Kayla Burt makes impact off court

Arlington's finest lived at home this summer.

With her parents and surrounded by tapes of her television cameos, newspaper accounts of her miraculous life-and-death experience and magazine articles praising the inspirational story that just won't go away.

Just like Kayla Burt, the former University of Washington basketball player and Arlington native, whose heart stopped on New Year's Eve before five teammates and a team of doctors saved her life.

She's been everywhere this summer: speaking and raising money in behalf of the American Heart Association, taking a vacation to Montana, throwing out the first pitch at a Seattle Mariners game, playing pickup basketball games at Edmundson Pavilion, working at the Washington basketball camp and trying to come to grips with the sudden end to her promising career.

"My biggest goal now is to make an impact on other people," Burt said by phone this week, seven months after the episode. "Just to let people know there's more to life than what we think."

Every day someone requests something — an interview, a speaking engagement, an appearance at a charity event — from Kayla Burt. It's been that way for close to seven months now.

There's the American Heart Association, where Burt recruits people and talks to small businesses about the heart walk Sept. 20 at Safeco Field.

There's the UW team, where Burt will take on an expanded role as student coach this season.

Heck, even the higher-ups in the Arlington School District called Burt last week, insisting she come down to the district's new gym to make the first basket.

"She's really pushed herself in the direction of making sure she got out and touched as many lives as she could in a positive way," said June Daugherty, the UW's coach and a Mukilteo resident.

Burt never asked for any of this, of course.

She's 20 years old, and her heart houses a monitoring defibrillator. She's a junior in college who inspires older adults on a daily basis, lighting up a room full of cardiologists like defenders so many times before.

She lost one career, then picked up two others — public speaking and coaching — less than seven months after her heart stopped beating.

"We've come to realize how insignificant everything about playing really was," said Ken Burt, Kayla's father. "I was so consumed by it, and you look back now and think, 'How idiotic.' She's healthy. She's happy. She's alive. I couldn't ask for anything more."

And the support won't stop flowing in. Like the video montage Burt received from a 14-year-old girl that even had music in the background. And the autograph of Desmond Mason, her favorite basketball player, that someone sent all the way from Texas.

So much attention, so consistently, leaves Burt flummoxed when someone doesn't know her story.

"People I haven't seen in a while ask me: 'Are you still playing basketball? Are you going to start next season?' " she said.

Burt's driving again and playing pickup basketball. The word's still out on whether anyone has seen her play defense since the episode, but you can find her at the same spot on the three-point arc, draining threes.

Asked how she's dealing with the magnitude of what happened to her, the appearances on national television shows, the celebrity that accompanies a story such as this one, and Burt pauses.

At least publicly, she says, she never lets it bother her. But there are times — tough times, why-did-this-happen-to-me times — when she wants only to play.

She settles on admitting that she's contradicting herself, emotions playing tug of war beneath the surface.

"I've accepted it and moved on," Burt said. "I realized something has been taken away from me, but so much more is being given. I still think about basketball. But seven months ago, I didn't even know if I'd be alive to watch it.

"The whole experience definitely turned my life around for the better. Sharing my perspective with people helps me get through it."

'He's 100 percent recovered'

Ross Good never had a clue. He knew he was going to see worldwide soccer phenomenon Manchester United take on Celtic at Seahawks Stadium late last month, his first viewing of his favorite team in person.

But meeting manager Alex Ferguson and the Man U players? Good, who nearly one year earlier had been pushed off a seaside wall in Weston-super-Mare in southwestern England on a trip with the Whitman College soccer team, had no idea.

"You should have seen his face," Bill Good, his father said. "That smile, wow, you can tell now he's 100 percent recovered."

The Kamiak High School graduate spent eight days in a coma after his fall. He returned to Whitman last fall, managing the soccer team he used to play for. He returned to England almost two weeks ago to visit the scene and thank everyone who helped him. Good left July 28, the one-year anniversary of the incident.

The best news, though? Doctors have pronounced Good fit to play next season, if he chooses.

"He's been talking about it," Bill Good said. "I would rather he didn't. But chances are he will."

KRKO announces schedule

AM radio station KRKO (1380) announced its schedule this week for high-school-football season. The station uses two teams: one with play-by-play announcer Tom Lafferty, analyst Bill Kusler and sideline reporter Brad Baxter live on game nights. The other consists of play-by-play announcer Mark Aucutt, analyst and Archbishop Murphy coach Terry Ennis and his son, Joe, doing sideline reporting for tape-delayed games.

The second team will start the season Sept. 5, when Cascade plays at Everett. The first team takes over the next day, calling the game between Snohomish and Kamiakin at Seahawks Stadium. Lafferty, the sports director at the station, is entering his 19th season.

Around the county

John Stillings, the 48-year-old coxswain from Edmonds, guided the U.S. men's eight to a gold medal at the 2003 Pan American Games last week.

• The Everett Silvertips, an expansion Western Hockey League team, released a detailed schedule last week. The team will play 72 games, split equally between home and away. The franchise's first game will be on Sept. 19 in Kamloops, B.C. The first home game is on Oct. 4 against Prince George. There are 23 home weekend dates and 11 games against the Seattle Thunderbirds, including six at home.

• Ten athletes and two coaches from Washington were selected to the U.S. National Rowing Team for the 2003 FISA World Rowing Championships from Aug. 24 to 31 in Milan, Italy. Among that group was Sarah Jones, a Stanwood native.

• The Northern Dynamics precision roller-skating team finished third in its national competition last week, qualifying for the 2004 World Roller Sports Championships in Fresno, Calif. The team competes in November in Argentina for this year's world championships.

• They were everywhere, eight Snohomish County medal-winning youths at the National Karate-do Federation National Championships in San Jose, Calif. Troy Hirschkorn, Tyson Morgan, Dana Exum and Erik Morgan qualified for the U.S. junior team that competes in international competitions. The other medalists were Vienna Krumweide, Tommy MacNaughton, Riker Hale and Nicholas Ornella.

Greg Bishop: 206-464-3191 or gbishop@seattletimes.com