Live chat with former UW player Kayla Burt
Highlights of a live chat with ex-Washington basketball player Kayla Burt.
Kayla Burt, who suffered cardiac arrest midway through her Washington basketball career, talked about her teammates reviving her, the Huskies and much more Wednesday in a live online chat with readers:
Q: Are you still in touch with your UW teammates who were with you on New Year's Eve when you collapsed?
Burt: Yes, I am in contact with all of them. We have an unspoken bond for sure. Any time you experience an event like we did a bond is created and it will be there the rest of our lives. They're definitely more like sisters to me.
Q: What do you think of new UW coach Kevin McGuff?
Burt: I definitely follow the program and think McGuff is not only a great person but a great fit for this program. He's already done a great job and I'm looking forward to what's to come.
Q: Any interest in coaching again? How did you like that experience?
Burt: I coached at University of Portland for a year and liked it, but didn't love it. I didn't like to do it at the college level. I just finished coaching at West Seattle High School and had a great time. I'm going to be coaching an AAU program this spring with Barbara Berry and the Way to Win program. I'm pumped about it!
Q: Do you think your experience changed your career path from what you may have thought you'd do when you first entered UW?
Burt: What I went through has given me a platform to possibly help other people and raise this awareness of sudden cardiac arrest. At the Hope Heart Institute I work a lot with high-school and college-age kids to remind them that this is actually an epidemic and to be aware of it.
Q: Do you stay in touch with your old coach, June Daugherty?
Burt: Some people may not remember, but five years after my cardiac arrest, June Daugherty also had one. I got the phone call while I was in Portland, packed a bag in five minutes and drove up to see her in the hospital. Our relationship has gone from player-coach to more of a friendship having gone through almost the exact same experience.
Q: How much of a shock was it, or change to your identity, to go from college athlete to not being able to be a competitive athlete?
Burt: It was obviously a huge shock, and for me it felt like I got a great night's sleep and woke up the next day ready for practice surrounded by doctors telling me I would never play again. It's a shock when you feel physically, mentally and emotionally the same. Once I realized the seriousness of what happened, I was most thankful to be alive and knew in that moment my whole life changed.
Q: I read where you're an EMT. Did that come about after what happened to you, or did you have that in mind earlier?
Burt: I get asked that a lot, and in all honesty, I've always been interested in emergency medicine. Any time I get to be active and help people, it's an easy sell for me.
Q: How has your cardiac arrest affected your day-to-day attitude about life?
Burt: I like that you mentioned attitude because I think ultimately attitude is a choice. I always try to be in the moment realizing that in this moment is all I know I'm guaranteed.
Q: How often do you get to do speaking engagements about what happened to you?
Burt: I speak frequently and share my story and would love to connect with you if you're ever looking for a speaker. You can check my work website at www.hopeheart.org and shoot me an email.