Do you know how 8th Street in Newhall ends?
If you start halfway between Arcadia and Wayman streets, 8th Street runs about 500 feet further, at a gradual 50-foot incline, and then hits a dead end.
Every so often you’ll see a couple dozen Hart High School track and field athletes running that hill, wheezing their whole way up, feeling pins and needles shoot through their arms flailing beside them, their legs going weak underneath them, as the lunch they had only a few hours ago dares to revisit them.
And after each grueling 90-second trek up the hill, the runners, with their hands above their heads, will hear coach Larry David shouting advice to them as they deal with what is possibly the “worst day of their lives.”
But what happens to each of those runners, when it actually counts during a track and field meet, when the last 100 meters of their 400 meter dash, or the last hurdle of their 300 race, or the fourth and final lap of their 1600m run, seems impossible?
They remember coach David’s training to keep your motion, breathing, strides consistent. The conditioning worked and a strange sense of gratitude comes to mind as they cross the finish line on what is one of the “best days of your life.”
That’s what a good coach can do for an athlete. And that’s what the Hart track coach has imparted into his son, Brett David, who now is also a coach himself.
What the younger David learned from his dad, and eventually in the Marines, is sometimes to help people you need to make them uncomfortable. And your job, as a coach, is “to be able to motivate them” through it.
“I’ve been told I over-explain things in class as well,” said David. “But I know that I’m doing it because I’ve always just wanted to help people, even if they don’t know it just yet.”
David was born Oct. 1, 1988, in a Van Nuys-area hospital to Larry and Kathleen David, a former Air Force officer turned track coach and an employee at the corporate office for Chi-Chi’s pizza.
“I got a good meal from Chi-Chi’s at least once a week while growing up,” David says.
While growing up, David was never one for the indoors. If you looked out on his street you’d find him with a growing band of neighborhood friends hoping to schedule a pickup game of football or bike rides by going door to door.
“You’d have to knock on as many doors as you could, but you could get a bunch of people together if you wanted.”
And when it came time for high school, David didn’t give it much thought to where he would pledge four years of his life.
“We lived in the Valencia district, I think,” David said. “But since my dad was a teacher and coach at Hart, I got to go there.”
Seeing his dad on campus was awkward at first and it didn’t help David in his acclimation to the already tumultuous high school socio-political landscape, especially since he had not gone to school with most of these people who had all grown up with one another.
However, where he could stand out, make a name for himself and distinguish himself from his formidable presence of a father, was the place his dad and those pickup street games had been grooming him for all his life: the track.
As a track and field competitor, student-athletes are only allowed to participate in four events during any given meet, and David excelled at the men’s 4-x-400-meter relay, 800 meter and triple and long jump events.
Before he graduated, he had competed at a number of national invitationals, Foothill League championships and CIF Finals, competing against the best in both the state and country in his events.
“Before I had even graduated, I knew I wanted to join the Marines,” David said. “I’ve always had the desire to be a leader and the Marines were the best fit for that. But my mom didn’t want me to join right out of high school.”
Taking his mother’s “advice,” David attended College of the Canyons right out of Hart after he graduated in June 2006. But the calling he had to join the military overrode his ability to sit still in class.
“There are some people that are good at that. I mean, sitting and listening to a lecture from a professor. But not me,” David said.
In the fall of 2008, David decided enough was enough and he would fulfill his goal of becoming a Marine.
When he joined, he decided to take the route of joining the reserves, as he had already left high school but could not get away from track. After his senior year, his dad had brought him back to work alongside him as the Hart High School long and triple jump coach and he wanted to continue in his passion for coaching, leading and helping people reach goals they had set for themselves.
However, he still had to go through boot camp despite being in the reserves.
“I remember I had my 20th birthday while in boot camp in San Diego. And I remember everything was done by the numbers. They’d count down everything you did, from how long it took you to brush your teeth, make your bed, even how long it took you to put on your socks.”
David said on his birthday, that stayed “low-key” as guys with birthdays during basic never really have a good time. He stared out from his bunk at the freeway.
“It felt kind of like being in prison. You could see the freedom out there, and people forget that they can make decisions about what they wanted to do,” said David. “But we were there on a strict, strict schedule.”
But for David he says it was all worth it.
Learning how to do things “as a Marine would do it” is something he has carried with him for his entire life. Despite his reserve unit training to go overseas, he never went. But the lessons he learned about discipline and wanting to help others were embedded within him.
First starting as a supply chain manager, David was eventually able to transition to a position where he was a part of the 3rd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, or ANGLICO, a small unit of soldiers who maintain a skill set similar to special operations forces to provide coordinates for airstrikes and to survey combat logistics.
“You’re trained to know topographical maps … be in contact with any artillery or mortar support, or in case naval gunship fire,” said David. “You have to be able to be in contact with a pilot to get them to come in in the proper direction, what type of ordinance, where it’s going. You got to know if (the target) is on the ground or the fifth story of a building.”
David learned how to conduct reconnaissance that involves hiking up the most treacherous of mountains and topography, surviving some of the most unbearable weather conditions and often throwing yourself deep into enemy positions, and give yourself and command a better idea of what’s happening on the valley floor below. In essence, going through hell so the guys stay safe.
After working with ANGLICO for some time, his unit was told that they would be sent to Georgia and eventually Afghanistan, but when his time came, and after he had quit his civilian job in preparation for his deployment, he was given heartbreaking news.
“I got a (M249 light machine gun) issued to me and I humped around with it for six months of training,” he said. “I quit my job, which was a total Marine decision. And at my very next drill … I remember being in a circle with all the guys and we were told our detachment wasn’t going. I just leaned over and put my hands on my knees.”
Life After Service
After seven years of playing a balancing act between his civilian life and weekends spent being a Marine, Brett David was honorably discharged as an E-4 corporal in February 2015.
“I joined the Marines because I knew I had a strong will and mindset to help others,” David said, adding that he never stopped being a coach, like his dad.
He now works as a personal fitness coach at Afterburn Fitness in Valencia, carrying on the mentality that had been indoctrinated into him as a both a student of his father’s and as a Marine.
“Most guys get out and choose a career path, like law enforcement or being a first responder,” said David. “But I wanted to apply what I learned to teaching people who want to get better mentally and kids who want to get better in their sport.”
“They come in and have a bad day and they’ll tell me stuff they wouldn’t tell other people normally, but I’m their coach,” said David. “They want to learn technique, they want to be the best and get better every day, or they want to be motivated and I want to motivate them. They’re going to show up and put in an extra hour and half, and so I want to put in that extra hour and half.”
“People say that I explain things too much in class,” David added, “but that’s just ’cause I’m going to do everything I can to help them.”