Paul M. Banks has an exclusive discussion with Comcast Sports Net’s Sarah Kustok.
You’ve undoubtedly seen the DePaul graduate on TV covering the Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, and Chicago Bulls. She’s had the opportunity to cover a lot of high profile playoff games in multiple sports, and after the jump she’ll tell us all about her amazing experiences, as well as her own backstory.
PAUL M. BANKS: We can start by discussing our shared roots: Palos/Orland Township, about an hour southwest of Chicago. You had a very accomplished prep career in the SICA conference at Carl Sandburg high school. Please tell our readers about your athletic achievements…
SARAH KUSTOK: I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of my experience at Sandburg High School and feel proud to have been a part of teams filled with so many reputable coaches and unforgettable teammates. These days I’m not sure many care to hear me relive the glory days of some of the athletic achievements I was fortunate enough to earn during high school, but I will say that winning a State Championship in volleyball my junior year and taking 4th Place in State for basketball my sophomore year were by far the greatest achievements. All the individual accolades were special but none as important as those I was lucky enough to share with my teammates and friends.
PMB: Well, being an Amos Alonzo Stagg High School alum, I could probably do without hearing some Sandburg glory stories. Kidding of course, but rivalries are rivalries. So, later at DePaul, your basketball career earned you a permanent place in the Blue Demons’ record book. How did those collegiate experiences prepare you for your gig now at Comcast Sports Net? Also please tell us about your work with Fox and ESPN prior to your assuming the Comcast position…
SK: The years I spent playing basketball at DePaul have been – and still continue to be – such an integral part of developing my character and attitude towards my television career and everyday life. In my job, as well as what so many others face in other careers across the board…the ability to chase after dreams…strive to be your best self…never be satisfied…learn how to fall, fail, and always pick yourself up…soak up the amazing moments along with the challenging ones…never ever give up…whatever it is that fuels passion in your heart, make it happen. I think though more than anything, it helped me to realize that no matter what goals you do or do not reach, sharing experiences in this life with family, friends and those you love is what the adventure is all about.
And…to go through every step between being a DePaul basketball player to this position at Comcast SportsNet is one that was an adventure in itself. It involved taking time out to be an assistant coach for Doug Bruno at DePaul…working my way from a production runner for ESPN’s college football and basketball games to reporting from the sideline and being a color analyst…doing various free-lance and fill-in sports anchor work for Fox here in Chicago…sideline reporting for the Chicago Fire…and many many other great opportunities as well. Needless to say, I couldn’t be happier than where I’m at right now.
PMB: Yep, going into this field is a pretty sweet gig. I certainly love my job too. Today, you’re a Chicago celebrity due to your reporting at CSN, and you had some national exposure doing NHL work for Versus. Do people often come up to you in public, and if so, what do they bring up?
SK: You are very kind to call me a Chicago celebrity (I still believe I have a long ways to go!), but when people do come up to me in public, it is an absolute pleasure to hear their thoughts on the teams of this great city and all the work we do at CSN. As with any interaction, you never know what you’re going to get…funny, surprising, inspiring, and everything in between! I just hope that when I do get a chance to talk with people they leave with a smile.
PMB: When people ask you where you’re from and about your background, how do you usually describe Chicago, and Orland Park-Palos Park?
SK: No doubt I’m biased but I’ve traveled quite a bit and I still believe that Chicago is the best city there is! Orland Park included…my parents still live there so I visit all the time. It’s a wonderful place.
PMB: I couldn’t agree more! (although I would swap Orland Park with Palos Heights) It would take something really special and unique to get me to leave this town. And your brother Zak, one of the most accomplished QBs in Northwestern history. How was life growing up with him, and what’s he been up to you after football?
SK: I was the luckiest. I believe I have learned more, laughed more, risked more, and become more than I ever could hope for because of him. He not only was patient enough to always let his little sister tag along with him, but has been my biggest supporter and best friend through it all. These days, Zak is in spinal device sales with NuVasive and lives in Chicago with his wife, Nicole.
SK: I think I might be one of the last people around that isn’t on Facebook…or Twitter for that matter! One of these days I’ll catch up with the pace of technology. It is really special though that people are kind enough to start a page. I assume that means if I do join Facebook they would be my friends I hope!
PMB: Finally, if Hollywood made a movie of your life, the actress playing you would be…
SK: Well, now we’re really stretching our imaginations…but as long we’re pretending…I’d say Charlize Theron. She’s my favorite.