5 Questions with...CSN's Sarah Kustok

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5 Questions with...CSN's Sarah Kustok

Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010

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 weekly 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 rising star on the Chicago sports media scene whos dedicated work ethic shines nightly on Comcast SportsNets SportsNitea standout basketball star in high school and college whos been able to make a smooth and successful transition from athlete to broadcasterplus, she one of the nicest people youll ever meethere are 5 Questions withSARAH KUSTOK!

BIO: Sarah Kustok joined Comcast SportsNet in 2009 as a feature and field reporter on SportsNite, along with occasionally co-anchoring the program. She was a sideline reporter for ESPN's college and high school remote football telecasts, as well as handled color analystsideline reporting duties for men's and women's college basketball. Kustok grew up in southwest suburban Orland Park, where she was a four-year varsity starter in both volleyball and basketball at Carl Sandburg High School. Sarah enjoyed a stellar college career at DePaul (2000-2004), where she was a team captain and later an assistant coach for Doug Bruno. At the end of her DePaul playing career, Sarah ranked 7th on the all-time three-point field goal list and 4th all-time in three-point field goal percentage. She graduated with a degree in CommunicationMedia Studies from DePaul University in 2004 and also completed her master's degree from DePaul in Corporate and Multicultural Communication last year.

1) CSNChicago.com: Sarah, as you can attest, its very common in our business to see numerous former athletes make the transition into sports broadcasting. As someone who has excelled in athletics for many years, what would be your biggest piece of advice for any athlete out there looking to get into the media biz and, a follow-up questionwhat would you say has been your biggest challenge so far in this early stage of your on-air career?

Kustok: The biggest piece of advice I would give to any athlete looking to get into the media industry is to take the same approach used for excelling in athletics and apply it to the challenge of breaking into this business. Whether it is sports, media, medicine, finance, you name itthe ability to work through adversity, embrace your own weaknesses, and find a way to make yourself better at whatever it is you are striving to become is essential. Competitiveness and athletics go hand in hand. It is much the same with media industry. More often than not, it is those people who are tirelessly working to improve their game that separate themselves from others. And with any dream, its a lot easier to chase it down if you are passionate enough to soak up all the good and bad that come during your journey to reach it.

Anyone in this business would tell you that challenges are present on a daily basis. I believe the biggest, though, is finding a way to truly be you. There are so many talented, successful media personalities in this city (particularly at Comcast SportsNet) that I love to watch, listen to, and learn from. They have become the best because of an ability to let their true personality shine through their work. It doesnt mean everyone will love you, but if you are genuine and real, it is much easier to be satisfied at the end of the day.

2) CSNChicago.com: There had to have been plenty of competition growing up in the Kustok household. Your dad Al played football at Illinois and your brother Zak will likely go down as one of the best quarterbacks in Northwestern history. Was athletics an intense part of your upbringing or was it something your parents wouldve been fine with if you chose not be involved in sports?

Kustok: From as far back as I can remember until today, all my parents ever wanted for Zak and I was for us to be happy. It just so happened that athletics always seemed to be the thing that I couldnt get enough of. Both Zak and I were blessed enough to have parents who supported us at every step of our athletic careers and made sure it was our own love to play sports that kept us involved. Just as important, I was fortunate enough to have an older brother that let me follow him around EVERYWHERE and always let me be a part of games as long as I could hold my own. Without him, I never would have achieved the success Ive found in sports or in life. By his actions, I learned more about perseverance, grit and hard work than anyone could have tried to explain to me. He may have been my best friend, but Zak had no problem giving me a black eye, bloody nose, or broken finger if it meant winning. So yes, it was intense, but those days of growing up playing sports have created some of the best memories that will always make us laugh.

3) CSNChicago.com: What broadcaster (past or present) do you admire most and can honestly make you say had a genuine impact on why you chose to get into sports journalism?

Kustok: I have always been and continue to be impressed by Robin Roberts. A big part of my initial intrigue about her work had to do with her athletic skill on the basketball court, but the more I watched her on ESPN and now Good Morning America, I am enamored with her ability to connect with people. Robin not only does her research and clearly knows her stuff, but also has a way of expressing a deep love for her work, which makes you sincerely interested in what she has to say.

4) CSNChicago.com: When youre not in the studio or covering an event, whats your favorite summertime activity in Chicago?

Kustok: Where do I begin?! I may be biased, but in my opinion, theres not a place that beats summertime in Chicago. The street fests and concerts are always a blast, but more than anything, I just love to be around the lake and enjoy how truly beautiful this city really is.

5) CSNChicago.com: If you can sit down and interview any non-sports related individual in the history of mankind, who would it be and why?

Kustok: Thomas Edison. It is difficult to really wrap your head around the ways in which he influenced and shaped the world we live in today. It would not only be fascinating to hear of the countless inventions and devices that he created, but where the formulation of his ideas even began. Creativity is inspiring to me and a mind like his that was constantly questioning everything around him would be amazing to dig into. Edison is a hero for his inventions, yet found a way to fearlessly overlook failure upon failure until he got things right. A conversation with a man like that would be a dream.

BONUS QUESTIONCSNChicago.com: Any upcoming appearances you want to promote Sarah? CSNChicago.com readers want to hear about it!

Kustok: I am truly honored for the second year in a row to emcee the Alzheimers Association Memory Rock event on Thursday, September 2nd, from 7-10pm at Joes Sports Bar on Weed Street. Alzheimers is a disease that affects over 5 million Americans and is the 7th leading cause of death in our country. Memory Rock is an opportunity to join together and help fight this disease. Plus, the night itself is a blast featuring live music, raffles, cocktails and a room filled with some really great people! I encourage everyone to click on the link below for more information and to purchase your tickets in advance. Look forward to seeing everyone there!

