Burt's Teammates Excited For Her Return To The Court

Aug. 17, 2004

by Mike Bruscas, UW Media RelationsAs Kayla Burt answered questions about her return to the basketball court, a common thread to her responses was the support and strength of her teammates. The Huskies were out in full force to share in what Burt called a 'celebration,' and afterwards discussed the impact Burt's comeback would have both on the court and off.Junior Kristen O'Neill knows the fighting spirit of Burt better than anyone, having played against her in high school before teaming up as Huskies. 'The last year and a half have been pretty incredible,' said O'Neill. 'It's incredible that Kayla's coming back but she is an incredible person and I'm really happy to be able to play with her again.'Concerns about Burt's safety are sure to remain but O'Neill disputes any skepticism about the wisdom of Burt's choice. 'It's understandable how people who don't have all the information feel like this could be an irresponsible decision,' O'Neill said. 'But we have been right by her side and know everything she's been through, and know how she has worked with some of the best doctors in the country. 'Those of us that know Kayla, if anyone can do it, it's her. So I support her 100 percent and I know that everyone here at the University of Washington, especially her coaches and teammates, do as well.'Sophomore Erica Schelly and junior Nicole Castro are the other two remaining women who played alongside Burt during her last action on the court. Now that the announcement has been made, Schelly is looking forward to getting back to playing basketball with the team united again.'We've kind of been expecting it for a while now so this is just the day that kind of celebrates it,' said Schelly. 'It just feels right. Now that we know she's coming back we can focus on what we're going to do this season. We're going to have a lot of fun.'As far as the level of play fans can expect from Burt, Castro is a believer. 'She'll be even better,' she says. 'Kayla has been a leader on our team for as long as she's been here, and I think the leadership she brings every day is pretty evident to the team, it will just keep getting better.' No matter how many points Burt nets, her inspiration is just as important. Says Castro, 'It means a lot more than just basketball.'O'Neill empathizes with Burt on the difficulty of watching the team from the sidelines, since a stress fracture in her foot forced her to redshirt last season. But with Burt's return, O'Neill is excited about the prospect of having two full years left playing with her friend.'I can't think of a better way to finish my career here at UW. She and I would talk about coming back together when we were both on the sidelines last year,' says O'Neill. 'It's tough when the game's taken away from you like that and we both realize that there's way more to life than just basketball, but just being able to finish out our dream and finish our careers together is going to be unforgettable.'

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