I visit with my old friend Dave Kobrine (whom I have known for a long time, too!) to discuss his remarkable athletic journey, lifelong commitment to fitness, the amazing athletic exploits of the Kobrine family, and how to nurture two kids to become national-caliber high school athletes in two sports and NCAA Division I scholarship volleyball players for UCLA (hint: don’t do much, let them explore their passions naturally.)
Dave is an understated guy and you won’t pull much down if you Google him, but his morning routine will inspire the most hardcore peak performer. Up at 6 AM and into some gentle basic movements and calisthenics. Then it’s time for a 24-ounce water with lemon and salt. Then into the chest freezer cold plunge for a 3-4 minutes at 36-40F, then preparing a nutritious smoothie for consumption later that day (Dave usually fasts till noon or beyond. He was sharp for this late afternoon show despite not eating all day!) Then it’s off on a gentle aerobic run of two miles, mainly for the “sun and air”. Then it’s off to the gym for a 20-minute sauna and cold shower. At this point, he feels fantastically ready for a busy day at the office, where he runs an actuarial consulting firm with his hard working brothers. That’s just his morning “habit.” His actual workouts, like evening strength sessions in the gym (heavy lifting and mobility stuff), along with endurance runs and faster runs are thrown into the mix as well.
Many Kobrine’s get a cameo, including my high school teammate Dr. Steven, who does running vacations of 100 miles in a week (including a double Grand Canyon crossing where he fried his beloved Apple AirPods with excessive sweating); mysterious brother Rob as the “maybe the family’s best all-around athlete;” father Ron who ran 30 consecutive Boston marathons, many under 3 hours despite starting the streak in his 40s and carrying on into his 70s (read more in the last chapter of Primal Endurance); brother Eric who is carrying the Boston torch with 23 consecutive finishes and counting; and sister Joni the queen of hot yoga.
Modesty aside, know this about Dave: At Los Angeles Taft High School, his team was runner-up in the LA city championships, played in front of 10,000 fans at UCLA Pauley Pavilion. In the quarterfinal qualification game for the big dance, his favored Taft team was down big with time running out. On his home court, Dave went on an epic binge, scoring 7 points in 10 seconds (bucket; steal off the dribble for dunk; steal inbounds for a basket and free throw). He blew the roof off that high school gym! I remember it as one of the greatest athletic spectacles I’ve ever seen in person, next to Seb Coe winning the Olympic 1500 meters in 1984 LA Games, and the LA Kings Miracle on Manchester in 1982.
As a UCLA sophomore, Dave bravely knocked on coach Larry Brown’s door and informed him he was ready for varsity basketball after a stellar season on the UCLA JV team. From there, this decent high school guard of 6’2” found himself on the practice court daily with the number-one ranked team in the nation, including seven future NBA players. Dave remembers, “I was the 13th man on a 12-man team…” But still! After a season with the Bruins and some cameo appearances on the hallowed Pauley Pavillion court where he watched the Bruin dynasty throughout his childhood, he realized that his basketball career had reached a pinnacle. After watching the epic 1982 Hawaii Ironman broadcast with the crawling Julie Moss crawling across the finish line, Dave whimsically decided to redirect his athletic focus and enter the race despite zero experience. Sure enough, he completed the 1983 Hawaii Ironman World Championships as a college junior. Dave is the only known human in the history of humanity to play on the #1-ranked NCAA basketball team and finish the Hawaii Ironman the following year.
Dave talks about pursuing a variety of competitive goals throughout life, how his high school basketball teammates have maintained strong lifelong bonds, getting together frequently over the years for fun and games, and his relaxed approach to guiding his boys Sam (UCLA ’20) and Kevin (UCLA ’22) through the highest levels of elite youth basketball and volleyball. “I wish I’d made them read more, that’s about it,” Dave reflects. In the age of helicopter parents and overly competitive and overly accelerated youth sports, it’s refreshing to realize how little parents have to do with a kid’s success, besides being positive and encouraging at all times.
Guest Dave Kobrine was the guy who inspired Brad to do Triathlon. [00:02:42]
Besides stretching and cold therapy, Dave’s morning routine includes a big drink of water. It is important to add salt to the water you drink in the morning. [00:04:51]
After that comes the run with fresh air and sunshine. [00:13:39]
Off to the gym for sauna. [00:16:33]
Back forty years to high school with Brad. [00:19:26]
Dabbling in UCLA basketball. [00:24:01]
What was the Ironman like in the early 80s? [00:40:21]
Dad Ron ran 30 consecutive Boston Marathons. [00:43:04]
Sam and Kevin, sons of Dave Kobrine, are super athletes as well. [00:54:11]
When you have early success, are you gaining over other kids? How does the coach encourage? [00:59:13]
Brad talks about his experience being cut from the team and how it turned positive. [01:03:39]
As the Kobrine boys got into high school sports their abilities continued to grow. [01:05:30]
What is the father’s role in these boys’ success in sports? [01:09:40]
LISTEN:Download Episode MP3
Get Over Yourself Podcast
Speakers: Brad Kearns and Dave Kobrine
Brad Kearns: Welcome to the Get Over Yourself Podcast. This is Brad Kearns.
Dave Kobrine: “So, it’s a matter of, they enjoy it. So, when you enjoy it and you have a little success, you do more of it and it kind of breeds on itself.” “Then finally, I told him that, ‘You know what? If you start playing volleyball, you’re going to be dunking earlier,’ and his eyes lit up. And he said, ‘Do you think I could dunk in ninth grade?’ I said, ‘I know you’ll dunk in ninth grade.’ And so, next year he joined volleyball, and he did dunk in ninth grade.”
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Hi Friends. I’m excited to introduce my guest; Dave Kobrine. Haven’t heard of him? Haven’t googled him? He’s an old friend of mine, kind of an understated ordinary guy doing his thing. When I asked him to be on the show, he said, “Well, I’m not sure if your listeners will find anything interesting.” But I think you can be the judge and wow, we had some great stuff coming out.
The reason I wanted to get him on the show, is because he is living the dream, man. He has the incredible commitment to a healthy fit lifestyle. His morning routine is going to blow you away and get you inspired to do something similar yourself.
Dave was a huge inspiration to me over the course of my life, particularly to start doing triathlons back in the early ‘80s. He was one of the early Hawaii Ironman guys. While he was still in college, he was a high school basketball star who had an unlikely journey all the way onto a walk on spot at UCLA – the number one team in the nation back at that time. And all kinds of fun stuff come out.
The amazing Kobrine Family whom I wrote about in the final chapter of the book, “Primal Endurance”. You’ll hear some name drops from the appropriate siblings and father and also, his kids who both found their way into the very highest level of elite high school sports in both basketball and volleyball. And Dave will talk about how he navigated that sometimes arduous journey these days. So, I think you’re going to get some great stuff out of this. Dave was also the guy that got me all the way deep into cold therapy, when I walked into his master bathroom one day a couple of years ago, and there it was wedged against the wall in his beautiful marble sunken tub; a chest freezer. I’m like, “What the heck is that?” And he showed me about how he’s making giant ice cubes with plastic bins. Dumping them in the bathtub, doing his cold plunge every morning.Then we sort of together navigated the opportunities for a more sophisticated experience and finally, going all in with the chest freezer cold therapy that you see on my YouTube video. Dave follows suit and enjoys that every morning.
Great show. I really hope you get some good stuff out of it. Enjoy Dave Kobrine down in Orange County, California.
Here we are, Orange County, California. I’m with my very old friend Dave Kobrine, dating back to high school days. How are you doing Dave?
Dave Kobrine: Great, thanks Brad. A lot of fun to be here with you.
Brad Kearns: Yes, when your agent pitched me for the show, you said, “I don’t know if anyone will be really interested.” And I said, “You know what? There are so many cool things about your story and your athletic background. Your incredible kids athletic background now.” But I want to start like with your morning routine. Because it’s so simple and inspiring and I just think that it’s a really important part of life to kind of have that competitive edge and that focus getting going everyday, where fitness is a big part of your life and you have these patterns that work for you. And it inspired me. You were the guy that got me in to cold therapy, which is now so famous and has gone viral. My YouTube video has over 2,000 views, maybe more, after the time of this recording. But when I walked into your master bedroom, I was just odd and inspired. So, tell me about how you got into the cold thing and what you do every morning.
Dave Kobrine: Right. Well, that was my stage one. I’ve evolved quite a bit since then. Thanks to you, actually. But starting out the morning routine, what I like to do is wake up and basically start moving. First thing I do is I get up, I actually do five to 10 minutes of stretching and movements, pushups, squats, some stretching. You actually motivated me with your seven-minute video. I don’t do that in my bed, but I actually get out of bed and do my little thing.
Brad Kearns: You just made it up yourself basically?
Dave Kobrine: Yeah, yeah.
Brad Kearns: Joni Kobrine, yoga instructor, help out with any of that?
Dave Kobrine: I do have some yoga moves in there that she taught me.
Brad Kearns: We’re going to drop in every Kobrine name by the end of the recording. It’s going to be nice and smooth and natural. So, we got Joni first. Dad’s coming up soon. We’re going to drop that bomb. That 30 for 30 because that’s a – wait, did they name that ESPN documentary after your dad? We’ll check in later. So, you do the stretching and it’s-
Dave Kobrine: Yeah. You get up and start moving and do some stretching. And then like a lot of people do, I drink a lot of water in the morning.
