“My friend’s dad coached a youth basketball team,” said Pressley. “I’d played street ball, but never organized team sports. Once I got inside the Y and saw everyone having fun and playing sports, I was changed, hooked.”
After that first day, Pressley walked to the YMCA multiple times a week.
“I felt accepted there,” said Pressley, who took anger management classes and speech therapy as a kid. “I grew up with a stutter and had been bullied for it for years, which made me defensive. At the Y, people engaged with me and didn’t rush me as I spoke. That was a big deal to me.”
At the YMCA, Pressley received help with his homework, he was taught servant leadership, and teamwork. He was exposed to many sports and learned how to exercise.
“The Y ignited a fire inside me,” said Pressley. “I wanted to be an athlete.”
Pressley played football, basketball, and ran track in high school and attributes his skills to his time at the YMCA. He especially excelled in football. He was the 7th ranked player in the nation for football and received scholarship offers from schools across the nation. He chose to attend North Carolina State University to stay close to his mom.
“I didn’t want to get too far from home,” said Pressley. “I knew if I went somewhere like UCLA, my mom wouldn’t be able to make it to all my games. I chose NC State and she made it to every game, even the away games, she’d get in the car and drive to watch me.”
Pressley played for four years in college and was a fifth-round draft pick to the New Orleans Saints in 2008. He played with the Saints for three years and the team won the Super Bowl during his second year. He went on to play for the Houston Texans, the Carolina Panthers and the Chicago Bears.
During his time in New Orleans, even though he had full access to a state-of-the-art gym, Pressley found his way to the local YMCA.
“My wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, would go with me,” said Pressley. “It just felt like home.”
Pressley retired from football in 2013, but he and his wife, Kristle, moved to Cumming the year before.
“We looked everywhere, and our Realtor kept telling us about Cumming,” said Pressley. “We wanted a place not as fast-paced as downtown, where we’d feel safe, could raise our family, and have good resources around us. And, lo and behold, there’s a Y just two miles from the house.”
Pressley and Kristle are expecting a baby boy in the summer, and are parents to an 8-year-old daughter, Delainie. They visit the YMCA as a family multiple times a week and now Pressley has chosen to join the board.
“I was on the Social Impact Committee last year and I enjoyed it, so now I hope to dive in a bit deeper and further the focus on inclusion and diversity for the people of Forsyth,” said Pressley. “I want to bring new ideas to the community; I have big plans. Most of all, I want people to realize how impactful the Y can be to children, adults, and families. I’m the prime example of that.”