There is a link between Branden Albert and the YMCA that goes back decades, and the Kansas City Chiefs lineman is just 27 years old.
The Chester F. Carlson MetroCenter is one of the first places Albert demonstrated that he was a big guy with good footwork, usually during evenings and long summer afternoons on basketball courts.
Quick feet come in handy for his job as an offensive tackle in the National Football League.
Years ago, Albert also pointed out how that branch of the Young Men’s Christian Association was a good place for him to be. Albert’s mother knew that her son was safe as she worked to support their family.
It is with the YMCA of Greater Rochester that Albert works when he shares his messages of motivation and the importance of good health.
“Especially just being active,” the 6-foot-5, 316-pound Albert said.
Albert spent part of Saturday morning at the YMCA Child Care Center at Lewis Street in the city of Rochester. There he shared with 60 8- to 15-year-olds his new “SURVIVE with Branden Albert” program that emphasizes exercise and fitness.
Albert also made an appearance that afternoon at the Lewis Street branch during the Urban YMCA Kickoff with Kids, designed to raise funds for and the profile of the Invest in Youth campaign.
“We are one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the area,” Lewis Street branch executive director James Smith of Greece said. “Typically, we’re looked at as a gym and swim, but we offer so much more.
“It runs the gamut, from high-quality day care and school-age care to day camps to senior programs. Money raised covers the gap for a family that needs it to get access to programs, or even memberships.”
This is the fourth consecutive year that at least one of Albert’s trips back to Rochester included a day at a YMCA branch.
“Being a celebrity, young with money, it’s not enough,” Albert said. “There’s a lot more to it. I’m starting to learn that.
“We want to expand on what we’ve been doing in the past. Volunteers, members of my family, friends, everyone has stepped up to make it the best thing that we can do.”
About 20 volunteers set up a mini-obstacle course, another course designed to improve agility, inflatable stations for younger children and an area for relay races.
“He showed us how to exercise,” said 12-year-old Danny Speed of Rochester.
The debut of Albert’s program came in Kansas City last year, and there was a session at a YMCA in that city a little more than three weeks ago.
“You want to know how to stay in shape,” said Terrell Shell, 14, of Rochester. “You don’t want to get older and be fat, overweight.
“Then you can’t do a lot of things.”
One thing that Albert says he likes to do is present himself as an example children and teenagers can relate to. Someone from the city of Rochester worked through obstacles and reached their goals.
Albert’s grades were not the best. It was one of the factors that led to Albert moving in with an older brother in Maryland.
Improvements were made at a prep school, Hargrave Military Academy, and Albert went on to the University of Virginia.
There, Albert showed that he could play in the NFL.
Albert, who was a starter in all 16 of the Kansas City Chiefs’ games last year, will start his fifth season this fall in the highly competitive league.
“I’m a lot more confident than I was five years ago,” Albert said. “I’m learning the ins and outs about football on and off the field.
“There’s a bigger picture.”