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

Kris Bryant’s MVP performance leads Cubs to comeback win at Dodger Stadium

Kris Bryant’s MVP performance leads Cubs to comeback win at Dodger Stadium

LOS ANGELES – The “MVP! MVP! MVP!” chants started at Dodger Stadium late Friday night, Cubs fans celebrating Kris Bryant’s two-run homer in the 10th inning and cheering on this entertaining comeback win.

Until Clayton Kershaw returns to full strength, stares down hitters from 60 feet, six inches and unleashes his entire arsenal, it’s impossible to know how the Cubs would stack up against Los Angeles in October. But it’s still safe to say this would be an epic playoff matchup between two big-market, star-studded franchises, with two iconic ballparks becoming the backdrop, celebrity row after celebrity row.

As a quiet homebody who happens to have his own billboards and marketing deals – but doesn’t do bulletin-board quotes or brag about his game – Bryant is not exactly a Hollywood personality. But this is also a goal-oriented individual who doesn’t shy away from the pressure and the expectations and absolutely wants to be the best at his craft.

The Cubs won this round with Bryant, who launched his 34th and 35th home runs in a 6-4 victory, an MVP-worthy season becoming the sequel to his Rookie of the Year campaign.

“It’s humbling,” Bryant said. “You grow up hearing that kind of stuff on TV. To experience it in real life is pretty cool.”

It became hard to hear Bryant inside the visiting clubhouse, because teammates chanted “MVP!” and sung along with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre as “Nuthin But a G Thang” played on the sound system. But for most of the night, it looked like it would be a silent room postgame as the resilient Dodgers took 3-1 and 4-2 leads.

Until the eighth inning, when Bryant launched a home run off Joe Blanton that landed in the center-field seats blocked off for the batter’s eye. And then the ninth inning showed why manager Joe Maddon will want Gold Glove outfielder Jason Heyward in a playoff lineup.

In the middle of a frustrating offensive season where he’s felt the weight of a $184 million contract, Heyward led off by ripping a double into the right-field corner off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. Heyward hustled to third base when new Dodgers catcher Carlos Ruiz couldn’t handle strike three against Jorge Soler. Heyward ran home to score the game-tying run when a Jansen wild pitch sailed toward the backstop.

That set the stage for Bryant, who brought up the fielding error he made in the fifth inning during his postgame interview on Channel 7 after hitting the game-winning homer off lefty Adam Liberatore. All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo may set the tone in the clubhouse, but Bryant already brings tunnel vision and a high degree of professionalism to an 82-45 team, even at the age of 24. 

“He just doesn’t quit,” Heyward said. “He wants to be in every spot. He goes up there and has his at-bat – and that’s it.

“You can talk about why he’s been hitting the ball well, this and that, but he has a good approach. It’s that simple. Other than that, he works his tail off every day to try and go out there and help us win.

“When you have that gift – and you have that work ethic – the bottom line is a lot of good things can happen.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

A resourceful $250 million team won’t fade away, even with Kershaw (back) not pitching for two months, one of 27 players the Dodgers have stashed on the disabled list, tying a major-league record. Los Angeles has cycled through 14 different starting pitchers, relying on depth, a powerful lineup and a strong bullpen to surge into first place and hold onto a one-game lead over the San Francisco Giants in the National League West.

“How about last year?” Maddon said. “We beat up on the Mets during the season, we go (into the playoffs) and we can’t even touch them. It’s such a different animal. People get hot or people get cold.

“I’m not going to diminish the fact I’m going to be paying attention. But things change. Trends can be so trendy, to quote Yogi. So I don’t get too far ahead, because things can change very quickly.”

Like Bryant going from a promising player with a few holes in his swing who looked worn down at times last season – to an MVP frontrunner with a .303 average, 89 RBI, 107 runs scored, a .982 OPS and the versatility to play third base, defensively shift across the infield and move to the outfield.

Kershaw vs. Bryant would be must-see TV in October.

In the Gym at EFT: Wide receiver skill development

In the Gym at EFT: Wide receiver skill development

In the first edition of EFT Football Academy, TF North graduate Landon Cox, who was a star wide receiver at Northern Illinois and later in the NFL, shares some tips on how to become a better receiver and be more efficient on the field.

Cox is a Performance Specialist and wide receiver coach at EFT. In this segment Cox works on a few different techniques with Warren Township junior wide receiver Micah Jones.

EFT has evolved into the premier elite performance training facility in the Midwest, where every EFT football coach has NFL experience and the dedication to helping each player reach their potential. The EFT Football Academy is designed to assist in the development of grade school, high school, and collegiate football players.

Some of their off-season training experience includes 70+ active NFL athletes, six Super Bowl Champions, six Olympics, and more.

[MORE: High School Lites Football Roundup: Week 1]

In addition, performance includes explosive power development, positional movement pattern development, proper spring and change of direction mechanics, and more. Every EFT workout focuses on improving each athlete's overall abilities like speed development, agility and mobility, acceleration and deceleration, and strength and condition — just to name a few.

Former Bears wide receiver Devin Hester called it "the best workout in the world."

Watch Cox's tips in the video above, and be sure to look out for next week's edition on CSNChicago.com.

How Mike Montgomery fits into big-picture plans for Cubs

How Mike Montgomery fits into big-picture plans for Cubs

LOS ANGELES – In their never-ending search for young pitching, the Cubs discussed a Matt Moore deal with the Tampa Bay Rays, but wouldn’t consider trading Kyle Schwarber. To get Moore at the Aug. 1 deadline, the San Francisco Giants had to surrender the runner-up to Kris Bryant in last season’s National League Rookie of the Year race (Matt Duffy), plus two more prospects.

Moore finished one out short of a no-hitter on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium, throwing 133 pitches against a deep Los Angeles lineup, two-plus years after having Tommy John surgery on his left elbow. Whether or not Moore helps shift the balance of power in the National League West, the Cubs should still have enough pitching.

To get through October. As long as John Lackey (shoulder) comes off the disabled list in early September and the rest of the rotation stays healthy. Surviving next season and beyond could be a different story, if Jake Arrieta becomes another team’s 2018 Opening Day starter, if Jon Lester breaks down in the middle of that $155 million megadeal and assuming Lackey finally retires around the 3,000-inning mark.

All that makes Mike Montgomery an interesting lefty swingman if the Cubs are going to maintain The Foundation for Sustained Success.

“I think he is a major-league starter, regardless of what happens tonight,” manager Joe Maddon said before Friday’s wild 6-4 comeback win that took 10 innings at Dodger Stadium. “This guy has the ability to be a solid major-league starter based on his strength level, his delivery, the variety of pitches that he throws. The strike-throwing ability is exceptional. He’s got all those different things going on.

“Just be a little bit patient with (him) and let him get his feet on the ground somewhere, because he’s the kind of guy that can take off if he gets comfortable in his environment.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

If Montgomery didn’t ace this audition, he also didn’t bomb against a first-place team in front of a big crowd (48,609), either, showing the potential the Cubs saw in making last month’s trade with the Seattle Mariners.

Montgomery kept the Cubs in the game before Bryant’s clutch performance, allowing three runs in five innings and minimizing the damage on a night where he didn’t have pinpoint control (four walks, hit batter, wild pitch, 49 strikes across 91 pitches).

The Cubs are in trouble if Montgomery somehow winds up in this year’s playoff rotation, but he checks a lot of boxes for the future as someone with youth (27), size (6-foot-5), first-round/top-prospect pedigree, a high groundball rate and a service-time clock that won’t make him a free agent until after the 2021 season.