HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the coronavirus pandemic worsened globally over the course of the last six weeks, the suspension of America’s major sports leagues was, perhaps, the moment millions of people across the country realized just how severe the outbreak had become.
The NBA was the first professional sports league to pull the plug, and the suspension of the season resulted in many players, coaches, and front office workers being sent home in an effort to combat further spread of the pandemic.
But for athletic trainers, especially those in professional sports, the work continues.
Makiki native Heather Mau graduated from Maryknoll School in 2007 and chased her passion for athletic training to the mainland.
After brief stints at a pair of Big West college programs, she landed her first ‘big’ professional break in 2016, when she was named the head athletic trainer for the South Bay Lakers.
“I was pretty nervous,” said Mau, speaking via Facetime from her home in Dallas. “The head athletic trainer in minor league sports is in charge of a lot of things. It was my biggest learning curve, but I was really blessed to be in a position where the 'G' league team was in the same facility with their NBA parent team.”
The Los Angeles Lakers are South Bay’s NBA owner, and the relationship allowed Mau an opportunity to connect with one of the biggest sports stars on the planet.
“LeBron (James) is really awesome and very nice," said Mau. “His attention to detail is probably what amazed me the most.”
After three years in the City of Angels, a new challenge took her to a ‘bigger’ adventure in Texas. The 2020 NBA season was her first as an assistant athletic trainer with the Dallas Mavericks.
The 30-year-old was thriving until the season was abruptly suspended due to the spread of COVID-19.
“I’m contacting players everyday to see if they are asymptomatic,” said Mau. “I also check to see how they are doing through this time, since it has been a change for everybody.”
Although her career has taken her across the country, Hawaii remains a driving force both in Mau’s life and career.
“To be young and achieving what was essentially my goal is pretty awesome,” said Mau. “I attribute how I was raised in Hawaii, gratitude, humility, compassion I think those things are what ground me ― and it’s valuable to any NBA franchise.”