Kustok LINKS:

Alzheimers Association Memory Rock event on Thu, Sept. 2

Bears approaching 2016 with change in attitude

Bears approaching 2016 with change in attitude

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – When John Fox succeeded Marc Trestman as Bears coach early last year, at the top of his to-do list was changing what was a palpable losing culture that had come to hang over the organization and Halas Hall. That involved changes of personnel, practices and even to the point of placing an emphasis on winning preseason games, not simply treating them as evaluation exercises.

This year, attitude adjustment is the least of his concerns. Besides the improvements even amid a season that ended 6-10 but was within a pair of missed field goals of going past .500, the additions of critical players have brought with them exactly what Fox wants, beginning with inside linebacker Danny Trevathan, bringing a Super Bowl ring from the Denver Broncos.

“I’ve experienced a lot of new attitudes here the past few years,” said guard Kyle Long. “This is above and beyond my favorite attitude that we’ve adopted.

“People throw the word ‘culture’ around, [but] it’s just taking pride in what you’re doing. You don’t get paid to play. You get paid to win. I’ve heard John Fox say that a million times and I’m sure I’ll hear him say it 2 million times this year.”

Culture means nothing unless it translates into wins because of a collective mindset. Trevathan, linebacker Jerrell Freeman, defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, offensive linemen Ted Larsen and Bobbie Massie – all came from going to the playoffs at least twice in the past four years, Freeman and Trevathan three times.

The change was particularly evident during offseason sessions when members of the defense worked at a practice level that initially irritated some on offense, with coaches even joining in the chirping.

“I’m all about attitude and hustle and just playing ball,” said Trevathan. “I don’t care what happened before. You can always make up for it, just go 100 miles per hour and have fun.

“This game is short. Your attitude carries over to the team. There’s a lot of time when a team’s down you put your head down. I hate that. Even if we’re down we’re going to fight until the end. That’s what it’s all about, having that band of brothers and that attitude and going to, I won’t say ‘war,’ but going out there and battling together.”

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, Bears fans!

One word that surfaced from multiple players during offseason sessions was “hungry.” That was not something that was heard even as recent as last season despite the change in coaches. Without that as a starting attitude, mediocrity was not surprising in recent seasons.

“I think with this group the thing that kind of stands out is just how good a group a group of guys it is, and how important football is to them,” said quarterback Jay Cutler.

“I think you look at OTAs and you look at minicamp and you saw how competitive offense and defense and even special teams were. There weren’t any days where guys were laying off of it. Every single day, guys were getting after it trying to get better, and the competition level I felt was extremely high for being in OTAs and minicamp. Whether that’s gonna translate to wins, I guess we’ll have to wait and see.”

Bears open 2016 training camp with Pernell McPhee, two others on PUP list

Bears open 2016 training camp with Pernell McPhee, two others on PUP list

The 2015 Bears training camp began with rookie wide receiver Kevin White hampered by what would eventually become a season-ending stress fracture of his leg. The 2016 Bears will have White back in uniform but they will start training camp without one of the linchpins of their defense, placing rush-linebacker Pernell McPhee on the physically unable to perform list after he had offseason surgery on his left knee and did not participate in on-field work through final OTA’s and minicamp.

Additionally, the Bears announced that recently signed guard Amini Silatolu, coming off ACL surgery surgery, will also open camp on PUP, along with wide receiver Marquess Wilson, who injured his foot during organized team activities last month.

McPhee, the primary free-agency signing by GM Ryan Pace last offseason, was third on the Bears with six sacks but played a decreasing percentage of defensive sacks as last season wore on. He was deactivated for the St. Louis and Washington games, returned but played no more than 27 snaps in any of the final three games.

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, Bears fans!

The Bears worked to have him drop upwards of 10 pounds after playing last season at his then-customary mid-280s. That part of the program for McPhee was a success.

“He came in [at] a really good weight right now, really good shape right now,” Pace said. “We just got to acclimate himself into football activities so he’ll work with the trainers. … I know he’s been working hard over the summer so that’s very encouraging. And really in the OTAs, he wasn’t doing a lot of football stuff. He was doing stuff more on the side with our strength and conditioning coaches.”

McPhee is unlikely to play in preseason games although the Bears will not make that decision until closer to the start of games.

Bears QB Jay Cutler: 'You can't' replace Matt Forte

Bears QB Jay Cutler: 'You can't' replace Matt Forte

Jay Cutler spent his first seven seasons in Chicago with Matt Forte lined up behind him, but his eighth one will be a little bit different.

The 33-year-old quarterback reported to training camp in Bourbonnais on Wednesday knowing Forte isn't on his side anymore and knows it will take a collective effort to help ease the loss of a two-time Pro Bowler.

"You can't," Cutler responded when asked how you replace Forte. "Just his knowledge and him being here for so long and experience on the field, experience playing with me. Most times I didn't have to tell him something, I just look at him and he knew exactly what I was thinking, so you can't replace him.

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, Bears fans!]

"We've got a good group of young backs that we're going to develop and we're going to put as much time as we can into those guys, and they'll get there. It's a good group, it's a talented group, so we're still excited about what we have."

With the departure of Forte, Cutler knows he's become one of the most experienced players on the team, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

"I was looking at the roster weeks ago and I feel like there's been a major shift in experience, especially on the offensive side," Cutler said. "I'm at 11 (seasons in the NFL) and then you look down, there's a couple 9s, a couple 8s and then mostly it's five and under, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

"I think a new town, new guys in the building is new energy, new attitude, so I've embraced it, I've enjoyed it. I think the coaching staff has done a great job of getting all these young guys up to speed. It's a good group right now."

Check out the video of Cutler's interview from training camp above.