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Karla (Solum) Wolford, D.C. (West, ’10) won’t theorize what it was like for professional athletes from around the world to hear that the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo were going to happen a year later than planned.


“I CAN’T SPEAK FOR THEM, but just think about all the practice, the physical and mental preparation… imagine that you’ve done everything right, and then something comes along that’s completely and totally out of your control,” Dr. Wolford says from her home in Moorhead, Minnesota. “That’s tough. Real tough.” Tough or not, the feeling of disappointment and grief was inevitable last summer when the Games of the XXXII Olympiad were postponed due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. The decision meant that professional athletes would need to spend another year focusing on their performance and health, and pushing their bodies and minds for longer periods of time in order to realize their dream of participating in an Olympic Games event. As the world awaits the 2021 Summer Games, we speak with Palmer College of Chiropractic graduates about what it takes to care for some of the world’s most elite athletes. Dr. Wolford has been delivering gold-medal care to athletes


her entire career. A mix of hard work, grit, and perseverance— both during college and afterward—landed her opportunities to care for athletes playing with the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP), the United States’ premier professional beach volleyball league. Soon after graduation, she began traveling the country with beach volleyball teams, gaining hands-on experience and building a reputation in the field.


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“I quickly became connected to the


health professionals and athletes I was working alongside,” she says. “I loved it—I put my heart and soul into it. I guess you could say that wearing flip- flops most days wasn’t so bad either.” Soon, USA Beach Volleyball was calling, asking her to join their international tour. With passport in hand, Dr. Wolford was on her way to Shanghai, China, for her first adventure. “I was fresh—most of my colleagues had been practicing for at least five years. I had never been to Asia before,” she recalls. “It was surreal because I was working with athletes I had seen on television.”


And while they may have been famous to the world, Dr. Wolford quickly came to recognize that the athletes were just humans deeply dedicated to their sport, and incredibly grateful for everything that she and the other health-care providers were doing for them. “What we had in common was a deep love for what we do, and a desire to lead a life of optimum health and wellness.”


COMMON LANGUAGES That common language—a love of the sport and a desire to be the best—is


ILLUSTRATIONS BY BRENDAN WHIPPLE / THE NUMAD GROUP


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