How Will Covid-19 Impact the Spiders?
How Will COVID-19 Impact the Spiders?
By Delilah Masket
Hey there Spiders fans, this week I want to introduce you to our Team Physician and set the stage for what this season may look like in terms of COVID. Dr. Harris Masket enters his second season as the Team Physician for the Spiders this year. Dr. Masket is the head of Urgent Care at UC Berkeley, has worked in sports medicine most of his career, and also spends much of his time coaching and playing Ultimate. Dr. Masket is the head coach for the Oakland Tech High School Ultimate team, and also has coached multiple Bay Area Youth Club teams.
In this interview with Dr. Masket, I aim to gain insight on the COVID safety practices of the team, how he sees this season being different from the last, and what his experience has been as the team physician.
Delilah: What were the Covid precautions last season?
Dr. Harris: We started the 2021 season wearing masks and just trying to get our players and staff vaccinated. It was a different time for sure. As things improved around the country we were able to start the season without masks for most players. The Delta variant started affecting everyone during the summer, but fortunately, the guidelines we followed stayed relevant throughout the season and kept us all very reasonably safe.
Delilah: How are restrictions different heading into this season?
Dr. Harris: The guidelines for this season are actually quite similar to last season. We are just fortunate to have terrific access to vaccines and the current variant is in decline.
Delilah: Do you anticipate this season to go uninterrupted by mandates?
Dr. Harris: I don’t want to jinx things by being overconfident, so let’s just say that I hope things continue to go well. But, we will be watching the number of cases and the science to guide our decision-making to keep everyone safe and healthy.
Delilah: How would you describe your experience working with the Spiders and AUDL?
Dr. Harris: I feel so fortunate to be working with terrific people. Dr. Chung who is the Medical Director for the AUDL has been inspiring. And, the staff of the Spiders are all awesome. Ultimate players in general are such a great group, but the people running things with the Spiders really stand out. It’s an honor to work with them.
Delilah: How would you like to see athlete care progress in the coming seasons?
Dr. Harris: I’d like to add more to our sports medicine repertoire with the Spiders and the AUDL. The league is working on a research project to help support these activities and I am in full support. I’m hopeful that we can add a year-round training and care plan to get these athletes in top shape and keep them healthy so they can compete for years to come.
Delilah: What has been the most unexpected thing you’ve learned being the Spiders team physician?
Dr. Harris: I started with the Spiders last year for the 2021 season. Before that, I had gone to a few of their games, but I had never stood on the sideline and worn my “doctor hat.” I’ve covered countless sporting events before this, but being on-call right next to the Spiders was the first time I had ever covered Ultimate and seen it truly as a professional sport. I've played Ultimate for years, but standing on the sideline as a participant is different. These athletes are putting their bodies on the line every time they play and it’s a beautiful and courageous thing that people do when they play high-level Ultimate. I’m enjoying watching the rest of the world learn this, too.
Dr. Harris will again be on the sideline and ready to keep every Spider strong and fast from the first game on May 7th, 2022 6:00pm at Oakland Technical High School, and throughout the season!