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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' offense touts a new identity whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts

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USA TODAY

Bears' offense touts a new identity whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts

When the Bears hired Matt Nagy, they were getting a disciple of the West Coast offense as evolved under one of its foremost practitioners in Andy Reid. What they got when Nagy secured Mark Helfrich as his offensive coordinator was a proponent of the spread offense as practiced by the high-speed Oregon Ducks.

Now what they are developing, based on their respective ideas laid out this week, is an offense that may defy simple descriptors as it incorporates two different systems. But rather than appearing to lack a clear identity, the meshing of schemes projects to be something that is at the same time neither, and both. The result in fact projects to something new, and for a football team in need of some kind of breakthrough on offense and something to actually occasionally confound opposing defenses, that is a very, very good thing.

That was axiomatic in Helfrich’s appeal for Nagy, with both inclined to push stylistic envelopes. “As you could tell from some of the things we did in Kansas City offensively, we were trying to be a little bit out of the box and new wave type of stuff,” Nagy said.

Not that just throwing together ideas ensures anything, good or bad. But from a defensive dean who knows something about the difficulty of going against new concepts, the chances of creating a dangerous hybrid that gets a jump on and forces defensive adjustments are there.

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio faced the Oregon offense while he was on the staff at Stanford. It was a problem for him. “They had an ‘X and O’ advantage but [also] a method advantage that people hadn’t caught up to yet at that point, and they had good players doing it,” Fangio said on Thursday. “Kind of like back in the ‘90s when we started the zone blitz, and we were ahead of the curve then and we had a lot of success beating teams that possibly had more talent than we did… . At that point the newness was still in their favor.”

That newness has multiple aspects, not all simple to judge at this point.

Under center or shotgun?

Young quarterback Mitch Trubisky is beginning work under his third different offensive staff in three seasons. That didn’t work to the benefit of Jay Cutler (although Cutler was in fact the reason some of those changes happened in the first place), but two things here:

One is that the Trubisky Nagy and Helfrich are inheriting is one with 12 NFL starts. The one that Dowell Loggains was handed came with 13 college starts, so Trubisky’s starting point is advanced from what it was last year.

And the other is Trubisky’s background is in the spread offense. The incoming offense won’t necessarily be that, but whatever form/forms it takes, Trubisky won’t be spending time just learning to take a direct snap.

Nagy/Helfrich also come into a quarterback imbued with the importance of ball security. Despite seeing NFL defenses for the first times, Trubisky’s INT rate of 2.1 percent was only a few ticks higher than that of his entire college career (1.7 percent). Helfrich said that one thing that jumped out about Trubisky “is his accuracy and taking care of the football.”

But Trubisky will again be tasked with learning something dramatically different from what he’d had the year before, being coached into him by three former quarterbacks. “Teaching” will involve a strategy as well as specific tactics: “You have to get in their corner at the beginning, challenge them like heck until that first snap,” Helfrich said, “and get them thinking about as little as possible at the snap.”

Personnel considerations

GM Ryan Pace didn’t plan on making a massive coaching makeover this time last year. But he could scarcely have drafted more accurately for what his team’s offense will be if he’d set out to staff it.

The West Coast and Oregon’s offense make extensive use of tight ends and running backs as receivers. Besides quarterback Trubisky, Pace’s second-round pick last draft was Adam Shaheen, a pass-catching tight end. His fifth-round pick was Tarik Cohen, whose 53 pass receptions ranked second on the Bears and tied for 11th among running backs. (Seven of the 10 ahead of him were components of playoff teams.)

Coincidentally, Pace invested a third-round pick in his first (2015) draft on Oregon center Hroniss Grasu, the starting center for Helfrich and Chip Kelly. Notably, of the 20 offensive linemen on Helfrich’s 2014 Oregon team, only one was listed at bigger than 300 pounds. Even guard Kyle Long the year before played at 300 pounds, going eventually up to 330 with the Bears.

All of which points to the Bears already having myriad pieces in place for what Nagy and Helfrich are designing. Reid himself was a tackle under LaVell Edwards at BYU, another of the crucibles where the West Coast principles were forged, and Nagy comes from the Reid school with an understanding of O-line physiology that works.

Same with Helfrich, who succeeded Chip Kelly as Oregon coach and watched with great interest what Kelly did in the NFL, what worked and what didn’t. Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles put up consecutive 10-6 seasons before he flamed out and did it running plays at a pace considerably faster than the NFL norm. Not all of his concepts worked, however, and won’t be coming to Halas Hall with Helfrich.

“The biggest difference is literally size and plays,” Helfrich said. “Size of squad and plays in a game. College football, you can run however many plays you want almost – 80 or 90. At the NFL level, that’s not going to happen. You cannot practice like you do in college in the NFL. 53-man roster. Limitations. All those things… . There are a lot of things that we learned from that. And there are a lot of good things they did as well.”

Fire stay busy on draft day, trade David Accam to Philadelphia

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USA TODAY

Fire stay busy on draft day, trade David Accam to Philadelphia

The dominoes continue to fall on the Fire's offseason, and seem to be doing so at an increasing pace.

After making two trades on draft day, the blockbuster move of the day broke after the first round completed. As first reported by Paul Tenorio and later announced at the draft, the Fire traded winger David Accam to Philadelphia for $300,000 in General Allocation Money and $900,000 in Targeted Allocation Money. The $1.2 million total is among the biggest allocation money trades in league history.

The move will have major implications on 2018 due to Accam's production since joining the Fire in 2015, but also because it likely is a move to set up other moves. Accam had his best year with the Fire in 2017 with 14 goals and eight assists while only making 24 starts (30 appearances in total).

However, he had voiced his displeasure about being left off the All-Star Game roster by coach Veljko Paunovic, saying he was "disappointed my coach ignored me." Accam seemed to be appeased when the Fire picked up his option for 2018 in August. With his contract situation somewhat more sorted out, it appeared Accam may still have a future with the Fire despite having previously stated a desire to return to Europe at some point in his career.

While the move is a big one for Philadelphia in getting a player like Accam, the Fire likely aren't done. This is typically not the type of move that is made without another move in mind. Juan Quintero rumors continue to float around with the Fire and Argentine club River Plate both being mentioned as possible landing places for the Colombian international who has scored at a World Cup.

With Accam leaving, the Fire have an open spot for a Designated Player. Nemanja Nikolic and the recently re-signed Bastian Schweinsteiger are the two DPs on the roster.