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SCOTT BURT, SON OF A POLICE OFFICER, SHARES SPECIAL BOND WITH FIRST RESPONDERS

Thursday, March 24th
SCOTT BURT, SON OF A POLICE OFFICER, SHARES SPECIAL BOND WITH FIRST RESPONDERS

For most Rapid City Rush fans and staff members, this Saturday’s theme of First Responders Night is a way to honor and show appreciation for the men and women who work to keep our community safe. For Rush head coach Scott Burt, it’s something more.

Burt grew up in a first-responder household. His father, Lyle Burt, is a retired Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer.

“Growing up in an RCMP family is almost like [being] an Army brat,” said Burt. “Every five years, we were transferred.”

From the time he was born until he left home at 16 to play in the major junior Western Hockey League, Burt moved three times. His father was transferred a total of five times, ultimately landing in Grand Forks, British Columbia, where he eventually retired and where Burt’s parents now reside

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is the federal and national police service in Canada. Larger cities in Canada may also have local police officers, but in smaller towns, the RCMP is the entirety of the police force.

When Burt speaks about first responders, the influence of his father’s career is obvious. Burt long planned on entering the law enforcement field, but then found success in hockey, first with his 13-year playing career and now as a coach. And everywhere his hockey career has taken him, he seeks out local law enforcement leaders.

“I always have a soft spot for first responders and anything to do with police officers,” Burt said. “I’ve been fortunate. I’ve been on a lot of ride-alongs and have a lot of friends in law enforcement.”

Burt’s stories about the things he’s witnessed on the ride-alongs range from being with the first officer on scene after a drug deal gone bad to accompanying K-9 officers while their dog tracks a suspect.

“It’s pretty chill until you get the call that comes over the CB,” Burt said. “Then your heart starts beating, the cherries go on, and all of a sudden you’re speeding to a call.”

He and his wife, Audrey, have repelled during K-9 training missions. He has been attacked by a dog while wearing a bite suit in a controlled environment. In every community Burt has coached, he has sought out these experiences with local law enforcement and military.

Burt’s interest in ride-alongs is rooted in his family background. He was never able to take one with his father because of regulations, but he did ride along with officers that his father oversaw. His interest only grew while he was playing in the WHL, with the Seattle Thunderbirds, Swift Current Broncos, Edmonton Ice and Red Deer Rebels.

“Playing in the Western Hockey League, they always try to get you in the community and push you outside of hockey,” Burt said. “If hockey doesn’t work out for you professionally, they want to help out. So even when I was playing in Edmonton, we would do ride-alongs. I’ve always grown up around that. It’s pretty cool.”

Burt befriended members of the K-9 unit when he was an assistant coach with the Spokane Chiefs. He played softball with former Boise State football players who became members of the police department in Boise while he was with the Idaho Steelheads. Everywhere his hockey career takes him, first responders become part of his circle.

“It’s an environment similar to what we have in our dressing room,” Burt said. “The family atmosphere. Everyone is there for everyone. Everyone has to be there for everyone. And at the end of the day, that’s what a team is all about.”

Since arriving in Rapid City for his first season as head coach of the Rush, Burt has made a few connections and has a handful of acquaintances who are police officers. But from the time he arrived in the summer leading into the hockey season, his focus has been on the ice. It’s paid off. He has the Rush in position to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2014-15 season.

However, once the season comes to a close and he gets a reprieve from long hours and the rigors of being a head hockey coach, Burt knows what he will be doing to occupy some of his free time.

“When we moved here, everything was in fast forward. Then obviously the season started, and now there is really no time,” Burt said. “But I’m sure throughout the summer, I’ll be on a few ride-alongs.”

First Responders Night, presented by Loyal Plumbing, is on Saturday, March 26, against the Atlanta Gladiators. Discounted tickets for first responders are available in select sections. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at The Monument Ice Arena.

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