Brad Kearns: Oh really?
Dave Kobrine: Yeah. I drink a big huge container of water that I put by my bed while I do my stretching.
Brad Kearns: Where did you get that? Was that Laird Hamilton telling you that or?
Dave Kobrine: I’m not sure where I picked up each of these things. I think a variety of people throughout the past few years as I learned-
Brad Kearns: Dang, I’m going to add that, man. I don’t really make a big point.
Dave Kobrine: I like that. I like it.
Brad Kearns: It’s getting hydrated after a night’s sleep where-
Dave Kobrine: Right, because I’ve heard that you get dehydrated during the evening and while you’re sleeping. So, I actually, do a big mug of water. I don’t know how many, 23, 24 ounces. Add some salt to it and some lemon.
Brad Kearns: So, like a pinch or two of salt, a little bit of lemon.
Dave Kobrine: A little bit of lemon. Three grams roughly.
Brad Kearns: So, let’s pause there. And the reason for adding that salt?
Dave Kobrine: Well, it replaces minerals. I mean, it replaces minerals, is the reason I do that.
Brad Kearns: Yeah, Kelly Starrett says that if you just slam yourself of water, you’re going to pee it out because you’re overloading the system and it needs that constant sodium balance, which we always work hard to do with our kidneys dropping in exactly the amount of sodium. So, if you have, I guess it equates to like a pinch per eight ounces. So, if you’re drinking 24 ounces, you’re throwing in a fair amount of salt and then you’re going to be more easily absorbing those into the tissues throughout your body. That’s his message.
Dave Kobrine: Right. And I seem to like it. I actually, feel much better in the morning after I drink that big mug of water. And then I actually make a big huge smoothie after that. I don’t drink it then, but I go downstairs, make this big huge smoothie that I bring to work. And then right after that, I jump into the cold water.
Brad Kearns: And it started backwoods cowboy style with the bathtub. Tell us about the old regimen and how long that-
Dave Kobrine: I’ve evolved, I’m in stage three right now. Primitive mode was I had a big ice chest in my bathroom.
Brad Kearns: Excuse me, in your bathroom, you had an ice chest?
Dave Kobrine: I had a big ice chest in my bathroom. I don’t know, maybe it was about a 10-cubic foot ice chest. And I had to devise ways to get ice in there. I mean, I tried baggies. I was very primitive and couldn’t figure out the best way to do it. I finally, just got these big plastic containers from Home Depot or somewhere and filled them up and filled the water up and dumped in the ice. And it seemed to work.
Brad Kearns: So, you filled the containers and then put them in the freezer-
Dave Kobrine: Overnight.
Brad Kearns: And then so, in the morning, you can just dump them out.
Dave Kobrine: Exactly.
Brad Kearns: Right. They’re big chunks of ice.
Dave Kobrine: Big huge chunks of ice, threw them in my bathtub. Two issues with that were that, one, it took a long time for it to get cold. So, I would have to wait 25, 30 minutes before it got to a good temperature. And two, it never really got that cold. At the time it was cold, it was 55 degrees and I thought, “Wow, that’s really cold.” Again, this is stage one.
Eventually (thanks to you Brad), I moved to the hundred-gallon tub that I threw in my backyard. So, I didn’t have to fill my bathtub every morning.
Brad Kearns: This is like a stock tank you see on the farm, on your Newport Coast farm.
Dave Kobrine: Yes, big horse water container. It’s 100 gallons and had the same ice chest, just moved it into my backyard and always had it filled with ice and threw it in there. And again, it was the same issue of taking 20, 25, 30 minutes before it got cold enough. And still would never get cold with that. That actually would get to maybe 58, 59, 60 because there was so much more water in there.
Brad Kearns: Yeah. So, if you dumped the ice in and then it’s going to melt by the evening everyday in Orange County or what?
Dave Kobrine: Yeah.
Brad Kearns: It’s not going to stay cold.
Dave Kobrine: No, no. It would melt while I was in it. And the next day, after I was done, I would fill up the containers with big buckets this time, big buckets, filled of water, put it back in the chest and by morning was ready for me. It was still not perfect. Then current state is what you brought me to. I finally got the 15-cubic foot freezer, filled it with water and got a cold. And it’s always there for me whenever I want it. So, now I go in there for about three to four minutes, between 35 to 40 degrees. And always, when I get out of that, I always feel great. I mean, I know sometimes in the morning gets hard. You don’t want to go in. But I always tell myself, “You know you’re going to feel great when you’re done.” And I always do. So, now I don’t even think about it. It’s just automatic. I make the smoothie, put it away for when you get to work later and get in the ice chest.
Brad Kearns: That’s a great comparison there. You make the smoothie and you jump in the freezer. And I was talking to our resident psychologist, Dr. Lindsey Taylor, behavioral psychologist, co-author of the Keto Reset cookbooks and the queen of the Facebook groups of Primal Endurance and Keto Reset. And she’s talking about how we have this concept of willpower and how you have to summon willpower and you’re so strong-minded and you’re so disciplined to go do this and go do that. But it’s like a depleting asset. And if you summon willpower so many times a day, by the end of the day, you’re going to go, “Fucking, I’m going to have some Ben and Jerry’s now and again, go off my diet.” So, like getting into that tub has now become an automatic behavior, which has such a profound impact on all the other things you do in life, because you don’t require any willpower to jump in. And you mentioned how you used to at the start, like, “Oh shit, okay. I got to go. I’m committed to this. I’m going to go jump in that water again.” But I feel that same sensation where it’s a little unpleasant. The best part is like bringing your friends over and they stick their hand in. Which is the worst thing to stick in. They’re like, “Oh my God, dude, you’re crazy.” But after building up that momentum, I feel like it’s improving my life in many ways because here’s something that I can do that requires zero willpower, zero thought. It’s an automatic behavior, but it’s beneficial for my health. And so, then apply that to, “Hey, do you clear your email inbox every day at work? Are you too lazy?” And so, you kind of become a more focused and centered person just from jumping in the water.
Dave Kobrine: Yeah, exactly. Really what it is, is a habit. It’s not using willpower, it’s a habit. And habits you just do automatically. And that’s what I found that I don’t even think about it, you just go and you do it. And I totally agree with the willpower, the more you use, the more you deplete it. I’m very familiar with that. So, after I get out of the ice bath, sometimes I might do some quick exercises like 50 to 100 pushups to warm up or-
Brad Kearns: So, the stuff in the morning was just kind of stretching, not a big operation. Just getting movement.
Dave Kobrine: Yeah, I might do 20 pushups and about 20 or 30 squats and then some stretching just to start moving. Then, after the ice bath, I basically get my running shoes on and I go up to a trail by my house and this is good. It’s very therapeutical. I do a really easy, Maffetone-type run.
Brad Kearns: 180 minus age.
Dave Kobrine: Well, I’m getting a little too old for that.
Brad Kearns: How old is this guy now? You got to be over 50-years-old by now.
Dave Kobrine: 57.
Brad Kearns: Oh, my goodness. Dave was a few years ahead of me at Taft High School in Los Angeles, and we’re going to talk about the days of basketball stardom and all that. So, 180 minus age is getting to be a pretty long number. In fact, for those listeners who are familiar with this whole thing, we talk about it a lot on the Primal Endurance Podcast, but you can start to get back a few beats if you’re maintaining fitness as you get into those older decades. So, maybe 180 minus age plus five or plus 10 is appropriate for you because your heart rate is not declining at that one beat per year as a formula might … your maximum heart rate.
Hi, Dave Kobrine’s office. He’s on a podcast now.
Dave Kobrine: So, yeah.
Brad Kearns: So, you’re running somewhere around there. Are you actually strapping on a watch or you’re just taking it easy?
Dave Kobrine: No, no, no. I keep my watch and my heart strap on. I keep it under 130. This is the number I use as my basis. Probably a little high on the Maffetone scale, but I still feel comfortable with that. And I do it really easy running the trail and about half-mile away is this beautiful ocean view. So, I’m seeing that every morning. And I’m getting air and sun. That’s the first thing you do in the morning, is to get air and sun. I like to get the sun on me. It’s a two-mile course I do. And again, it’s not a workout per se, but it’s just more of just getting going. Getting moving, getting air, getting sun.
In the last mile, I might do some easy strides. I don’t keep my heart above 130, so I might do 10 to 20 yards of strides just to loosen up. But I always feel better when I do that as opposed to just going at a steady pace.
Then I go directly to the gym.
Brad Kearns: Wow. Wait a second, how much time has elapsed now if we’re counting at home from the time you woke up and went into the sequence?
Dave Kobrine: Well, I get up at six and so, usually about seven or so, I’m on the trail and my goal is to get to work by nine. That’s my goal. A lot of times I get distracted. There’re days I get distracted, but I go to the gym and all I do at the gym in the morning is I take a 20 to 25-minute sauna. So, I come out of the sauna, take a cold shower and I’m golden. I’m ready to work for the rest of the day.
Brad Kearns: Pretty nice. What do you think about the sauna? You looked into that? I know you listen to a ton of podcasts. That’s why we were so glad to get you on. The podcast aficionado. We talk about them all the time.
Dave Kobrine Especially yours Brad.
Brad Kearns: Of course, right. Dr. Rhonda Patrick stuff – we talked about that and seems like some amazing benefits to accrue from sitting in that sauna.
