AOY Rewind: Ouchi, Holly using sports lessons to excel as medical professionals
EDITOR’S NOTE: AOY Rewind is a special series of stories catching up with a handful of past Maui News Athletes of the Year. Stories will run periodically throughout the fall in The Maui News.
Dr. Kimmie Ouchi and Bailey Holly, RN.
Both are medical professionals at the front of their fields.
Their Upcountry days in Maui Interscholastic League sports helped them get there, with state championships dotting each of their impressive resumes.
Ouchi is a Primary Care Physician for Kaiser Permanente on Maui and was the first selection as The Maui News MIL Girl Athlete of the Year in 1991 after winning the state doubles tennis title with Allison Valenta for Seabury Hall.
Ouchi was also a standout volleyball player for the Spartans and finished third and second, respectively, in state doubles tennis with partner Michele Milovina as a sophomore and junior. After Seabury, she was a scholarship tennis player as an undergraduate at Santa Clara University, where she played No. 1 for most of her career.
“Athletics taught me that through self-discipline, hard work, and dedication … anything is possible,” she wrote in an email to The Maui News. “I definitely feel that the work ethic I developed through sports has helped me to be successful in other parts of my life. In addition, I continue to play and enjoy tennis. Tennis has been wonderful for my physical and emotional health and wellness.”
Holly, nee Massenburg, was a two-time winner of The Maui News MIL Girl Athlete of the Year in 2007-08 and 2008-09 while piling up six state titles for King Kekaulike — in the 800 and 1,500 meters as a junior and senior, the 2008 cross country crown as a senior, and being a part of the 1,600 relay gold medal team in 2009.
She is now an emergency room nurse at Sharps Memorial Medical Center in San Diego after graduating from Point Loma Nazarene University in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology — she ran cross county and track for Point Loma, making the NAIA national track meet for three years. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Azusa Pacific in 2015.
“I agree that my sports background helped me excel in the medical field,” Holly wrote in an email. “Sports are often our first experiences of teamwork, training, and discipline which translates not only to future studies and careers, but also relationships (and) self-esteem. Through athletics I learned that there is always opportunity for growth, which is something I try to apply to my own life and career.”
Holly lives in San Diego with her husband of five years, Brady Holly, and she often runs with their 1-year-old daughter Lily Kawenalani Holly.
“It has been so fun to see how running has been still so much a part of my life as I’ve grown and it’s now something I do with my daughter,” she said. “I ran a 10K race when I was 6 weeks postpartum and it felt so powerful to be able to run after the birth of my child and still feel strong!
“Lily and I have already tracked hundreds of miles in our jogger stroller and it’s been a blast to have a new training buddy.”
After Santa Clara, Ouchi graduated with honors from the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine in 2000. She then attended her Family and Community Medicine Internship and Residency at the University of California Davis Medical Center and graduated in 2003.
Ouchi — who is married to John Guarin and has children Esken Guarin, 14, and Nanea Guarin, 11 — immediately returned to Maui and obtained an OBGYN and Family Medicine position with Kaiser Permanente in 2003 before being hired as a Staff Family Medicine physician for Kaiser Permanente in May 2004. She has served as a Primary Care Physician ever since, working out of the Kaiser Permanente Lahaina Clinic.
“I feel it is a great privilege to be able to return to my island home to practice medicine,” she said.
Being the very first MIL Girl Athlete of the Year is something Ouchi will never forget.
“I feel honored and fortunate to have been bestowed this award, especially with all of the incredible young and talented athletes who shared my company at the time,” she said. “I am still in awe to have been chosen amongst so many amazing athletic colleagues.
“I continue to feel the same sense of awe when I see my name amongst so many accomplished AOY awardees throughout the years. The MIL continues to have so many great athletes in its ranks. I am forever grateful for the AOY honor and award.”
Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a major part of both Ouchi’s and Holly’s lives since it hit the U.S. in March.
“It is incredibly challenging being a front-line physician during this pandemic,” Ouchi said. “The landscape is forever changing, often on a daily basis, and we are constantly adjusting and developing new work flows to efficiently manage Covid-19 and to address all of the healthcare needs of our patients. We have also had to innovate with the changing times and we are doing a lot more virtual telephone and video visits to provide access for our members during this current pandemic.”
Ouchi is the co-chair for the Hawaii Permanente Medical Group Regional Health and Wellness Committee.
“We are putting out weekly broadcasts to the medical group to help promote resilience and self care for our physicians and providers during these pandemic times; if we are not well ourselves, then we will be less able to provide care for others,” she said, adding the hashtag #SELFCARE.
Holly just returned to work in March after maternity leave with Lily.
“I work in a busy Emergency Department in San Diego. We had to quickly adapt to the influx of this new disease. There was so much unknown, which can be incredibly stressful when you see these patients come through the door,” Holly said. “We had to change several processes to ensure that we were triaging and treating our patients appropriately while also keeping ourselves and other patients safe.
“Aside from having COVID patients, we also had our regular ER patients who are having strokes, heart attacks, and behavioral emergencies. So it’s been a bit of a juggling act, especially in the Emergency Room — but that’s life, isn’t it? I am thankful for my job and the work I get to do.”
The ER is a special place for Holly.
“The ER is one of the few places where everyone is truly welcomed,” she said. “It doesn’t matter who you are, where you came from, what you look like, or your socioeconomic status — we will take care of you. As emotionally draining as this job can be, it’s truly an honor to have a job that is intellectually challenging and allows me to be there for people during their most vulnerable times.”
Ouchi offered some advice for current MIL student-athletes who are currently sidelined due to the pandemic.
“Covid is bigger than all of us … and affecting everyone,” she said. “You are not alone. I would try to look at the positives in any situation and see these times as an ‘opportunity’ for growth; an opportunity to perhaps develop your own fitness regimen, which you can do safely at home and while social distancing; an opportunity for self reflection — journaling can be helpful; an opportunity to explore virtual resources to improve your fitness and strengthen your mental toughness and resilience.
“Every situation can have a silver-lining. My own children have gotten into mountain-biking, as a way to both have fun and improve their cardiovascular fitness during this pandemic. It also affords them time outdoors in nature … which can be incredibly resilient-building.”
Ouchi’s bottom line is this: “Perhaps, also taking time to reconnect with family and to be present for yourself and others is the greatest gift of all. #Reframe.”
Holly also offered some thoughtful reflection for current MIL student-athletes.
“The fascinating thing about this COVID-19 pandemic is that it has affected every single person in the world in some way,” she said. “My advice for MIL athletes is truly the same advice I would give anyone and it’s something that I have reflected upon a lot during these last few months.
“During this time of immense change, two distinct types of people have emerged. You have those who have used the setbacks associated with COVID-19 as an excuse to pause on their own dreams and growth. Then you have those who have used this time to hustle and put the work in. One of the most powerful tools is to be self-motivated. So each day, we have an option to be the person who makes excuses as to why they can or can’t do something or the person who puts the work in and chases after their dreams — who will you choose to be?”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org