Besides his NFL veteran dad, Chargers rookie Joe Alt can turn to his older brother, a former NHL player, for pro advice

During the summer, the Alt family, all 23 of them, travel down from their respective homes to meet up at their two-story, wooden, dark brown rustic-style cabin in Wisconsin. In a family full of athletes, these moments are some of the few times that everyone gets to spend time with one another. Despite the hot and humid temperatures, the Alt boys, Joe and Mark, do anything but relax.

Affectionately named “Alt and Sons,” the two are constantly given projects to do by their father and former Kansas City Chiefs lineman John Alt. The tasks range from chopping wood from the tall pine tree forest behind the cabin to once modernizing the cabin by putting up solar panels — on the side of the chimney that rarely receives any sunlight.

“We're fixing a drain. We're moving rock. It's never light. It's always heavy, heavy lifting,” Mark told Yahoo Sports.

Although the work is taxing, these are the type of moments that the two brothers cherish. Joe, the Los Angeles Chargers’ first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, and Mark, a former pro hockey player who last played in the NHL for the Los Angeles Kings in 2021, missed out on a lot of quality time due to their sports. However, their relationship over time has blossomed with Mark using get-togethers like these to impart wisdom to Joe despite them playing two different sports.

Coming into the draft, one of Joe’s biggest strengths was that at 6-foot-9 and 321 pounds, he never sustained any major injuries. The 21-year-old played in every game in three seasons at Notre Dame except for the 2023 Sun Bowl, and he credits his availability to his brother for teaching him how to take care of his body.

“He was very big in the recovery aspects and kind of learning technology and what he found that worked for him and what didn't,” Joe told Yahoo Sports. “You know, prior and post working out just to kind of make sure your body's always ready to go before your workout, and then how you recover afterwards.”

Los Angeles Chargers draft Joe Alt, left poses with his parents, Carolyn, center, and John Alt, right, as he is introduced at an NFL football news conference Friday, April 26, 2024, in Costa Mesa, Calif. John is a former NFL player who was a first-round pick for the Kansas City Chiefs in the 1984 draft. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Chargers rookie draft Joe Alt, left, poses with his parents, Carolyn, center, and John Alt as he is introduced in a news conference on April 26. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

That availability and toughness likely caught the eye of new Chargers head coach Jim Harbaugh, who stuck to his old-school roots by selecting Alt with the fifth overall pick in April, making the Notre Dame star the draft’s first offensive lineman off the board.

“I know the question is gonna come up about weapons … we look at offensive lineman as weapons," Harbaugh said in a news conference after drafting Alt.

Luckily for Joe, his brother learned about taking care of his body the hard way. During Mark’s career, he suffered injuries from a torn shoulder to a concussion. Those injuries helped change his perspective from looking to constantly gain mass in the offseasons to instead working on maintenance on his body.

Mark gave Joe advice on the best methods to heal a nagging injury, or prevent it altogether.

“That's kind of been the fun part. He calls me. He's like, ‘This is nagging me.’ I'm like, ‘Well, have you tried this or that?’ And so it's been nice to have that to be able to bounce off each other,” Mark said.

The mental aspect of being a professional athlete and getting prepared for the shift from college to the pros is also something Joe took from Mark. In hockey, there’s a substantial jump from around 39 games played in a college season. Although the change is substantial but not drastic in football — on average 13 regular-season games a year in college opposed to 17 regular-season NFL games — understanding how to stay locked in mentally during a longer season was important to Joe.

“He had a week where he had three games in a row. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, stuff like that. So, he really taught me the mental side of things, how you persevere,” Joe said.

“The ability to go in and get used to playing three games at your highest ability each and every game and not having a lull and being able to fight through, you know, the pain of your body or maybe the tiredness and still go out there and have the best mindset, put your best foot forward is something that I would love to take with me [into the NFL].”

Outside of tips on being a pro athlete, Mark also is able to pass on advice to Joe on leaving the confines of college and entering the real world, specifically when it comes to moving to Los Angeles.

Growing up in Minnesota and going to school at Notre Dame, the transition to the entertainment capital of America that is L.A. could come with culture shock. Mark’s experience with the Kings and AHL's Ontario Reign gave him first-hand experience on that transition. He described L.A. as a “shock to the system” because of how different the big city was from his “small town” with a “Midwest vibe.”

The solution to alleviate a lot of the growing pains that comes with moving to LA as a 21-year-old millionaire: create a “bubble.”

“Find those teammates that you know, we're gonna be close buds and make sure you're spending time. That's the other thing about his situation. He's moving out there by himself,” Mark said.

DENVER, CO - MARCH 30:  Mark Alt #7 of the Colorado Avalanche skates against the Chicago Blackhawks at the Pepsi Center on March 30, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Blackhawks 5-0.  (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
Mark Alt's hockey career included stints in the NHL, AHL and Deutsche Eishockey Liga. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

“That's pretty isolating. So I said make sure you find your friends, you'll know who they are. And make sure you're getting together for dinners or just hanging out with them. That's what I did. It helped me because it's different. You knew you were in a big city. And you're basically alone out there.”

Beyond his L.A. bubble, Joe will always have his brother to lean on. Now retired from playing hockey and working with an insurance company, Mark has been able to be more present with Joe. With a 12-year age difference, the two had only so much time to build their relationship before Mark went off to college and eventually the pros.

Now, their relationship is flourishing, and it’s not just because of sports.

“I was a lot younger when he kind of went off to college and went to do the pro thing, so now that we're kind of both older, our relationship has really bloomed and grown since he's been gone and since I've gotten older. He continues to give me advice every single day,” Joe said.

“He's still that competitive guy he was with playing and he worked so hard lifting and running and I'm now starting to kind of take advice, not necessarily from his word of mouth, but by his actions.”