Dave Kobrine: Well, truthfully, I try a lot of different things and I evolved to this. This is where I’m at right now. I’m sure it will change over the years or over the months even. But I experiment a lot of things and I find what works for me. I may not know the science behind it or why it’s doing what, but I know when I do that every morning, and I get to work at nine-ish, I feel super good. And I’m wide-awake, plenty of energy and very sharp. And so, that works.
Brad Kearns: That’s everyday. And then you’re also hitting the gym as well. How often and what are you doing for the actual gym workout?
Dave Kobrine: I like to go to the gym in the evening, somewhere between four to six, depending on what I got going on that night. I found that trying to do it in the morning, I wouldn’t get as good as workout and then I’d be sitting and going home and not moving in the evening. And so, I like to split it up. So, I’m doing something in the morning and then the evening, I get better workouts because I’m more warmed up. I hadn’t had like two hours of stuff going on before with the run and the ice bath and all that. And I find I’m recharging myself in the evening. And I’m going to the gym probably four to five days a week. And then maybe, one or two days a week, I might actually do a hard run or some kind of interval training, type of thing.
Brad Kearns: And so, what are you doing in the gym? Like body weight or pulling the machines?
Dave Kobrine: I really limited my gym workouts to a handful of exercises everyday. I like to do squats, deadlifts, pullups, military presses and some dumbbell bench presses. I also do a lot of pushups and that’s primarily what I’m doing in the gym. And actually, the first half hour of the gym is strictly stretching and mobility exercises.
Brad Kearns: Wow. And where did you get those?
Dave Kobrine: I got them from various places. No specific spot.
Brad Kearns: And you’re going through the same routine every time?
Dave Kobrine: Pretty much, I do. I do.
Brad Kearns: A routine guy here.
Dave Kobrine: Some people have said a creature of habit. I’ve heard that more than once.
Brad Kearns: Whatever works. And so, what keeps you going these days in terms of going for certain goals? Like a mud run or obstacle course. That’s the last time we checked in. I know you’ve done a bunch of other stuff we’re going to talk about.
Dave Kobrine: Yeah, right now, I’m not really competitive anymore. I mean, not that I was ever competitive, I wasn’t a pro triathlete or anything.
Brad Kearns: We’ll be the judge of that when we hear about this UCLA stuff.
Dave Kobrine: No, no. I was never a competitive athlete. I was more of a participant. I participated in a lot in Taft, some things like that. But now I’m headed more towards the Spartan-type obstacle courses. I did one in Chino in January. It was a ton of fun. I’d like to do more. Right now, I’m kind of nursing a couple of bad elbows that I messed up by jumping out of the ice bath and doing like 100 pullups in a row really fast.
Brad Kearns: To warm up.
Dave Kobrine: I got all this energy and did like a ton of pullups as hard and fast as I can when I got out of the ice bath. And so, I’m now nursing those elbows back. But once those are back, I want to do some more Spartan runs.
Brad Kearns: Yeah, those pullups are tough. I believe I picked up tennis elbow from a combination of that and hitting too many golf balls. And then if you get that tennis elbow, it takes a long time to heal. It’s crazy.
Dave Kobrine: Yeah, it’s been awhile.
Brad Kearns: We got to watch out. Take some more collagen protein in your smoothie.
Dave Kobrine: I do, I do.
Brad Kearns: So, that’s where you are today, 57. Now, we’re going to wind back the clock. Oh my gosh, that’s like probably 40 years to 17. And you were out there at Taft High. And this is a large Los Angeles city high school with big population there and turned out you and your gang was pretty competitive in basketball. And I’ll tell the listeners that what’s amazing is like you guys still hang out all the time and this basketball team from 40 years ago has kept that social connection all this time. But tell us about your high school days and how you got into that big time LA competition. Because you guys went to city finals and played in front of a sold-out sports arena. 12,000 people or a Pauley or whatever. It was big time playing. Not some kid from the farm lands that got third in the state in Iowa. But this was the real deal out there.
Dave Kobrine: Well, I don’t know about that. High school basketball in 1979 … one thing you did mention is very true is that we’re still, the entire team is still very close. We talk all the time. We get together all the time. We don’t play sports anymore all the time, unfortunately. We tried for years, but one by one, we all dropped out of competition.
Brad Kearns: But we had these, what was it? The 8 Foot?
Dave Kobrine: 9 Foot.
Brad Kearns: So, the 9 Foot World Basketball Championships and this stuff. I went nowhere near that because I was doing triathlons and I knew if I showed up at that park, I was recruited by a few teams, but this was like pretty serious competition, going for those. The 9 Foot title was the name of the title?
Dave Kobrine: We call it the “Speed Tournament” of course, because that was the name of our team. We did that for about 10 years out of high school. Our high school team would get together and play in 9 Foot baskets and have a competition and was even more competitive than the City Championship game, because it meant more to us.
Brad Kearns: So, back on that Taft team, you got in there. I guess you were a youth player and played at a good level in the San Fernando Valley, and then when you got to high school, where you pretty much focused on making basketball your sport and knew what you were in for.
Dave Kobrine: This sport, I concentrate on in high school. I didn’t play multiple sports. The other sports didn’t interest me at the time.
Brad Kearns: They weren’t interested in you either, I guess, maybe not.
Dave Kobrine: The volleyball coach tried to get me out to play quite a bit. I don’t know if you remember Mr. Morey.
Brad Kearns: Imagine that, the volleyball coach. We’re going to pick up that sport a little later.
Dave Kobrine: I look back and I was so disappointed I didn’t play that sport back then. Because when I got out of college, that’s all I did, is play beach volleyball. And a big advantage if you had played in high school. But, no, it was just strictly basketball. The best thing about it is like you mentioned, is that we have lifelong friends from that team. And yeah, we were competitive. We got second in the city and we did play in front of like 10,000 people at Pauley Pavilion, which is a thrill when your 17-years-old and especially when you went to every UCLA game since you were like 10-years-old in the Pauley Pavilion, to go there and play was just a big thrill.
Brad Kearns: Yeah, that’s a culmination of the high school dream. Fantastic. But then you ended up at UCLA and decided to dabble in a little bit of basketball. So, tell me how that whole thing went.
Dave Kobrine: Well, it was a lot easier to get in back then. Okay? Because I wouldn’t be getting in right now.
Brad Kearns: First of all, let me state that same with me at UC Santa Barbara, I floated in the back door. We have kids the same age that are now just in college and the rigorous requirements to get in either as an athlete, which is a nice way in and that’s really hard work or as a student. But back in our day, my dad’s like, “So, dad what was your GPA when you went to UC Santa Barbara?” Like, “Oh, it was like a two-eight in high school. Much better in college.”
Dave Kobrine: I just said, “Yeah, I got in.”
Brad Kearns: That’s all you need to say.
Dave Kobrine: Yeah, I got in, I got in. Did what it took to get in back then, which is nothing like today. The first year there, I played on the JV team and did pretty well and had a lot of fun with that. And then in the second year, I was a pretty quiet kid and I knocked on the door and Larry Brown answered the door. And I walked up to the athletic office, I knocked on Larry Brown’s door and I said, “Hi, I’d like to play on the varsity this year.” And he said to me, “Sure, come on out.”
He knew me. He actually, back then, for whatever reason, my nickname was “All World” and I don’t think he knew my real name. The JV coach called me “All World” all the time. So, he said, “All World, come on in. Yeah, sure you could play.” So, he was very nice and let me play.
Brad Kearns: So, Larry Brown, a noted NBA and college coach, probably a Hall of Fame level coach who did so many things, including take Allen Iverson and the 6ers to the finals, one of the worst teams to ever make it to the NBA finals besides Allen.
Dave Kobrine: At one point he had the Clippers best record ever as the coach.
Brad Kearns: Wow. Yeah, he was known for like jumping in and turning places around and then leaving soon after. He was very peripatetic, right? So, you had a spot on the varsity and were they pretty good at that time?
Dave Kobrine: Yeah, I think we were number one ranked at the time. But let’s be honest about that, I was really the 13th man in a 12-man team.
Brad Kearns: That’s going to be a pull quote for the podcast. Listen to how understated this guy is. I mean, this kid from the valley, San Fernando Valley who liked basketball, made it work in high school.
The cool thing about that Taft team, it was so well oiled because you guys were buddies and you just go. And it was poetry to watch, especially the city quarter final game, which he’s turning red now if you’re not watching. Because I tease them about this all the time. But you tore that house down, like it was one of the greatest athletic performances I’ve ever seen. Because this is a do or die game. And like you expressed that dream of playing in front of the 10,000 fans in the city finals. You’ve got to get through the qualifying-
Dave Kobrine: Qualifying Pauley.
Brad Kearns: At Pauley Pavilion, the UCLA home, John Wooden’s home. I mean, Wooden was just leaving at that point. He was still fresh, he had fresh footprints. His rolled-up program was still on the floor.
Dave Kobrine: Still at every game.
Brad Kearns: Right, he’s still watching every game, of course. So, this quarter final game and I think you guys were favored, but you were struggling. And then you went on this binge which reportedly was filmed on Beta by Ron Kobrine, number one sports fan. We haven’t located it yet. I have a bounty on that video because I want to see it. Because it was just one of the greatest things. But you want me to describe it and you can correct me if I’m wrong or I want to hear it from you?
Dave Kobrine: You could describe it because you probably know it better than I do.
