There are several journeys a traveler takes before arriving at a destination. For Tony Mikla ’04, working in physical therapy was just a natural step in his journey. Mikla completed his undergraduate degree at University of Arizona in 2002, where he participated in men’s basketball and received three Pacific-10 Conference championship rings. Mikla’s passion for exercise sent him to University of Pacific’s physical therapy program. When Mikla completed his master of science in physical therapy at Pacific, he quickly found work at Golden Bear Physical Therapy in Modesto, CA. Mikla then moved to Sacramento, CA to work at Results Physical Therapy and Training Center. Sacramento was a critical turning point in Mikla’s journey, where he met Stephanie Brown-Trafton, an American track and field athlete.
His work with Brown-Trafton helped her win a gold medal in discus throwing at the Summer Olympics 2008 in Beijing, China. “Stephanie originally came to Results Physical Therapy in 2006 with an ankle stress fracture. During her rehab we began working on balance and building a better strength base. Stephanie was interested in doing more, as she could see we were working on her weaknesses. We continued to work on agility and built in strength training,” said Mikla. He admitted that he knew nothing about discus throwing when he started working with her. Mikla continued to work as a performance coach for Brown-Trafton and several other Olympic athletes including Lance Brooks, Jason Young and Will Claye. His main focus for Brown-Trafton was to “keep her injury-free and in peak performance. I focused on muscle activation, strength and balance workouts, stretching, massage, planning training and recovery.”
The opportunity to be involved in the Summer Olympics 2012 in London, England was a defining moment for Mikla. “Since I was selected by an individual athlete, it makes me proud to be a part of her success. It was an honor and a privilege to be there and this is certainly my greatest athletic accomplishment of my physical therapy career.” He also said, “The amount of work each athlete completed just to make it to the Olympics was amazing. The pride of each athlete and coach to represent their country was obvious and it moves you emotionally to see people representing their country and culture with such pride.” There were many memorable moments Mikla recalled during his time in London. “My most memorable moment was sitting in the front row of Olympic Stadium watching my athlete compete, but also staying at the US Olympic Comittee headquarters in London. This location was set up as an Olympic Training Center for the Olympic athletes, coaches and teams. I was able to talk with NBA player Andre Igoudala, who was a former basketball teammate when I played at University of Arizona,” said Mikla.
Mikla is a current member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), USA Track and Field (USATF) and is a Certified USATF Coach. He continues to work at Results Physical Therapy and Training Center as the Clinical Director and Director of Sports Performance, while focusing on his new business. “I love what I do, and most of my time is spent treating patients. I built a business called TheraFLIX, which is web-based therapy exercise system designed to enhance a patient’s ability to perform an exercise properly. The site contains over 1,000 exercises organized in an easily searchable and usable manner for the clinician. TheraFLIX also contains scientifically proven protocols for the clinician to have a tool that is actually usable in the clinic.” Mikla’s next destination will take him to Rio de Janerio, where he will help prepare Brown-Trafton for the 2016 Olympics.
By Ben Herrera '10, '13