The Los Angeles Rams announced Johnny Hekker as the Rams Community Player of the Week for week 4 in recognition of his community outreach efforts throughout the season.
Johnny Hekker is a 5th year Pro-Bowl punter who signed with the Rams as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2012. Hailing from Bothell, WA, Hekker attended Oregon State and is considered to be one of their most prolific punters in school history. Known as someone who can do it all on the field, Hekker strives to do the same off the field. Leading the team with community appearances this year, Hekker is involved in many initiatives, but he’s especially passionate about working with kids through the PLAY 60 program and assisting people with developmental disabilities.
Q & A with Johnny Hekker
What does it mean to be Community Player of the Week?
Feels great! That’s a point of pride that I have, to be a guy that cares about giving back to the community. We’re blessed with so much as players and I think we have a responsibility to give back to the best of our abilities.
Why are Special Olympics and PLAY 60 amongst your favorite initiatives to be involved with?
I have a heart for kids. Being able to see kids compete, have fun, be healthy and make conscious decisions to live healthier lifestyles is important to me. Whether that’s through PLAY 60 or encouraging children with disabilities, encouraging kids to be active is something that’s really important in today’s youth and something that’s lacking. Go play outside and get dirty! You can play in the woods, climb a tree, play “kick the can” — do whatever! Get outside with your friends and have some fun. It brings me joy to impact kids’ lives in a positive way. I see how faces light up immediately when we walk into schools and other community events. As a kid, I would have Mariners players come visit and I would lose my mind. I instantly felt encouraged. The things I get involved with create a special atmosphere and I’m proud that I can do that now that I’m in these shoes.
What inspires you to be involved?
My family and my church community back home inspire me. We had a great outreach and ministry department where we would visit underserved communities that were in need and give back our time and resources. Also, my dad worked for a facility in Washington that was a living facility for adults with disabilities. He’d take care of them, take them on outings and bring them to my football games. When I was in high school, I had the opportunity to meet these people and it had a special impact on my life. A lot of people see people with disabilities as a difficult community to interact with, but through my interactions, I’ve gained the comfortability that makes it easy for me and I see that they’re a community in need as well. To be able to shed some positive light on their interactions and helping them further themselves personally is pretty cool.
Being a team captain, do you feel it is your responsibility to be a leader off the field and get your other teammates involved?
It’s definitely my responsibility off the field, but I think we have a team of guys that have such good hearts and so much energy to put toward things they’re passionate about. When I see things that I know other guys are interested in, it means a lot to me to get them involved. It’s all about giving back to the community that gives so much to us. It’s important to show support for Los Angeles because on Sundays we need them to be there, pack those seats, support us and make noise for us. By our involvement in the community, we’re here to let them know that their actions don’t go unnoticed and we support them in return.
Favorite food to cook?
- Homemade supreme pizzas with lots of meats and veggies.
- Charizard because he’s Pokémon number 6 and I’m number 6. He breathes fire and can fly around, too.
Best and worst stand-up comedian (teammate)?
- Best: David Arkin is super funny because he tells it straight and has a dry sense of humor.
- Worst: Mark Barron because he would stand up there, not say a word, stare at the crowd and intimidate them.
What is one thing you want people to know that they don’t know?
I am the youngest of 5 boys. My older brothers are my heroes and role models.
Describe yourself in 5 words…
About the Rams Community Player of the Week Presented by Wells Fargo
Each week during the 2016 regular season, the Los Angeles Rams select a player to honor as the Rams Community Player of the Week. The program, presented by Wells Fargo, is intended to recognize players for the positive impact they make off the field and their commitment to serving the Greater Los Angeles Area.
In 2015, Wells Fargo team members volunteered more than 41,800 hours in the LA area. This week, the organization is proud to recognize Wells Fargo Community Player of the Week, Derek Drinon, Chatsworth branch manager, for his ongoing community service and dedication to helping others. Derek grew up in a military family and moved frequently, so now he relishes his ability to stay in one place, put down roots, and foster a sense of community. His recent service includes feeding the homeless, creating care packages for active duty military, and delivering gifts to ill children and their families in the hospital, among many other types of community service. For more information on Wells Fargo’s commitment to community service, visit https://www.wellsfargo.com/about/corporate-responsibility/community-giving/