Brad Kearns: Yeah. So, the team’s down by a lot and their time’s running out in the game and you put a bucket in, right? And then we come down the court and you get a steal. So, you got a steal and went in for another bucket.
Dave Kobrine: Dunk.
Brad Kearns: And went in for the dunk. And then what was the third thing?
Dave Kobrine: I stole the inbound pass and got fouled.
Brad Kearns: So, here we have a basket by Kobrine, a steal picked off the dribble, like, yeah, picked off the dribble at midcourt, in for a dunk. The crowd’s going crazy. We realize we’re back in the game and then you steal the inbound pass and go in for an AND1. So, for counting at home, that’s two, four, six. And then did you drop the free throw? So, seven points, how much time off the clock?
Dave Kobrine: Well, according to you, it was 15 seconds.
Brad Kearns: Seven points in 15 seconds. I think it was less than that. But that pretty much, if you can imagine a high school gym of kids screaming like crazy and then we flooded the court afterward. And so, here’s this guy up on peoples’ shoulders and then had the balls to knock on Larry Brown’s door. I love that.
Dave Kobrine: Well, that story, to be honest, I think only two people remember that; me and you.
Brad Kearns: What about your dad?
Dave Kobrine: He might too.
Brad Kearns: He was probably like my dad when my dad filmed my comeback on the last lap of the city finals when I was in the last place and passed a bunch of people and dove for the tape to make the last spot to the state meet. And my dad diligently filmed all these track meets, and he’d go home and turn on the projector, the reel to reel, the old-time stuff. And then on the last lap, it was like he got on a rollercoaster, the whole film was like totally jumbled because he was getting excited and screaming because he’s watching me come back. So, whatever we got, yeah.
Dave Kobrine: And actually, the game was filmed by the coach. And my father didn’t film that game. And it was filmed by the coach and I actually did see it and I contacted the coach. I’m still friends with him actually to this day. And he moved and he could not find it. And I wanted that tape and he could not find it. So, it’s gone.
Brad Kearns: Heartbreaking. Yeah. And you know what? Like that age where nothing was filmed and now, it’s like everything is obsessively filmed and tracked, and some of your kids’ videos on YouTube probably have thousands or tens of thousands of views.
Dave Kobrine: Actually, one of them has 2 million.
Brad Kearns: Is it the face plant one that has 2 million? Oh boy, I guess we’ll have to jump to your kids now. But I want to pick up with the UCLA basketball career.
Dave Kobrine: What we talked about is pretty much it.
Brad Kearns: Okay, we’re going to put the kids on hold for a second. So, you told me something very interesting about your UCLA experience there, and going up and practice against these – a lot of people call them the best guard tandem in the nation, and they called them the quickest and fastest guys; Rocket Rod Foster, Michael Holton. They were just top, top guys. And so, this is, like you said, it was such an intense experience that you really didn’t need … you could say goodbye to basketball because you’d accomplished more than you’d ever thought you could.
Dave Kobrine: Yeah. It was really a neat experience. And in fact, I don’t know how many, I think six or seven guys on our team that year played in the NBA. So, it was a very powerful team.
Brad Kearns: Is that all? Six or seven?
Dave Kobrine: Something like that, including Mark Eaton.
Brad Kearns: Oh, sure.
Dave Kobrine: Tenure career.
Brad Kearns: Mark Eaton, seven-foot four center. I think they found him fixing cars, and they said, “You should go to JC and play …” He was like 24-years-old, right? And he ended up going all the way to the NBA. Had a great career blocking shots for the Jazz.
Dave Kobrine: Right, and he didn’t play on our team. He played in the UCLA, but when he got to UCLA, they found a role for him. But yeah, everyday in practice, I’d either be chasing … Rocket Rod Foster was probably one of the fastest guys in-
Brad Kearns: Probably, one of the fastest guys ever to play in the NBA. If you don’t believe us, look on YouTube or something. I mean, this guy was unbelievable. His career was cut short with a terrible car wreck, but he had a good time in the Phoenix Suns and elsewhere.
Dave Kobrine: He messed up his legs. He was fine physically after that, except he just couldn’t play basketball. And then the other guy, Michael Holton, he was a monster guy. He was like probably six-four, 200 and some odd pounds. So, their games were completely opposite. One was a big, strong athletic kid. The other was just a rocket. So, it was fun everyday. But yeah, that’s true. After that season, I was done. I mean, I was burnt out. And coach Brown left as well. So, the whole thing or the team changed after Larry Brown came in.
Brad Kearns: Were you a senior or you had more time at UCLA?
Dave Kobrine: No, that was my sophomore year.
Brad Kearns: Oh, so only your sophomore year. Did you get on the court? Did you get a stat line like Mark Titus? A trillion.
Dave Kobrine: Bill Walton, Lew Alcindor, Marcus Johnson and me. We were all on scoring list. Different places but we were all there.
Brad Kearns: He’s played at Pauley. Okay, let me ask you a serious question. Like, did that distinction that you actually played for the number one team in the nation, you were on that team, did that-
Dave Kobrine: At that time, we never win. We lost in the playoffs.
Brad Kearns: Yeah, but you had that credit. Like you had a cup of coffee at the highest, highest level. Did that like affect you the rest of your life? Did it open doors for you or any of that stuff?
Dave Kobrine: No, not really, because quite honestly, like I said, I was the 13th man in a 12-man team. So, I didn’t really promote it too much. In fact, I’m kind of embarrassed by it. If I was out there actually playing everyday, then yeah, it’d be more … but I played a few games. So, it’s nothing to promote.
Brad Kearns: Yeah, but it’s so far beyond possibly that you dreamed even in high school.
Dave Kobrine: Well, actually when I was a 10, the assistant coach at UCLA was a father of one of the kids on my team and apparently, when I was 10, I went up to him and asked him – so, Denny Crum-
Brad Kearns: He won a title at Louisville.
Dave Kobrine: I went up to him and said, “Mr. Crum, so, I when I get to UCLA, where do I pick up my uniform? I’m kind of worried?” Apparently, I did that.
Brad Kearns: Wow. I mean, just as a kid, some of those visions though are pretty powerful and you kind of, I guess you imagined it or envisioned it. What about knocking on Brown’s door? I mean, you were buoyed by a great season on the JV where you were one of the leading scorers and the JV team would play against other schools and so forth. So, it was pretty serious.
Dave Kobrine: Yeah, we played a variety of types of schools. I don’t even remember. I mean, I think we played like, some of the junior colleges and … I don’t remember who we played.
Brad Kearns: Take on all comers, whoever wants piece of that. So, the interesting thing for me back at that time was we were just absolutely marveling that my running buddy Steve – your younger brother who I was very close with, and we ran together. But like his older brother was on UCLA Basketball. And it was just mind-blowing. Because remember, this is like sold out every game.
John Wooden’s legacy, it’s getting a little dusty. It was four years after the last title or six years after the last title. But that place still rocked and you’d go and get your program at the door and it’d say, “FYI, UCLA’s record at Pauley Pavilion is 88 and 3.” For a while, it was so impressive. I don’t know if they talk about it anymore.
But it was like they never lost there. It was just amazing. And here you are, this guy from the neighborhood. Once in a while, you’d come in and out of the house and we’d be like, “Hey Dave, how’s basketball at UCLA?” You’re like, “Pretty good. What are you watching?” “Surf Punks. Yeah, Surf Punks on people’s car, come and watch.” We’d watch this tape over and over. Oh my gosh.
There’s another missing video. Those are my three missing videos that I’d kill anything. I actually, called the KTLA Channel 9 or 11 or whatever, and I said, “I want to buy this video. I’ll pay any price. Just find it in your archives.” “Oh, no, we’re not allowed to.” So, it just stays in the memory banks.
But what was cool at that time was like soon after, we catch wind that you’re training for this other crazy athletic event. You’ve transitioned entirely off the basketball court and into some fun new challenge back then.
Dave Kobrine: Yeah, I burnt out from basketball. I was not planning to play anymore after that, at least competitively at school. And I watched the – I think it was February 1982 Ironman and saw Julie Moss crawling across the finish line. And I said, “That sounds interesting.” And I had remembered reading the article in Sports Illustrated, I think it was about Tom Warren. I don’t know what year that was, about ‘80, ‘81. And so, I had put it in my mind. And so, I said, “You know what? I’m going to do the Ironman.” And I had no experience in any of those sports whatsoever.
Brad Kearns: You were running up and down the basketball court, I guess.
Dave Kobrine: Yeah, but mainly the pool.
Brad Kearns: That’s okay. It’s only 2.4 miles.
Dave Kobrine: And so, I think what I did was, … that was February, and I think I did a few easy triathlons or shorter triathlons in that fall. And I remember getting a pool. I think I went up down the pool once for 50 or 100 yards and I was done. I go, “Oh my God.” It was crazy. Then I got injured in that, but I applied for the Ironman of ’83, and I got in. And so, I go, “Okay. Now, I better start training.” And I remember the very first time-
Brad Kearns: It’s kind of like our college story of I applied to the school and I got in, because now like you ain’t applying to the Ironman getting in, you got to get your ass all over the world and do some Ironman qualifiers. Now, I think the only qualifiers are full distance. You used to be able to do a half. I think you can still buy your way in like this charitable thing for like 10 grand. So, I assume the entry fee was less for you in ‘83.
Dave Kobrine: I don’t remember that. But what I do remember, it was October 23rd and I had done no training-
Brad Kearns: That’s your brother’s birthday. Steve’s got his name dropped. We took care of him. Okay.
