“One time his dad yelled at him and made him sit in my cart, and I was like, ‘Hey, wanna come help me?’ So he looked at his dad… and he looked at me… and he looked at his dad, then he started helping me fill water bottles.” With a player waiting to be treated for a cut, David Holford (2014) handed the football coach’s son a pair of gloves and a piece of gauze in an effort to teach him proper blood care. “And the kid, he’s like seven years old and he’s like, ‘This is the coolest thing in the world!’”
The wonder and excitement he sparked in the child’s eyes mirrored Holford’s own as a young boy, always eager to learn from his parents and interested in their professions.
David’s father, a Fresno Unified Regional Occupation Program instructor, taught healthcare courses at various high schools, while his mother, a county social worker, cared for pregnant teens at the local hospital. One of David’s earliest memories of awe and excitement is watching the informative health videos his father would cut together on VHS.
“I haven’t seen that video in probably twenty years almost… and that kind of started something that I didn’t know and it kind of put the dormant little seed in there…”
With the influence of his parents and a sudden appreciation for athletic training after mistakenly enrolling in an introductory course, Holford went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology (Athletic Training) from Fresno State in the spring of 2014. Just over six months later, he began working as the athletic trainer for Fresno Fuego and Fresno Freeze, Fresno’s male and female amateur football clubs.
While still maintaining his position with the two clubs and later beginning a master’s degree in Kinesiology at Fresno State, Holford accepted the athletic trainer position at McLane High School, where he would stay for the next three years.
Although David was more than happy at McLane, he kicked around the idea of applying as Fresno Football Club’s Head Athletic Trainer, following the announcement of organization’s induction to the valley.
“It was more one of those… I don’t want to look back at my life ten years from now and say ‘Ahh I could have done that…,’ and not taken that chance and I would have regretted it.”
Once Holford secured the job, he resigned from all other athletic training positions and committed to the club full time — ready to conquer a new realm of professionalism and take on the increased demand of elite athletes.
During practice and before games, Holford tends to the athlete’s needs — taping ankles, stretching muscles, and offering credible knowledge. On the field, he stands ready but hopes his involvement will be minimal.
“Any athletic trainer, you ask them ‘What’s the best day like?’ When I don’t have to do anything. And it’s not just because we’re lazy, we’re not…We’re ready for anything. We would rather have a slow day with nothing happening because that means none of our kids got hurt.”
Beyond fulfilling the league’s requirement of a full time, certified athletic trainer, Holford invests his heart into the well-being of his players and cheers them on every step of the way.
“The most rewarding part for me is… once an athlete is injured, having them come back and seeing that joy on their face when you tell them and they don’t suspect it and you just say, ‘Hey, you’re good to go today.’”
Holford realizes the role he plays on a daily basis translates to a much broader outcome, both within the walls of the stadium and the community surrounding it. Having been involved with the Fresno Fuego, Freeze, and now the Fresno Football Club, Holford sees the impact that these teams have had on the rebuilding of downtown Fresno.
“So many people have put in so much time for this team and the front office being as busy as they are, everything being downtown… I feel really happy about being involved in it and contributing something no matter how small my part may be.”
As he reflects on his time spent in downtown and reminisces about Fresno FC’s first game of the inaugural season, Holford looks toward the future with the same excitement in his eyes.
“Everything that I’m doing is for this town to make it better because we’re making this thing last, and it will.”
View the original Alumni Association news story at the LINK.
All photos and video courtesy of David Holford and the Fresno State Alumni Association.