Husky Mailbag

Feb. 22, 2005

Junior Kayla Burt has overcome long odds and many doubters to become notonly the Huskies inspirational leaders on the basketball court, but one oftheir best players. Kayla recently had a chance to sit down and answer somefan mail. See what Kayla had to say about returning to action after herheart condition and many more subjects raised by fans.

Will you be able to play even though you broke your nose? I hope it feelsbetter!
Erin, Edmonds, Wash.
Kayla Burt: 'I will be able to play. I just got fitted for a maskyesterday (Feb. 16) and it will be in tomorrow, so I'll have a nice facemaskto wear on Saturday.'

What was it like when you got hurt? Did you think you would ever beplaying basketball again?
Erin, Boise, Idaho
Kayla Burt: 'Never. Initially when I was first diagnosed with Long QTthey basically told me I'd never play again and I had to accept that andmove on. So originally my thoughts were that I had to accept my new role inlife and the next chapter and that was to move on from basketball. Soinitially I never thought that I would play again.'

How hard was it to come back and adjust to playing with so many differentplayers than you played with before?
Amy, Everson, Wash.
Kayla Burt: 'It was hard. I feel like a freshman again. Just having torelearn what it is like to play again. You take two years off from collegebasketball and that's a big chunk of time. I had learned how to play againbasically with my new teammates. They've helped me tremendously andhopefully I've helped them too.'

How has the experience you went through changed you as a person?
Bill T., Everett, Wash.
Kayla Burt: 'It's changed every aspect of my life. It's changed the wayI view everyday life, the way I play, my relationships with other people. Ithink that everything it could possibly change, it did change. Theperspective that I have gained through what happened to me I hope that Icarry for the rest of my life.'

How difficult was it for you to maintain your aerobic conditioning duringyour rehab?
Darren, Richland, Wash.
Kayla Burt: 'It was crazy, because I never thought that I would playagain. So I was just playing open gym for fun, not doing anything toostrenuous because I never really knew what I could and couldn't do. I wasjust playing for fun, nothing too serious. When it became apparent that Icould possibly play again I tried to get back into that shape. But I didn'teven know until August, almost September, that I was playing again andthat's about a month before regular season practice starts, so I didn't havea lot of time to get into great basketball shape. That's probably been oneof the hardest things: maintaining great basketball shape, but it'ssomething I've continued to work on. Hopefully even next year, I'll be inbetter basketball shape.'

Just wondering if you ever get tired of answering questions about yournear-death experience, rather than questions about your outstandingall-around basketball skills?
Tom McKenna, Lake Forest, Calif.
Kayla Burt: 'Sometimes. But the thing for me that I've had to realize isthat it is such an amazing story. I don't blame the people that have askedme the questions for asking me them because I realize that it's such a rarestory and such a great story. For me, just to be able to share that isinspiring. There are times when I don't feel like it and when it gets reallyold, but I try to do the best I can with answering peoples questions becauseI realize how special it is.'

What does it take to compete at the collegiate level?
Braden C., Edmonds, Wash.
Kayla Burt: 'It's tough. Especially with the Pac-10 this year and everyteam being good. We know every single night that we have got to come out andbring our best game because teams are gunning for us and we are gunning forthem. But to compete at the collegiate level is amazing. I'm a verycompetitive person and I think for a competitive person this is the bestplace to be.'

I was wondering what you do to get pumped up before games? Also why doyou wear No. 20?
Madison, Issaquah, Wash.
Kayla Burt: 'What gets me pumped up is the fact that I'm actuallyplaying another game. I get so pumped up for every game that I want to getout here hours before the game and just shoot. I just can't stop thinkingabout it, I'm going 100 miles per hour. Just the fact knowing that I have agame I get pumped up.

'The reason I wear number 20 is that it wasn't my first choice. I was number22 my whole life but when I got to the UW Loree Payne was number 22, so Ihad to pick another number and 20 was the next best number I could think of.There was no particular reason. Twenty-two was my dad's number all growingup. My brother and I, we wanted to be just like dad and have the samenumber. So ever since I was five I've had 22At your road game versus UCLA, I made a sign for you and brought it toPauley Pavilion. I was wondering if that had any impact on you having acareer night in points and rebounds?
GT, Los Angeles, Calif.
Kayla Burt: 'I think I remember who that was! That sign was awesome, soof course that was the reason I played so well. I think one of the usherscame over and said they couldn't have signs so that is why they had to takeit down, so I think he was kind of upset. But you can tell him that is thereason why I had such a good game.'

What's been your most memorable moment as a Husky Hoops player?
Alex, Centralia, Wash.
Kayla Burt: 'I have a couple. Probably the first game I came back toafter getting out of the hospital, nine days after my cardiac arrest weplayed Arizona State and absolutely wasted them. I was on the bench and itwas a very emotional night for me and very memorable. Also my first gameback this year, just the fact that it was no longer a dream that I washaving and I was playing. It was a reality.'

Do you have any advice for a 6-foot, 3-inch freshman at Mt. Tahoma thatwants to play professionally?
Sabrina S., Tacoma, Wash
Kayla Burt: 'With that type of height, just keep working on your gamedown low, remain solid and try to stay healthy. What matters the most isyour attitude towards the game, that you just continue to work hard at whatyou want to do and don't ever give up when someone tells you that you can'tdo something.' .