Dave Kobrine: Well, you mentioned him earlier.
Brad Kearns: Oh, that’s right. Yeah. We didn’t mention who some people call the best athlete in the whole family; Rob Kobrine, but now we did.
Dave Kobrine: Very good athlete.
Brad Kearns: He’s like Cooper Manning though. He’s the unsung. Cooper Manning, they said he was the best athlete in the Manning Family, like by a large margin. He was an incredible wide receiver and then he couldn’t play. He had a spinal issue, so we never got to see him. He was the NFL prospect wide receiver.
Dave Kobrine: His brothers did all right, though.
Brad Kearns: Brothers did okay. They’re covering for him.
Dave Kobrine: Yeah, true. Rob is probably the best all-around athlete. I had to start training and I remember May 1st was my first training day. I went to Drake Stadium and ran one lap. And I go, “Oh boy.”
Brad Kearns: Wait, you got in before you started training?
Dave Kobrine: Well yeah, I had some sort of injury that I was trying to get over. And so, I did no training whatsoever for at least four or five months.
Brad Kearns: You’re just sitting on that entry?
Dave Kobrine: Well, no, the entry came in right around then.
Brad Kearns: Yeah, yeah. Oh my gosh.
Dave Kobrine: So, I got there. I went to Drake Stadium and ran one lap. And I got in the pool, I may have swum maybe 100 yards.
Brad Kearns: Sunset Canyon Recreation Center, watch out, make way in lane 12. Here comes an Ironman entrant. Probably the only kid at UCLA that was destined for the Ironman at that point.
Dave Kobrine: Yeah, people didn’t know about it back then, but they do now.
Brad Kearns: They would have made a lane for you now. But back then, you’re probably like watching out for kickboards.
Dave Kobrine: Well, I do remember being at the pool and I was struggling with swimming because I had no formal training. I saw some guy in the pool going back and forth, back and forth. I go, “Yeah, it looks so easy.” I would just try to watch that guy. Turned out it was Brian Goodell.
Brad Kearns: Time for Google. I think he had the World Record in distance-free, possibly an Olympic gold or an Olympic medal.
Dave Kobrine: I think he got Olympic gold.
Brad Kearns: Yeah, one of the great all-time American swimmers. He was out of UCLA, which had a dynasty team until they canceled the program. But they had some good swimmers coming out of that pool. Did you get any tips from him?
Dave Kobrine: No, I didn’t know at the time that was Brian Goodell. I found out later. “This guy really knows how to swim.” He made it look so easy. Anyway, I spent the whole summer just biking, swimming and running and went out and did it.
Brad Kearns: Yeah. And so, then you were in and out of the house a lot and we’d just get these reports like, “What did you do today Dave?” “Well, I rode to the beach, rode down the coast, rode to Brentwood, rode back over the hill. It was 54 miles.” “54 miles? Wow.” But that was my first exposure to someone who was actually doing this crazy Ironman thing. And I had a great impression and I guess I followed a couple few years later … or actually, no, the year is ‘84. You did the Ironman in ‘83.
Dave Kobrine: ’83, yeah.
Brad Kearns: So, I got totally captivated by the sport in ‘84. And it was just like, I give you credit for that, and also the cold-water plunge. You were the predecessor.
Dave Kobrine: Well, you took it to a different level.
Brad Kearns: So, the ‘83 is coming up, you had a year to prepare, in other words.
Dave Kobrine: Well, I had May 1st to October.
Brad Kearns: Oh, that’s right. Yeah.
Dave Kobrine: 1st October is when I did it.
Brad Kearns: Oh, that’s plenty of time, right?
Dave Kobrine: I only worked four hours a day, so I had all afternoon. I’d go to work, take a nap and then train.
Brad Kearns: So, that was the summertime?
Dave Kobrine: That was the summertime.
Brad Kearns: What was your job?
Dave Kobrine: I actually worked at an actuarial consulting firm in the morning.
Brad Kearns: Oh, they were one of those sponsors that gave you that perfunctory role like Robby Benson work in the automatic sprinklers on the movie One on One?
Dave Kobrine: No, it wasn’t quite like that.
Brad Kearns: They pushed you pretty hard at the workplace. So, you went over there. What did you think of it? I mean, today it’s the scene of unsurpassed with the branding and the massive crowds and all that. But I think it was kind of more low-key back then.
Dave Kobrine: Yeah. I don’t remember a whole lot about it. I forget how many years ago that was, a lot.
Brad Kearns: 30 something years.
Dave Kobrine: 30 something years ago. But I remember the core experience. Extremely windy and I have visions of guys in front of me been thrown off the bike. That’s what I remember.
Brad Kearns: For real?
Dave Kobrine: Yeah.
Brad Kearns: They get thrown off the bike.
Dave Kobrine: They get thrown off the bike. They were on the ground going out to [Havi 00:41:19], I remember that.
Brad Kearns: No one talks about that enough. Like you hear just as an offhanded thing, but people to this day, especially the small females in their aero position, they’ll just get blown right off their bike and into the lava.
Dave Kobrine: I saw several people get … they didn’t get thrown to the lava, but they were on the ground by wind gusts. The other thing I really remember is, thankfully remembering is waking up the night after doing it, waking up and feeling tired, thinking to myself, “Oh my God, how am I going to do that race? I’m so tired right now.” And I had forgotten that I had already done it.
Brad Kearns: It’s like a dream state. Wow. That’s incredible. Then you get to full consciousness and that was probably your most celebratory moment, even better than the finish line. “I did it. Wow.” So, you’re still a college student at this time?
Dave Kobrine: Yeah.
Brad Kearns: That’s incredible.
Dave Kobrine: It was like my second year, third year.
Brad Kearns: I mean, was there any other young guys there?
Dave Kobrine: No, not that I knew of. I actually trained and got some of my high school friends, convinced them to come out there and do some triathlons. So, I did a lot of training with some of my high school friends. Bike with Mark Leonard quite a bit and ran with Tim Everett. [Inaudible 00:42:39] out there doing triathlons.
Brad Kearns: Yeah, these were guys that were just all basketball and then they were broadening their horizons.
Dave Kobrine: Stu Heilsberg, went out there, did some big races.
Brad Kearns: All these guys are getting plugged. This show is going to be like – it’s going to have a spike in the listener downloads because you’re going to go, “Listen to your show, you might hear your name.” Oh my God, Stu, he was my neighbor and that guy shot more baskets than maybe the entire team put together. So, I would give that guy a plug. I mean, he was out there shooting day and night. Like you’d never not see him shooting. If you did you, there was something wrong. And you get to go ring on the doors to see if he was okay.
Okay. So, you finished the Ironman. You got that off your bucket list. Varsity basketball for the NCAA, number one ranked team – got that on your list. And then as you plunged into adult life, what was your fitness commitment like over the years?
Dave Kobrine: It’s evolved a lot. For a long period of time, I had this routine schedule that I did every year. In the spring, I would play 9 Foot basketball with my high school friends. We’d meet every Sunday at the, I think it was Brentwood Elementary School and play from like March till June.
Brad Kearns: What about Goodstein? Was he out there? I wanted to drop his name in there because I don’t know if he’ll get a mentioned otherwise.
Dave Kobrine: Yeah. Glenn was out there playing basketball every Sunday. He didn’t do any triathlons, but he did do a marathon.
Brad Kearns: A marathon, congratulations to him, wow.
Dave Kobrine: Another basketball friend.
Brad Kearns: When’s your next marathon, Glenn? Thanks for listening. Oh, he’s back on the golf course. He’s away from his phone. Very good golfer, very naturally talented golfer that should practice more and get lessons. But he’s got the athleticism.
You guys were a really special team and a special group of guys that went a long way and even though it was a long time ago, it was very, very competitive and possibly I wonder how you guys would stack up against today’s good high school team. It’d be interesting.
Dave Kobrine: I could tell you. I mean, I look at the way high school basketball is now and my kids and the way we played, and you see evolution in front of you. I mean it’s a totally different … These guys play like the colleges played 30 years ago.
Brad Kearns: Because it’s just so much more sophisticated, starting in fifth grade.
Dave Kobrine: Yeah, athleticism is so much better now. But I won’t tell my kids this.
Brad Kearns: You’ll just keep dropping little hints about-
Dave Kobrine: We could have beat you guys.
Brad Kearns: Would have been at overtime, but … So, the 9 Foot Tournament came around once a year.
Dave Kobrine: Once a year, we’d play from the spring, played the big 9 Foot Tournament. And as soon as that was over, I went directly to beach volleyball. I played beach volleyball all summer.
Brad Kearns: And was that like pickup or was there-?
Dave Kobrine: Yeah, two and two beach volleyball.
Brad Kearns: Just show up and play. Oh, and tournament’s as well?
Dave Kobrine: Yeah, we played tournaments.
Brad Kearns: Who was your partner?
Dave Kobrine: I actually played with Rob a couple of times, my brother, Rob. And I had another partner that I played with, a guy named Chris Barney. And we used to play tournaments all the time.
Brad Kearns: So, what’s cool is like you had these dates on the calendar and I’m seeing now at my age and trying to calibrate my goals toward longevity and health and balancing in my busy life, right? Instead of just training all day like I had for that certain phase of my life. But I think it’s really healthy to have something up there on the wall, knowing that it’s coming up and you can point toward it and it’ll sort of keep you honest and focused to stay in shape even though it’s five months prior.
