Rutgers junior overcomes disability to pursue playing career
Every once in a while, one finds beneath the surface of the sports world a story of a person excelling as an athlete despite a physical limitation.
For junior Lindsay Kayati, epilepsy is the physical limitation that poses a challenge for her as a member of the Rutgers tennis team.
Epilepsy entails that a person often sustains repeated seizures as a result of disturbed brain activity, which in turn causes a change in behavior.
Head coach Ben Bucca described the challenges of managing Kayati during practices, saying he has to always be certain his player takes her medicine to prevent epileptic episodes.
“She manages it, but it is a struggle [for her] at times,” Bucca said.
While it must be a challenge to manage the effects of the disease while playing tennis at a collegiate level, Kayati is now in her third season with the Scarlet Knights and doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.
Instead of wilting, succumbing and limiting herself, Kayati remains strong and has markedly improved her game since entering Rutgers as a freshman.
“She is a very strong competitor, able to play high-quality tennis,” Bucca said. “She has an all-around game with no weaknesses. She hits the ball harder this year in terms of serves and forehands.”
Kayati finds there is a polarizing effect to having epilepsy, citing the positives and the negatives of the malady.
“The good and bad parts of epilepsy is that no one really knows I have epilepsy unless I tell or have a seizure, so that’s a good thing,” said Kayati. “The bad part is that not everyone knows what to do if I have a seizure. I also don’t think people realize how much I struggle to do things that everyone else can do without any problems. For example, the medicine I take to prevent the seizures impairs my cognitive skills, so I have to study twice as much as a normal student.”
In addition to speaking about the benefits and detriments of living with epilepsy while attending college, Kayati also revealed how the medicine she takes each day affects her ability to lead a normal life.
“There are many days where the medicine makes me so sleepy,” she said. “It’s hard to get out of the bed and have a productive day, but I still need to do that.”
For Kayati, each day she is surrounded by many people who do not know the proper procedure for taking care of someone who has come down with a seizure.
But her teammates are always willing to help her in any way.
“They have learned what to do if I need help and they are always there when I need them,” Kayati said.
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