Do you think that you will be a coach at the Division 1 level someday.Or do you even want to coach?
Joel, Seattle, Wash.
Kayla Burt: 'That is exactly what I want to do as soon as I am donehere. That is my goal is to become a Division 1 basketball coach, maybe nota head coach right away but work my way up someday. That is what I want todo.'

Whats your favorite food and song?
Shelby, Brier, Wash.
Kayla Burt: 'I like every type of food except for spicy foods. My idealmeal would be lasagna, caesar salad and garlic bread-love that. I like allkinds of music, I like Tim McGraw, I like Christian music and countrymusic.'

When you have spare time, what do you usually do?
Lindsey, Arlington, Wash.
Kayla Burt: 'Sleep. Spare time is rare and far in between. When we havespare time we don't know what to do with ourselves sometimes because itfeels like we always have something to do. But anytime I have I usuallysleep or hang out with friends, just do anything leisurely that doesn't haveanything to do with basketball.'

What is your favorite TV show?
Clare, Seattle, Wash.
Kayla Burt: 'Right now I am kind of stuck on the Newlyweds on MTV. Ilove watching them every Wednesday night and I have recently gotten stuck onAmerican Idol. Those are my favorites right now.'

In high school, how did you manage your time between other activities?
Whitney W., Lanley, Wash.
Kayla Burt: ' High School was very fun for me, I grew up in kind of asmaller town. I played two sports consistently and tried three. I playedsoccer and basketball and I loved them both. High School was a lot of funsocially and managing different sports. A lot easier to manage two sportsthan it ever would be here in college. Just going from school to practiceand then home. I had a great career in high school and sometimes I wish Icould go back.'

What do you want to do after your basketball career is over?
Tim, Seattle, Wash.
Kayla Burt: 'Hopefully have a family someday and coach.'

Who is the best player you've played with or against in your career atUW?
Ashley, Tacoma, Wash.
Kayla Burt: 'I think the best player I have ever played with isGiuliana Mendiola. I think a lot of people would say that. She is just themost consistent player I have ever played with at all parts of the game. Shewalks the talk and she expected a lot of her teammates. We have been sosuccessful here at UW because we had such a good leader. She has been thebest player I have played with and against. Nicole Powell comes to mind fromStanford. Shauntanice Cole, those girls are great and are going to havegreat careers at the next level.'

Hi Kayla! It's great to see you out there playing again! If you werecoaching a youth age team, how would you keep the athletes motivated andkeep it fun? Thanks!
Adam C., Marysville, Wash.
Kayla Burt: 'I think with young kids you have to keep the game funbecause a lot of times they get disinterested with structure and discipline.I think they lose interest at such a young age. Obviously with coaching ayoung team you want to make it fun but at the same time you want to teachthem things that they can carry with them through their years of athletes.How would I make it fun? You have to mix things up in a practice and do somefun things in between some of the not so fun things. I think the biggestthing as a coach is remain consistent and teach the best way you can and thebest way the kids will accept it.'

Who's you favorite WNBA player?
Shelby, Briar, Wash.
Kayla Burt: 'I really like Lauren Jackson from the Storm. She isconsistent and she is a big girl. She does all the little things. Sue Birdas well, she is an amazing point guard. We both broke our nose so right nowshe is my favorite player.'

What caused you to be the player you are today and what was yourmotivation to play basketball?
Brittani, Maple Valley, Wash.
Kayla Burt: 'Growing up I was always a soccer player first. I didn'tknow I was trying to run away with basketball. I think what caused me to bethe player I am today is all of the things I have been through. I look ateverything I do as such a great experience and I am so happy to doeverything, even the things that aren't fun like running in practice.Everything is nothing I ever expected. I take things seriously on the court,but I don't let the game of basketball affect who I am as a person.'

You are an awesome player and an inspiration to many people I knowincluding me. My questions are which arena is your favorite to play in(besides Hec Ed.)? And if you could live in any decade which would it be?
Andy, LaGrande, Ore.
Kayla Burt: 'My favorite arena to play in is Mac Court besides Hec Ed.The atmosphere of that gym, its loud in there, the lighting is a littledimmer. It's just my favorite place to play in, it's amazing. For a decadesometimes I wish I could go back to the 80's. It seems like it was a lot offun, with the neon colors and the crazy music. I guess I have lived in thatone so if I had to pick another one it would be the 70's.'

Who was your favorite ever strength coach?
Michelle, Shoreline, Wash.
Kayla Burt: 'Michelle of course. Michelle I miss you, you need to comeback and see us more.'

What is the best part of playing Husky women's basketball?
Jackie S., Kirkland, Wash.
Kayla Burt: 'The experience and the coaches here at UW are so positive.We have a great facility and a great gym here. The fans rank number one inthe Pac-10 in attendance. It's a great atmosphere and we have great fans.'

Who or what is the most important thing in your life?
Shelby, Briar, Wash.
Kayla Burt: 'My faith in God. Just being able to serve God and realizethis opportunity I have to play is so amazing and He has given me anopportunity to do great things. I think my job is to glorify Him and justcontinue to reach out to people. My family and friends, those are the peopleI will have forever when all else fails. Those people will remain wheneverything else goes away.'

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