Dave Kobrine: Yeah. This is not really about staying in shape. This is enjoying sports, competing, having fun. And so, one of the things that’s clear is I like variety. And so, I had the basketball in the spring and then the summer was volleyball. And then as soon as Thanksgiving came, I would start training for the marathon. Training back then is not like what it is now. And I would run the LA Marathon every year with my father.
Brad Kearns: Oh really? How many times did you do that?
Dave Kobrine: We did it quite a few years. I mean, I don’t know, maybe six, seven, eight, nine years.
Brad Kearns: Oh, so your father, Ron, his nickname is “Run Like Ron”, your nickname’s “All World”. This guy was quietly in the background. He was one of the most inspirational guys for my running career, because this guy was so tough and he was just out there plugging away no matter what. And he’d had this group of his buddies in the morning that ran at 5:30 AM every single morning in the [inaudible 00:47:01]. And he dragged Steve along and Steve would drag me along and we’d get out there with these guys.
They just had such a great time. It’d be so social and cracking jokes. And meanwhile, they’re actually quite accomplished runners. Unlike a lot of people today are out there just plotting along. But these guys, while they were having fun and being low-key and not serious, your dad went out to Boston, the pinnacle for any marathoner, over the past several decades and he ran 30 in a row?
Dave Kobrine: 30 consecutive, yes.
Brad Kearns: Only starting when he was in his mid-40s.
Dave Kobrine: I think he started when he was about 40.
Brad Kearns: Right, and he was routinely under three hours, going-
Dave Kobrine: Yeah, he wasn’t just running. I mean, he ran them fast. He ran them really fast.
Brad Kearns: And I interview him in my book, “Primal Endurance”. And it’s a great finish to the book in the back chapter there. Because he says, “There wasn’t any of this attention-grabbing obsession of like today’s recreational athlete or amateur athlete. Where they’re hanging the medals all over their walls and tweeting up there their workout times. Or putting it on the …” What’s the GPS? The Strava website.
All that was a complete notion, and to be able to be healthy and on the starting line, 30 years in a row is an amazing achievement in itself. And it designates that he didn’t get into that overtraining spiral, which is so common now when people are so driven and focused on results or going for the podium or whatever crazy notions they have that are causing them to break from a healthy approach.
So, I think what your dad did was an amazing athletic accomplishment, but he did it the right way. Where it was part of a healthy life and he wasn’t too … he got over himself basically and just went out there and was having fun. But at the same time, being able to drop in that tremendous competitive intensity, because this is no funny business to go try to run a sub three-hour year after year after year.
Dave Kobrine: Yeah. There’s truth to some of that. But the other quite frankly, his body is able to take a lot more than a normal body. As you would call him, he’s a mule. I mean, he can just go and go and go and not really know that he’s not supposed to be able to go.
Brad Kearns: Don’t try this at home for real. I don’t know, I’ll ask you, like do you think certain people have that genetics or it’s possibly, I’m not talking about their long limbs and their genetics for basketball, but like the genetics of the mind to be able to handle that type of regimen and actually thrive on it and appreciate it. Whereas many people just couldn’t imagine it.
Dave Kobrine: Yeah, I don’t know if it’s the mind or the body. But I definitely think that people are different in that way. And he and I are very different that way. I mean, I couldn’t do what he did. I’d break down. My body will break down. That’s why I don’t run marathons as much as he did. I don’t know how many, 100 and something on marathons and 50-mile runs and all these races. His mind or body or both were built for that.
Brad Kearns: Oh, this guy, I got two stories that just blow your mind. One of them was in the valley on a very, very hot smoggy day. It was like 111. No kidding, not exaggerating. Used to get up that high. And we had a real smog problem back then in the ‘80s and which has gotten so nicely cleared up by the approved emissions in the LA basin, right? But he was running home from work which is over there on the west side of Los Angeles, over 20 miles. And he was like a couple of miles from home, but he had that giant steep hill to climb on Winnetka.
So, he was like several hundred feet below his house, and it was so hot and smoggy. I was like, I didn’t even want to go out in the car that day. And he’s running along and we see him and he’s just drenched in sweat. He does not look great. He’s just suffering and I’m like, “Let me give you a ride.” He’s like, “No way, I don’t want it.” I’m like, “Please, it’s to smoggy.” It was like a Smog Alert Day which happened all the time back then.
Dave Kobrine: He probably said, “What smog?” He was just like powering through.
Brad Kearns: Didn’t even notice it. And then the other one was when he ran the Way Too Cool 50K up where I was living. I was living on the course at that time. So, I was kind of like helping these guys out, get to the race start and had his clothing or gear in my car because he was finishing the 50K trail run, a very difficult trail run. And then immediately going in his rental car to the Oakland Airport, flying home so that he could run the LA Marathon the following day. Probably one of those days when you were joining him. I don’t know what you did on the Saturday before that LA Marathon. Probably, sauna and an ice bath or whatever.
But he had no time to go over to my house and shower because he was worried about catching the flight. And so, we’re standing by the car and he’s like, “Do you have anything like a towel in your car?” And I’m like, “Let me check,” and there was nothing in there except for the check oil rag. And his eyes lit up, when I reach for this thing and I had it in my hand. It hadn’t checked too many oil, so it was a fairly clean rag, but it was still a rag. He just started beaming, like full of joy that I had this thing and he wiped down there in the parking lot and was off to the Oakland Airport.
I don’t know who sat next to him on that flight, but what an incredible dedication. It was like nothing to him.
Dave Kobrine: One more quick story on that same note. Is that we used to run the LA Marathon every year. But one year I couldn’t do it because I had to be out of town. And he says, “Well, there’s a marathon where you’re going to be on Saturday, the same LA Marathon week. Why don’t we go to …” It was in Dallas or somewhere around there. “And why don’t we run the marathon that day instead of the LA Marathon on Saturday, instead of the Sunday LA Marathon?” And I said, “Sure.”
So, we went and did the marathon. We were going a pretty good pace. It was like 90 degrees that day. It was in Texas, Dallas. And we’re going at a seven-minute pace and I was feeling great. And then at mile 20, I fell apart. I got heat stroke, and I had to struggle home and barely made it in and I don’t know what time I did 3:20 or 3:30 or something like that.
So, that I would spend the whole night recovering and recovering the whole next week. He got on the plane, flew home, made it in time for the LA Marathon and ran a 3:10 the next day.
Brad Kearns: Out of a 90-degree heat, steamy marathon somewhere.
Dave Kobrine: Yeah, and by the way, he was like 56 or 57 or 55.
Brad Kearns: Oh, mercy. Oh my gosh.
Dave Kobrine: He’s that little different.
Brad Kearns: That’s off the chart. I mean, the only other person I referenced like that was [inaudible 00:53:26], the Western States runner, who was my neighbor and these people would cross the finish line, trying to break 24 hours or maybe a little slower, but it was everything they had. And they’d come in, and you’d see these people that were just broken humans that had somehow cross the Sierra in one day on foot. And this dude would like finish the race. He won six times down 17, 18, 19 hours, whatever the weather was and stuff.
He was known for coming back in the middle of the night and welcoming the finishers, and they’d be so excited to see, here was the winner who finished five hours prior and he’s high fiving you and all that. And then the next afternoon, he would be at the Kiddie Pool, the community pool with his kids. And my kids are out there, and he’d just be reading the paper and listening to the Giants game. And I’d be like, “Oh, how did it go?” He goes, “It was pretty good. I got a blister on my toe that kind of hurts.” Besides the blister, you would not know that this guy … he might’ve done an aid station or something. Instead of racing 100 miles late into the night, charging up the canyon. So, yeah, something different going on there, man.
Dave Kobrine: Definitely.
Brad Kearns: So, I think it’s time to talk about those kids. They had a cameo. Two sons; Sam and Kevin.
Dave Kobrine: Sam and Kevin, right.
Brad Kearns: I met them when they were zero years old because they’re almost the same age as my two kids and your brother’s two kids, and we met out at the park in Calabasas one day. I think Sam was probably two and my son was two and so, they shook hands and then maybe they’ll cross paths at UCLA where they’re both at now. But it’s such a popular topic, especially with the athletic-minded folks like us who had our day and now we have kids. And we’re in a whole different generation. And I was really involved in coaching and trying to learn about what it was to be a coach and a supportive coach, but also one that promotes competitiveness and gets the best out of them.
You go on Positive Coaching Alliance and they have all these tips and videos, and it’s a big industry, this youth sports thing. And it seems like it’s gotten crazy and gotten so sophisticated that now high school athletics is like college.
So, you have these two kids that have navigated this thing beautifully and have achieved a high level in basketball and volleyball. So, I want to hear about them.
Dave Kobrine: Well that’s true. Both Sam and Kevin, they’re very fortunate they have some athletic ability and they both really enjoy playing basketball and volleyball. So, it’s a matter of they enjoy it. And so, when you enjoy it and you have a little success, you do more of it and it kind of breeds on itself. And so, yeah, they were always pretty good athletes in the Newport Beach area growing up.
Brad Kearns: So, when they were little guys, one of your goals as a parent is to introduce them to sports, I imagine.
Dave Kobrine: Yeah, well, Sam, I didn’t have to. I mean, I have a video of Sam when he was like 10-months-old, 11-months-old shooting baskets. He would shoot baskets every single day, all day. And he never made one. [Inaudible 00:56:24] that we’ve put up against the cupboard was probably about five-feet high. He spent his whole day shooting the basket. It’s all he did.
