White Sox

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

White Sox catching prospect mentioned in some elite company

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USA TODAY

White Sox catching prospect mentioned in some elite company

White Sox catching prospect Zack Collins is being talked about in some elite company after a recent accomplishment.

Collins participated in the Southern League Home Run Derby in Double-A earlier this evening for the Birmingham Barons, and he secured his first career home run derby win.

Now, this is cool, thanks to NBC Sports Chicago’s stats guru Chris Kamka: Dating way back to 1895, Babe Ruth was born on Feb. 6, 1895. Collins was born on the same day as Ruth, but 100 years later.

It’s still way too early to make any sort of comparisons, but it’s a fun way to connect the two.

Collins so far this season is hitting .267 with 9 HR, 33 RBI’s and 59 BB in 62 games. Those walks lead the Southern League. The next highest is 39.

Collins is hitting much better than he did when he was with Single-A Winston-Salem last season. Collins hit a mere .233 in 101 games.

Think about this too. Rick Hahn mentioned several White Sox prospects will get promotions in the coming days. Could this mean Collins will get his opportunity? We’ll just have to wait and see.

 

Glanville: Ready or not, play ball

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USA TODAY

Glanville: Ready or not, play ball

As my career wound down in Major League Baseball, I found myself caddying a lot. Caddying is just what it sounds like, coming in as needed, helping the talent of the future as a mentor or advisor. It also meant that when you do get the chance to start, you may be facing tough assignments that are spaced out inconveniently for you.

As I did in 2004, I faced some tough pitchers often to protect the next generation centerfielder in Marlon Byrd in Philly. I faced a Rolodex of Cy Young award winners that year (Randy Johnson, Tom Glavine, and others) or All-Stars (Brad Radke and so on), and the other starters were reserved for the young buck.

That was then, but how to be ready with so many unknowns is still an important lesson about being prepared for anything that can come at you. And in baseball, anything will come at you.

Like many players who arrive to the big leagues, they have had a lifetime of being every day players. High school, college stars, or even minor league stars, who were always in the lineup. Then, as the air gets thinner, so does the opportunity to be a starter and the more you may learn about life coming off of the bench.

Addison Russell had a surprise entry into the Cubs-Cardinals game the other day after teammate Javier Baez took a pitch off of the elbow. In theory, it was supposed to be Russell’s “day off” so when he made an error in the field, speculation arose from announcer Alex Rodriguez that he may not have been fully prepared. The implication was that he had shut off his mind to enjoy his day off, and was caught off guard.

Only Russell knows how he felt, but after I spent a career in the National League as perennial starter and bench player, there is no such thing as a day off, especially in a lineup under Joe Maddon, which has emphasis on versatility, flexibility and open-mindedness.

If you are on the bench to start a game, there is an understanding that you may get in the game. At least there should be unless, and this has happened to me, the manager tells you that under no circumstance will you be called in the game. Even then, in the back of my mind, should the game go 15 innings, I could hardly be surprised if a promise may have to be broken.

One time, Phillies manager Terry Francona gave me a day off during a season where I ended up playing in 158 games and leading the NL in at bats. He said to me “it looks like the bat is swinging you.” We were out of it in September, so he could sit me and keep me on the bench. The Cubs do not have the luxury of handing out day spa packages, they are in the race, in fact, many days, they are getting chased.

I only played one partial season in the American League and this was with Texas as Alex’s teammate. After years of National League life, the AL was another planet. Players came off the bench only in matchup situations, the rare pinch run or pinch hit, and maybe for defense (other than road interleague play.). The AL does not have the built in bench call because in the NL, the pitcher hits, a circumstance which opens up many ways you can get in the game.

Like Alex, I was spoiled on years of being a starter, so it did take a little time to know how to get ready for the chance you may come in the game. He was a DH later in his career, so he knew when he was hitting, so he could get loose with a plan. If you don’t have that advantage, usually around the fourth inning or some inning before the pitcher is batting, I would start warming up. Some parks are easier than others to do that. Stretch, hit off of the tee, jog somewhere. And you will have to repeat this each inning you are not used, just in case.

What really bites into your preparation is when something happens very early in the game. This is when you could not get into a stretching routine to be ready because of the timing (Baez injury happened in the 3rd) or you could have skipped your typical pre-game warm up to bask in your day off. Sure, being a pro means being ready but being thrust in a game is still pretty jarring.

Then when you age in the game, you don’t have the bandwidth to be stiff on the bench or you may not ever get loose, so you are (or should be) constantly warming up. I learned a lot as a young player watching veterans like Shawon Dunston, Lenny Harris, and others who came off the bench ready to go. We were all a quick turn away from a pulled muscle.

Baseball is a stop and go sport, outside of the elements of surprise of in game injuries or wild substations, you may get hit by weather like the Cubs experienced last night. When is the tarp coming off? Warm up, sit down, warm up, sit down. It is not the best way to be loose, especially when you are 34, but it is always part of any sport that plays outdoors. You have to put the built-in excuses out of your head because there is a role player performing well despite the obstacles.

As an every day player, you often get out of touch with the reality of coming off of the bench and having to perform. It is challenging for any player to come off the bench no matter what the circumstance, which is what makes pinch hitter extraordinaire, Tommy La Stella, an incredible asset. It is one thing to be loose, it is another to hit a guy throwing a 96 mph sinker.

Baseball is a tough game because it depends so much on rhythm while everything is trying to disrupt it. Errors happen, no matter what, even when you are prepared and at your best. And it is ok to recognize that you may not really be loose, which is a natural occurrence over 162 games. You can’t be totally limber every day after long flights and split doubleheader’s while the body is just being the body. Sometimes you are productive playing through it, some times, you are not.

Yet there are a whole host of players who make a career out of their instant utility. Productive players who are not afforded advanced notice all of the time. Every year, these players help win championships (see David Ross.) Coming cold off the bench, going into games when the starter’s hamstring tightens up. Facing closers who throw 100 mph. Pinch running with a tight hamstring. It happens every single day on every single team. They are as important to winning as having an MVP in Kris Bryant, or a brilliant veteran, like Jon Lester.

So let’s take this opportunity to appreciate these players more instead of only noticing them when a starter has to do what these bench players have always done. Being ready on call.