Writer Joseph J. Airdo
Photography by Andy Pak
Dave Henry has worked just about every job that you can possibly imagine — from wearing a sandwich sign for Barnes and Noble to selling websites to lawyers. However, some of the Emmy-nominated editor and television producer’s fondest memories are those he made while assistant directing, coaching and refereeing sports in Anthem.
“I grew up in the Los Angeles area before my parents and I moved to Anthem in 2000,” says Dave, who was a quarterback for Greenway High School’s football team. “We were among the first 200 people who moved to Anthem and I ended up spending a lot of time in the community. In fact, my first job ever was at Anthem Community Center.”
Dave is exceptionally proud of the positive impact he has made on a lot of lives during his time working in youth sports. His affinity for film and television work eventually drew him back to Los Angeles at age 27 but, even then, he felt compelled to keep shaping young minds and muscles as a high school coach. It was there that he met his wife Jill, a math teacher and girls’ cross country coach.
A few years ago, Jill was speaking with students about the challenges that they, as high school seniors, faced upon running their final race. Unsure about how they could remain physically active and healthy during their transition from high school to college, the girls inspired Dave and Jill to impart them with some useful information.
“Our original plan was to put together a packet of workouts and ideas about how to navigate the dining halls and give that to them as a graduation gift,” Jill says. “But as we started doing research, we realized that it was not just about food and exercise and that doing something small would be undeserving what they were going to need.”
Dave and Jill then dove head-first into the project, which is now taking form as a book that will be published and released nationally this month. “The Greatest College Health Guide You Never Knew You Needed” aims to be a complete road map for how young people can take care of their minds and bodies into college and throughout the rest of their lives, tacking topics like food, alcohol, stress, sleep, sex and — of course — exercise.
“The need for this book is probably more important than it has ever been before,” says Jill, noting the COVID-19 pandemic has broken the fragile foundation with which youth leave high school and enter college. “Kids’ mental and physical health right now is the worst that I have ever seen it. And colleges are having to cut back in their wellness offices, which makes it even more important that kids go in prepared and have resources.”
Looking back at his own upbringing in Anthem and especially his ability to make a difference in the lives of the community’s youth back then, Dave is grateful that he and his wife can provide information about those resources with the young men and women who are essentially the future of our society.
Students and parents have an opportunity to hear directly from Dave and Jill during an April 29 virtual book launch hosted by Changing Hands Bookstore, which will also feature other guest speakers who will share their insight and expertise.
In the meantime, Dave offers some words of advice that he hopes will help young people who may be feeling uneasy as this very unusual school year nears an end.
“You are going to fail at some point in time with your health and that is completely OK,” says Dave, who frequently visits his parents who still live in Anthem. “And it is also very natural. Set expectations for yourself but understand that you are going to face some adversity and may not know what to do when you want to make some changes. That is really challenging in a brand new environment at that age and you are all by yourself. It has been our goal to provide an honest, funny and useful place to start.”