When he was growing up, he had a ball in his hand at all times. I have pictures of him at graduation, he’s got a basketball in his hand. I mean, it was just attached to him no matter where he is. There’s a little picture, videos of him where he was like two-years-old dribbling a basketball. That’s all he did. So, he just had something in him that wanted to do it.
Brad Kearns: Right, so you’re saying at that young of an age, it can’t be this wonderful environment where you’re putting up posters of the basketball players or putting in videos while he’s trying to fall asleep in his crib. It was just something that was kind of innate.
Dave Kobrine: It really was. It really was. And Kevin-
Brad Kearns: So, Sam’s older.
Dave Kobrine: Yeah, Sam’s two years older.
Brad Kearns: So, I’m imagining by the time he’s four, he’s doing behind the back drills or whatever and he’s going to influence his younger brother when the younger brother gets to two and follows along.
Dave Kobrine: Yeah. Like I said, he had a ball in his hand wherever he went. Kevin would always be looking at him and watching him and always had an eye on him and paid attention to everything he did. And so, he kind of followed the same path.
Brad Kearns: So, how did you get them into sports in their first organized experience and how did that whole thing go?
Dave Kobrine: I think his first … I mean, again, this is small time Newport Beach Boys Club, I think was his first thing. He was in third grade. I didn’t know anything about it, we just signed him up. And it was kind of fun because his very first quarter of basketball-
Brad Kearns: This is what grade? Like third graders is when he started?
Dave Kobrine: Third grade, yeah. For the very first quarter, I had no idea what to expect. And I didn’t coach that team. It was before I started coaching. For the first quarter, I think the team was up 10-nothing and Sam had 10 points. Every time the kid got the ball, he’d steal it, drove it down and it was like a five-minute quarter. And it was really because he was so far more experienced than these kids, because he played every day, all day, and he was just so much more aware of what to do. And so, that’s where he started.
Brad Kearns: So, you started coaching a little bit after that?
Dave Kobrine: I started when he was in fourth grade. And I basically coached their basketball teams; fourth through eighth grade; both kids.
Brad Kearns: Interesting. Stepping off at eighth grade, that was my strategy too. Because I feel like by the time they’re in high school, you turn it over to professionals who do that for a living and have done it for years and decades, and just sit in the stands and clap.
Dave Kobrine: Yeah, and I was very fortunate to be able to coach the middle school teams at their high school. And so, that was just a great experience, being involved in the school teams. Although a lot of people didn’t want to do it because of the politics. And you had to cut people. And so, you had to cut some of their best friends’ kids. Often the team, their parents are like your friends. But that was part of the job.
Brad Kearns: So how did that go for you?
Dave Kobrine: It was a ton of fun. And those teams were … for whatever reason, we had so much talent and we never lost a game in any of them. I think the closest game we had was like maybe 20 points.
Brad Kearns: So, I guess by this third grader coming out there and having his first game and scoring the points and realizing that this success is going to feed on more success and more work ethic, does it really make a big difference to come in sort of with that starting point where you have an advantage and you’re going to be able to leverage that the rest of your high school career?
Dave Kobrine: Yeah, I think it helps. He got it mainly because of the experience he had before then. And I think obviously, that success breeds more success, no doubt about it. Because it encourages them to keep playing and keep doing it.
Brad Kearns: So, I guess if you held the kid back like two years … we’re laughing because I want to bring up, this is like this moral dilemma. I’m taking a survey to see how everybody feels about this. But it does feel, to me, like when you have that early success, it could be in third grade or it could be, like, in my case, I ran a couple of track meets in middle school. And I was this little shrimpy guy that was nothing to be reporting home on the major sports, but I was able to win these races. And something came into my experience where it’s like, wow, that was a profound impact even though at some insignificant moment was able to take that and build some confidence naturally-
Dave Kobrine: That’s your self-esteem.
Brad Kearns: Right, right. Yeah. So, now with all this competitiveness and this strong desire to have a kid become a college athlete, we’re seeing routinely kids being held back so they can be older than … starting kindergarten late or whatever they’re doing. Homeschooling in ninth grade and then entering high school as a 16-year-old player. And an extreme case has been a Southern California news story that a kid was held back twice and turns out he was a very high-level basketball player that went off to an Ivy League basketball opportunity.
So, a life changing, winning ticket, lottery ticket. If you get into one of those Ivy League schools and you’re an athlete, it’s something that’s esteemed by all parents who would want nothing more for their kid to be a basketball star and then off to the most elite institutions in the world. But if you’re two years older than your class, it feels like there’s a moral question here because are you gaming all the kids that are following the rules in terms of age appropriate grades?
Dave Kobrine: Yeah, that’s definitely a dilemma. And it’s certainly prevalent these days, especially out here in Orange County. All the top high schools, most of the kids are hold backs. And that particular kid, yeah, he’s a good high school player. Two years ago, he was … no, that’s a great high school player. But it worked for them.
Brad Kearns: Very political reply there. In your kids’ case, so the coaching, did you have some intentions going in? I mean, you have a lot of background of how you and your buddies were the ultimate teammates becoming lifelong friends. You want to get away from those politics and those evil influences that we see here and there -watch on YouTube or read about these tragic stories of the father pushing the kid too hard. So, what were you armed with going in?
Dave Kobrine: Well, I had very good models. I always visited John Wooden discipline … I always followed John Wooden and my high school coach John Furlong was a very, very good coach and taught how to play and how to behave and how to everything … great modeling. And I just continued to apply that and tried to treat every kid fairly and try to promote and I was always positive. The whole idea was try to be positive and supportive to the kids.
Brad Kearns: Positive Coaching Alliance. Love that.
Dave Kobrine: That’s all I was trying to do.
Brad Kearns: Did you have any issues or fireworks or problems with cutting kids and disputes or meddling parents or things like that?
Dave Kobrine: Not really. I mean, I had one. It was always a very sensitive subject when you had to cut some of your friends’ kids, their kids’ friends. And I did have a couple. But I try to choose to remember the ones that some of the parents came up to me and hugged me and said, “I’m so happy, you did the right thing. I understand how hard that was for you.” Those are the ones that I trying to remember. Some of the parents that understood the situation and realized how hard it was for me. And then consoled me for doing it, cutting their kid.
Brad Kearns: Yeah. It seems like in the workplace when you have to terminate someone and you see the writing on the wall a thousand times, if you’re the employee and you know things aren’t clicking. Or if you don’t know and you’re oblivious, that’s another story. But when it comes down to it, it’s like, in my case, I got cut from the Taft team and it opened up this incredible door to … from the basketball team, which-
Dave Kobrine: Who cut you?
Brad Kearns: Oh, Goodstein says it was him. But I think it was Drucker and Goodstein was the assistant coach. And it was a traumatic moment in my life, so much so that I decided to protest it and come back and demand a meeting. And I dug up a newspaper clipping from the Park League Basketball Championship where my crappy team got destroyed by the Woodland Hills Park team. But I was the leading scorer in the game, because all I did was shoot because we couldn’t do anything else. And I presented this clipping to the coach and said, “Give me another chance.” And the coach said, “Okay, well, you can practice with us, but you’re not on the team.” I was like, what kind of kid gets into a situation like that? So, I did one more practice-
Dave Kobrine: Wait a second, that wasn’t too much different than my UCLA experience.
Brad Kearns: The 13th man on a 12-man team. Yeah, you can have a uniform if someone loses one. But I did one more practice and then I went straight to the cross-country course and I won the first varsity race. And so, that competitive intensity turned in a healthy, positive direction. So, I appreciate all those people.
Same with my college running coach actually who presided over the program that got me broken down and destroyed and sick season after season, five seasons in a row. I give him tremendous credit toward inspiring me to become a professional triathlete because if the running wasn’t such a disaster, I would’ve been a mediocre college runner.
Dave Kobrine: You had to morph into something else as things progressed.
Brad Kearns: So, now these guys are getting into high school, the Kobrine brothers, and it’s getting pretty serious. We’re talking about CIF titles and recruiting and deciding which sport and this volleyball thing which went absolutely crazy, because this is the national hotbed for youth volleyball, Southern California, Orange County. And so, it started to get heated up. Tell me about the journey through high school.
Dave Kobrine: Well, they both competed in both high school volleyball and basketball, and did pretty well. Sam, his senior season, made first team CIF in both sports, which is a pretty good accomplishment.
Brad Kearns: Both sports.
Dave Kobrine: Yeah, pretty good accomplishment. He was first team, all county in volleyball, which is pretty good. He was actually, I mean, if I’m going to sit here and brag about him – he was the third number three ranked player in the country as far as the recruiting thing that Volleyball Magazine had number three. Which is pretty exciting for him.
He went on a few recruiting trips and we got to stand on the sidelines of the 50-yard line of the Michigan, Ohio State football game in Ohio state, and what a great feeling. 16-years-old, and he’s standing right next to Archie Griffin and the whole place is filled with 110,000 people. So, some pretty neat experiences. But he always was going to go to UCLA. That’s what he wanted. And you saw they made an offer and he took that to play volleyball. He really didn’t have as many offers in basketball because he was such known as a volleyball player.
