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

Brewers jump on John Lackey early as Cubs fall in Milwaukee

Brewers jump on John Lackey early as Cubs fall in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE – Cubs fans took over Miller Park again on Saturday night, booing Ryan Braun when he stepped into the batter’s box, wearing Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant and Darwin Barney jerseys and chanting “Let’s go, Cubbies!” over and over again.

Big Boy Game? Eh, not so much for John Lackey, the two-time World Series champion the Cubs imported to anchor their playoff rotation and give the clubhouse some much-needed edge. Not when it’s late July and the Milwaukee Brewers are near the ground floor of a full-scale rebuild.

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

But the Brewers haven’t sold off All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy yet, the rush from Dexter Fowler’s return to the top of the lineup wore off and Lackey made enough mistakes during a 6-1 loss in front of another sellout crowd (44,643) this weekend.

Lucroy hammered Lackey’s 93-mph fastball off a second-deck advertisement in left-center field for a two-out, two-run homer in the first inning. Kirk Nieuwenhuis homered leading off the fourth inning and the Cubs didn’t put any real pressure on the Brewers, even with Lackey’s first quality start since June 30.

[RELATED: Cubs ready to activate Joe Nathan, but is that enough for this bullpen?]  

Cubs fans started heading toward the exits in the eighth inning after Mike Montgomery – the high-upside lefty Theo Epstein’s front office acquired in advance of the Aug. 1 trade deadline – gave up a three-run homer to Nieuwenhuis that made it a 6-1 beat-the-traffic game.

The Cubs will try to win their third consecutive series coming out of the All-Star break on Sunday afternoon, when Jon Lester (10-4, 2.89 ERA) will start opposite Junior Guerra (6-2, 3.06 ERA).

Late goal dooms Fire to another road loss

Late goal dooms Fire to another road loss

Sean Johnson had made a number of big saves late in Saturday’s match at New England, but one mistake was costly.

Johnson had three saves on well-struck shots in a span of less than two minutes. On a third corner kick during that period of sustained pressure, New England finally got one past the Chicago Fire goalkeeper.

Je-Vaughn Watson headed in a Chris Tierney corner kick in the 85th minute after Johnson came out to punch away the corner and failed to reach it. Johnson totaled 10 saves, but ultimately played a role in New England’s lone goal.

The 1-0 win for New England (6-7-8, 26 points) is a blow to the Fire’s already dwindling playoff hopes. The Revolution, which currently sit in the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, are now nine points ahead of the Fire (4-10-5, 17 points), which remain in last place in the league.

The Fire’s league-record road winless streak trudges on, now at 35, and the team has now lost eight straight away from Toyota Park.

While Johnson was busy making 10 saves, the Fire didn’t register a shot on target. For periods of the second half the Fire had the better of the play and created some chances, but the Revolution’s finishing kick ended up being the difference.

[SHOP: Grab your own Fire home jersey here]

The Fire’s best chance came in the 57th minute when David Accam’s low cross from the left almost resulted in an own goal. Bobby Shuttleworth was able to save the deflection, his only notable action of the night, and then John Goossens missed the bouncing ball on the rebound.

On the CSN+ broadcast, coach Veljko Paunovic was asked early in the second half about any possible tactical changes he might make and Paunovic said he liked how things were going. He backed that up by not making any subs until the 76th minute and only used two in the match.

Paunovic gave a slightly different look defensively with Johan Kappelhof, who has been a staple at centerback, starting at right back. Joao Meira took his place in central defense. Offensively, Michael de Leeuw, David Accam, Kennedy Igboananike and John Goossens started together for the first time.

The Fire return home for a Sunday match against the New York Red Bulls.

Cubs ready to activate Joe Nathan, but is that enough for this bullpen?

Cubs ready to activate Joe Nathan, but is that enough for this bullpen?

MILWAUKEE – It takes some imagination to picture the Cubs surviving three playoff rounds and winning a World Series Game 7 with this bullpen.  

Starting pitcher Jason Hammel looks at rookie right-hander Carl Edwards Jr. and says: “He’s definitely not afraid. He weighs probably 140 pounds and he can attack a ton worth of weight.”

President of baseball operations Theo Epstein trades for lefty Mike Montgomery and looks back on how Andrew Miller reinvented himself with the Boston Red Sox, transforming into an All-Star reliever for the New York Yankees.  

Now the Cubs are banking on a 41-year-old dude who hasn’t pitched in The Show in almost 16 months, trying to make a comeback from a second Tommy John procedure on his right elbow.  

The Cubs will activate Joe Nathan off the 60-day disabled list before Sunday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park, adding a six-time All-Star closer who ranks eighth all-time with 377 career saves.

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

“I do like the names,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Is it enough? I think it is. But you have to consider that with both Edwards and Joe, you would not really push, push, push, either. 

“So you talk about consecutive appearances – or three-out-of-fours – that would be kind of tough to do with these guys. There are different little caveats attached that I have to be careful with (and) not push them too hard.  

“I don’t know if there is enough yet – just based on the ability to use guys based on where they’re coming from physically.”

Epstein made it clear that the Cubs didn’t cut themselves off from bigger deals leading up to the Aug. 1 deadline by packaging two lower-profile minor-league prospects (first baseman Dan Vogelbach and pitcher Paul Blackburn) in the Montgomery deal with the Seattle Mariners.

Epstein has also pointed out that the Cubs won 97 games and two playoff rounds last year while rebuilding their bullpen on the fly, relying on guys like Clayton Richard and Trevor Cahill (who’s rehabbing a knee injury at Triple-A Iowa).

And that you don’t really need an eight-man bullpen for October, because Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester should be pitching deep into games, leaving the high-leverage situations for Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon and whoever else emerges across the next two-plus months.

[RELATED: The next Andrew Miller? Mike Montgomery wants to show what he can do for Cubs bullpen]

Maddon sees the potential for Edwards – who has a 1.93 ERA and 16 strikeouts against four walks through 14 innings – to grow into an even bigger role out of the bullpen. Maybe the Cubs find another grab-bag surprise or two (Brian Matusz, Jack Leathersich) from a minor-league system that lacks premium pitching talent.

“You just don’t know,” Maddon said. “It looks good on paper, but you got to get them out there and play it. From my perspective, for them to be good, I think you can’t push their button too often. You got to hold back.”

Whether or not the Cubs have the trade chips and the appetite to deal with the Yankees or trade for another high-octane reliever, they need to find out what they have in Nathan, who made 11 appearances combined with Iowa and Double-A Tennessee. 

“It sounds like he’s ready to rock and roll,” Maddon said. “We have to see what he looks like, first of all. You hear different things. But I would bet that whatever he’s been throwing, it’s going to be even a little bit more once he gets here with the adrenaline pumping back in the big leagues.”