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Dave Kobrine : Livin' The Dream

By Brad Kearns

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 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.  

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