Then Kevin, he actually rejected playing volleyball. He did not want to play. Sam managed to play all the time in the house and Kevin would say, “No, I’m not playing. I’m not playing.” We’re hitting the ball, he would just let it fall in front of him. And then finally, I told him that, “You know what? If you start playing volleyball, you’re going to be dunking earlier.”
Brad Kearns: Famous one liner. There’s another quote for the show, I love it.
Dave Kobrine: And his eyes lit up. And he said, “Do you think I could dunk in ninth grade?” I said, “I know you’ll dunk in ninth grade.” And so, next year he joined volleyball. And he did dunk in ninth grade.
Brad Kearns: I think that’s the title of the YouTube video “Kevin Ninth Grade Dunk”. When was the 360-dunk of this young kid going up?
Dave Kobrine: I know he did one 360 when he was in 10th grade.
Brad Kearns: Yeah, he’s like on slow motion and the whole thing. So, he went right there to Corona del Mar and just picked up the momentum from his older brother and sailed through incredible seasons for both basketball and volleyball.
Dave Kobrine: Right, right. And they both played club volleyball and that’s where you get all the exposure. And when Kevin, after his sophomore season, he won the MVP of the National Championship Tournament and got a lot of exposure there, and UCLA was calling him. And when John Speraw calls you, he’s the head coach at the Olympic team – it means a lot.
So, he called Kevin a couple times and I told Kevin, “Hey, you should go around and visit other schools. See what’s out there.”
Brad Kearns: Didn’t Sam get a car from Ohio State even though he didn’t go there? Oh no, it’s just a rumor? Okay.
Dave Kobrine: None, of that stuff happened. Yeah. I was waiting for it, but it never came. And I told Kevin, “Go to all these other schools and see …” The SC coach had called a couple times and then Sam called him and said, “Kevin, what school do you want to go to? I mean, you’re not going to go to Harvard, you’re not going to go to Princeton, you’re not going to go to Stanford, UCLA is the best school. Why would you go anywhere else?” And Kevin said, “You’re right.”
Brad Kearns: Wow, his brother recruited him, beautiful. So, Kevin just graduated. So, he’s locked up to go to UCLA and start as a freshman.
Dave Kobrine: No, he’s going to be going to UCLA. He’s not starting as a freshman.
Brad Kearns: Oh, I mean start school as a freshman.
Dave Kobrine: Yeah, yeah.
Brad Kearns: No, they don’t give away starting spots. Some of the other schools, yes, but never at UCLA. Didn’t Wooden … was famous for recruiting and saying, “I’ll give you a fair shot.” Didn’t he tell Lew Alcindor, “You’ll have a fair shot at getting some playing time if you come to my school,” instead of, “I’ll give you a house, a car and whatever else.” And I think a lot of the players respect that, yeah.
Dave Kobrine: Absolutely.
Brad Kearns: So, at home, going through these years where it’s starting to get pretty serious and consuming for these young kids’ lives, what was your role and what did you do … you think you did well, and what would you do differently?
Dave Kobrine: Differently? I think, I would probably put a little more balance in our lives. It was just the three of us in the house and my sister lived there as well. And we were just always focused on three of us on sports, whatever sport it was. And we probably didn’t get – not that they got bad grades, but I could have focused more on their grades and their schooling and focus more on reading. Reading is very important. And we didn’t focus enough on stuff like that. So, that’s probably what I would’ve done differently. That’s for sure.
Brad Kearns: You think it would’ve made a difference? I mean, pounding them to do the schoolwork or whatever that wasn’t-
Dave Kobrine: You have to try to find a way to make it interesting to them, and we didn’t do that as well.
Brad Kearns: Did you have any leverage at points where they couldn’t drive to the gym if they didn’t finish their homework or any of that nonsense?
Dave Kobrine: No, I don’t think I did too much of that.
Brad Kearns: Yeah. And so, I imagine in sports, you basically just had to kind of keep them healthy, make sure they’re not overdoing it perhaps or just making good decisions with what teams they’re going to join and how much they’re going to take on or whatever.
Dave Kobrine: There’s some of that, yeah. You do help them through a little bit of that. I let Kevin self-manage himself and he was very good at it. He said to me, he goes, “I’m not going to play club volleyball in the fall, because I really want to focus on my basketball.” Sam, on the other hand, I’m not missing a single game or single practice or anything.”
I mean, when he was 14, he won the gold medal in the junior Olympics, which is the biggest tournament of the year in volleyball. And he was like on cloud nine. And it was like midnight, we were flying home and we’re in the car and he was barely awake and I said, “Oh by the way, Sam, I just got a text and you have your ninth-grade basketball game tomorrow morning at eight in the morning.” It was like midnight and we’re leaving Dallas. I think he says, his response was, “Love it.”
Brad Kearns: Love it. Wow. It sounds like there was what you might call a hands-off approach, especially in comparison to the influences we see around us.
Dave Kobrine: Well, I didn’t have to. I mean, they were self-motivated. So, I didn’t have to push it. They were just doing it themselves. There were a couple of things, minor things I might’ve done. It’s like I had to make sure they were on the right club team because club team in volleyball is very, very important. And he was 14, Sam was a setter, and it was a good position for him. He was a very good setter. And I saw a future in that for him, because I went over and watched the 18-year-old kids play when he was 14. Those are big strong kids that were just pounding the ball. Sam’s not going to be that tall. These guys are six-seven, six-six. He’s not going to be a hitter.
Then the club that he was at, put him as a hitter at 15. And he was a good hitter for a 15-year-old, I thought. And I understand the coach did the right thing for the team and he’s perfect for that team. But I looked at the 18-year-olds and I said, “I know Sam, he’s going to want to play at the highest level.” And when he turns 18, he wants to be on court A1 which is the top players. I’m not sure he’s going to have the size and physicality to play at that level.
So, we moved to a … I called the club and I said, “You know my son …” “We know Sam.” He goes, “We want to maybe move over but if he wants to be a setter, we’ll put him as a setter. In fact, we’ll put him in a position where he could hit and set” And so, we put him over there and then fast forward to when he was 18 and how much I knew about volleyball, is UCLA recruited him as a hitter. So, he actually became a hitter in college.
Brad Kearns: Oh my gosh. It’s kind of like in the AAU basketball, where it’s so competitive so early that the kid who’s six-one in eighth grade is playing posts all the way along. And then he’s six-two in 11th grade. And the kids who were five-four, that were playing point guard, now, they’re six-one. And you wish that you may be focused more on development instead of winning. Did you run into that at all? I mean, these guys are playing on the best teams? And that’s kind of my big grand observation is they focus too much on winning rather than player development.
Dave Kobrine: Absolutely. I tell everybody because people ask me what my thoughts are.
Brad Kearns: What’s your secret? How do you get two kids to have a division one scholarship?
Dave Kobrine: Very lucky. They’re just very lucky. They have the desire and they have some skills in athleticism.
Brad Kearns: Can you share that racist comment you fielded in the stands one day when Sam was performing on the basketball court?
Dave Kobrine: People ask me all the time, “Is their mother a good athlete?” I’m like, “Thanks.” Some of the people are joking and some people, I’m not so sure.
Brad Kearns: What were you going to say after that?
Dave Kobrine: The thing I tell people is that … you talk about the high focus on winning is that these clubs, you really have to be your kid’s advocate in these clubs. You have to look out for your kids in these clubs. Because they’re there to win and they’re there to promote the club. I mean, they want to help the kids, and they do help the kids. But you got to be your kid’s advocate.
Brad Kearns: Nice. Dave, we’ve covered a lot here. We’ve gotten shouted out to just about everybody. Did we shout out to Eric down the hall? I told him to burst in and crash the podcast with his profound insights about following in his father’s footsteps. He gets credit. He’s now at 25 or something.
Dave Kobrine: 23.
Brad Kearns: So, he’s run 23 consecutive Boston Marathons overlapping from Ron. And so, I guess if you put it together, now we’re at 40 something where there’s been a Kobrine finishing that race.
Dave Kobrine: When my father first started, Eric was 10 and he went to every single race my father did. There was a trip that Eric and my father would do every year and my father was accumulating a sturdier streak and one year, Eric showed up and decided to run it also. And now, the roles are switched. My father goes with Eric every year, and watches Eric run it.
Brad Kearns: Oh, beautiful. Oh my gosh. I was talking to your dad a couple of years ago and asked him what his running’s like now? And he goes, “I just walk now.” And it’s like the most graceful transition from that that period of life where it was a really important thing to get on the starting line and go break three hours and have that fun and that competitiveness. And now, just still enjoying the nature, the Nisene Marks trails.
Speaking of enjoying the trails, we didn’t really plug Dr. Stephen a lot. But this guy, I mean, we’re high school teammates. I’m trying to sprint and see if I can do a couple more 200s, and he’s running 100-mile weeks, still. Like vacation from his doctoring job, and he’ll go off and put up on Instagram. What’s on Instagram? Ewildlife photo or something. You could see him running on trails and then there’s a picture of a grizzly bear and then there’s more trails. And oh, it’s going to go viral after this podcast, I think. So, good plug there.
Dave Kobrine: It should be.
Brad Kearns: Yeah, Dave, thanks for spending time here. That was a great show. So glad to catch up and hear about everything.
Dave Kobrine: Yeah, it’s my pleasure. I always enjoy listening to your other shows. So, hey.
Brad Kearns: You can’t beat that morning routine. That’s rock solid, rock solid. We’re going to come film you for a viral YouTube video. Thanks for listening, everyone. Have a great day.
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