarty played at Toyota Park was a 2-2 draw on July 31 when a Khaly Thiam tackle caused a fractured tibia, which forced McCarty to sit out a month.

McCarty got married on Saturday, which delayed his arrival to the current U.S. national team camp. McCarty's participation in national team camp means he will join the Fire's preseason already in progress. The final match of the camp is on Feb. 3 while the Fire are set to start preseason on January 23.

McCarty, 29, has spent the past five and a half seasons with the Red Bulls. He began his career by playing five seasons for FC Dallas and was with D.C. United for part of the 2011 campaign before being traded to the Red Bulls. As an 11-year league veteran and the Red Bulls' captain, McCarty adds leadership and experience which Rodriguez has prioritized this offseason.

The Fire already added a former MLS All-Star in midfield this offseason in Juninho. The pair could line up next to each other in the preferred 4-2-3-1 coach Veljko Paunovic used for most of last season. This also could potentially put Matt Polster's role with the team in question. As the roster stands now, the third-year midfielder would be competing for two veteran All-Star caliber midfielders who were brought in at a high price.

Not to suggest a position move is in the works for Polster, but he did split time between midfield and right back with the Fire in 2015 under coach Frank Yallop and played there for the U-23 national team in Olympic qualifying. Right back remains a position of need by Rodriguez's own admission.

The trade also adds further context to the Fire trading the No. 3 pick in the draft on Friday. The Fire swapped the pick for $250,000 in general allocation money from New York City FC and Tenorio is reporting the Fire will send $400,000 to the Red Bulls for McCarty. To add those two moves together, the Fire dealt the No. 3 overall pick and $150,000 of allocation money for McCarty.