US SQUASH

Squash Players Serve: Dr. Deborah Phippard

Squash players around the country are doing their part to help during this time, and US Squash will recognize these champions each week in an ongoing “Squash Players Serve” series. Submit a short video or story to media@ussquash.com or tag us @USSquash on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, to share your stories of squash players supporting the community during the pandemic.

Many in the squash community are involved in a wide range of capacities to combat the ongoing pandemic. Dr. Deborah Phippard serves on the research front as the Global Head of Research at Precision for Medicine in Washington, DC.

Just five weeks ago, Precision for Medicine pivoted to the urgent task of supporting COVID-19 test kit production amidst nation-wide shortages and supporting clinical studies for both vaccines and drug therapy. Dr. Phippard’s team have transitioned to working twelve hour shifts seven days a week to meet the urgent task at hand. As a result of their call to action, clinical study tasks that normally take 6-8 weeks have been accomplished in just two weeks.

“Everybody is incredibly motivated here,” Phippard said. “I work with scientists and we’re all worried about friends and families, what this could do to our grandparents. My team have been amazing. They’re dealing with working without their normal child care and crazy hours. Everybody has to be creative. It’s interesting to see how COVID is changing research too.”

Dr. Phippard has also been a passionate squash player since first picking up the sport in her native England. Since moving to the U.S. twenty-five years ago, Phippard has been a part of multiple squash communities including Philadelphia, St. Louis and San Francisco. Phippard has been living in Washington, DC for the past ten years and now plays at Squash on Fire. She is a veteran of both the U.S. Women’s Team Championships (Howe Cup) and National Singles.

“I have always used squash for stress relief,” Phippard said. “I can honestly say one of the hardest things for me about dealing with a stressful job, is that I can’t now jump on court and hit something. When I’ve had a hard day at work, having all of the support of the squash community and being able to go and hit has been invaluable, so I’ve got half of that now. The women’s squash community is really tight. At National Capital Squash we have regular cocktail zoom meetings with all of my squash buddies so we’re still socializing at least. We pretty much start every zoom meeting by saying we wish we could be playing, but at least we can still talk to each other. A number of us are working on various COVID-related projects so we’re supporting each other, but unfortunately we can’t go play squash. The best thing you can do right now in the absence of a vaccine or good drugs is to stay fit and social distance. A lot of squash clubs are doing online so you can participate at home. Stay tight with the community and stay fit and hope we can safely open our clubs.”

Phippard’s appeal to the squash community is for anyone who has had COVID-19 and recovered to donate blood samples for research.

“There are plenty of people who are really on the front line, who I consider to be everyone working at hospitals,” Phippard said. “We’re doing everything we can to find a reliable treatment and develop a vaccine as quick as we can, so I’m playing my own small part in what is a massive global effort. This is a disease with no cure and an unknown outcome. This doesn’t work without the whole global community and the willingness of people who have been infected to donate samples for research. That’s what’s really helping us. If you or anyone you know has had the virus and recovered, please consider donating blood for medical research at your local hospitals, that’s really key to help us develop good, accurate tests, and to help us understand how therapy might work.”

Those interested in contacting Dr. Phippard can do so on Linkedin here.

For more digital resources on how to train from home visit the #FlattenTheNick section of ussquash.com/covid-19.

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