Spring 2010: Features
The Competitive Edge
Three Emory alumni share a medical practice with a common goal
By Mary J. Loftus
Although the winter Olympics concluded earlier in the week, a highly competitive race is taking place inside Cove Family and Sports Medical Center just outside of Huntsville, Alabama.
The office is closed to patients for lunchtime, but the clinic’s tight-knit staff is eating and joking around together, including physicians Alicia Moore Krichev 98C, Jon Krichev 98C, and Amy Carter 97C.
The Krichevs’ daughters—six-year-old Julia, four-year-old Audrey, and two-year-old Sophia—are taking advantage of the empty hallways to engage in their favorite sports: stool races and chair spinning.
Their mom eats a pear and watches her girls fly fearlessly down the slick linoleum, hair ribbons flying. “I guess they take after us,” she says.
Alicia Krichev was captain of the basketball and volleyball teams during college, did the high jump in track and field, and has been inducted into the Emory Sports Hall of Fame. Jon Krichev was captain of the Emory swim team. And Carter, Alicia’s college roommate, was captain of the soccer and basketball teams and is also in the Sports Hall of Fame.
“They were both horribly intense when they played basketball,” says Jon Krichev, who started dating Alicia in their junior year after she was his lab partner in physics.
“It’s true,” she says, smiling. “I was always really competitive.”
“It’s that adrenaline,” Carter adds. “I’m laid back outside of sports, but my friends joke that I’ll get competitive even when I’m playing cards.”
After graduating from Emory, Carter went on to medical school at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), where her family lives.
The next year, Jon Krichev, who grew up in nearby Guntersville, and Alicia were accepted to UAH’s medical school as well. “They’re always following me,” says Carter, in mock exasperation.
As the Krichevs were completing their residencies, they were approached by one of their professors who hoped that they would take over a family practice he had started several decades ago in Huntsville.
They agreed, and invited Carter, who specialized in sports medicine after her residency in family medicine, to join them.
“We’ve known each other a long time, and there’s a certain level of trust there,” says Carter, who also serves as UAH’s team physician. “They are both rational, generous people.”
They took over the practice in July 2005 and treat patients from newborns to the elderly, with an emphasis on sports medicine for both competitive and amateur athletes. On any given day, they might see a Little Leaguer with a sprained ankle, a long-distance runner who wants to improve endurance, or a teen with a stomach virus.
Carter and Jon Krichev work similar hours, while Alicia Krichev, who is expecting their fourth child, works a reduced schedule. Carter fills in when the Krichevs go on vacation, and vice versa. They all treat patients at area hospitals as well.
In five years, says Jon Krichev, “I don’t think we’ve had one issue we haven’t been able to resolve.”
All are still active in sports—Jon Krichev competes in triathlons, and Alicia sometimes joins him “to get back into shape between babies,” she says.
Carter rides mountain bikes with her dog and plays Ultimate Frisbee, which has led to a few injuries of her own. “If I play something, I’m going to play all out,” she says.
Their active participation in the sports culture of Huntsville—home to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and a hub for rocket scientists and defense contractors— has granted their medical practice a certain validity among the area’s athletes.
And they each try to communicate a love of exercise to their patients, especially the younger ones.
“Growing up in a family that encouraged sports and outside activities, I learned quickly that things like soccer and other team sports were a lot of fun,” Carter says. “To be active needs to become a habit from an early age. Otherwise, you spend a lot of time sitting around.”
Which, all three admit, is not something they do very often.