Olympic-bound doctor one of area’s own

by Morgan Smith

Matthew McAlees helps stretch Tervel Dlagnev, a member of the 2012 USA Olympic Wrestling Team, at the World Championships for wrestling in Herning, Denmark. Photos courtesy of Matthew McAlees

While the world turns their eyes to London for the next two weeks, one local doctor will be experiencing the Olympics firsthand.

As Team USA gears up for days of intense competition, Matt McAlees and around 100 other doctors from around the country will be by their side, ensuring athletes have the proper nutrition and mindset to perform their best.

“We have a really amazing role we get to play,” McAlees said. “We really focus on their performance. If it’s not sport-specific, we handle it – nutrition, chiropractic care, mental outlook, staying focused, not getting distracted. (We) help them to not be failure-oriented, but really getting them to stay success-minded.”

This will be his first time heading to the Olympics, although he’s been to a handful of other major competitions such as the World Championships and most recently the Olympic trials for wrestling in Iowa City, Iowa. McAlees was chosen for the opportunity because of his involvement and leadership with the Maximized Living Wellness Advisory Council, a health-care delivery system focused on enhancing athlete performance.

He graduated in 2009 from Palmer College in Daytona Beach, Fla. Since then, McAlees has done most of his post-graduate work with Maximized Living and been focusing on getting people well through changing lifestyles rather than medicine. He’s worked at several clinics throughout North America, from Florida to Canada to Chicago, Ill.

Now, he’s settled in the Charlotte area where he owns the largest wellness clinic around: the Charlotte Health Center.

“We get to really help people,” he said. “Honestly, that’s my passion. I love working with athletes and going to the Olympics is awesome, but I would rather help a kid with asthma or help a grandma get out of her wheelchair so she can play with her grandkids… so people can be healthy and well and really enjoy life.”

But McAlees, who is a third-generation doctor, said he couldn’t be happier for the opportunity to head to London.

“Who doesn’t have that dream? You always think (about going to the Olympics) as an athlete. But in this capacity, I always dreamed, but never thought it would really come true,” he said.

“I know everyone gets Olympic fever, but I think when you’re with the athletes or when it’s your sport, it really is amazing. People don’t realize how really good these guys and gals are. These people are really the best of the best of the best. It’s pretty special to watch,” McAlees added.

McAlees, who earlier in his life was an avid wrestler, will primarily be working with the Team USA Wrestling team, although he also might have the opportunity to work with weightlifting, judo, volleyball and some swimmers.

“Because Charlotte has such a concentration of swimmers, we take care of a lot of them locally so we sometimes end up working with them anyway,” he said.

McAlees added that during the competition, the Maximized Living doctors really play the role of supporters and people the athletes look to for help and stability.

“The athletes really attach themselves to some of our doctors. In really programming their brains for success, (the doctors) are the ones they really go to.”

And as McAlees, one of the youngest doctors to work with Team USA, packs his bags, he’s just excited and thankful for the opportunity. Even to go to London, another new experience in itself.

“I’m honestly fully prepared to see the best sporting event and the entire world come together,” he said. “The entire world will be watching London and I get to be right in the middle of it. I just can’t wait to be a part of it.”

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