The Rams have partnered with Beyond the Bell (BTB) to launch a flag football league for Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) middle school students. To commemorate the league, the Rams are providing reversible jerseys to 5,028 students at 110 LAUSD middle schools. Each school also will receive flag football kits with footballs, flag belts and kicking tees.
"Our middle school sports program is probably the biggest one, free of charge, in the nation," said Howard Serpas, Regional Director at LAUSD Beyond the Bell Branch. "When the LA Rams came back to town, they did an amazing job jumping in and helping us with everything that we do. You know, 90% of our schools don't have the funding to get jerseys to play out there, so a lot of our kids are going out there in t-shirts, or whatever they can get, tape on the back to put a number on there. So, having jerseys for every student in middle school is amazing and that's exactly what the LA Rams have done for us."
To unveil the jersey, the Rams hosted surprise assemblies for students at Samuel Gompers Middle School, Clinton Middle School and Sepulveda Middle School.
"Throughout these middle schools there is an opportunity to use the power of sports, through the vehicle of football, to unite individuals together, teach transferable life skills, and create an opportunity to play football safely," explained Johnathan Franklin, Rams Director of Social Justice and Football Development. "We are really excited to provide access and opportunity through football. This is a chance for these students to dream beyond their realities and bring experiences beyond just the X's and O's on the field."
Rams Legends Brandon Manumaleuna and Deral Boykin joined the assemblies to engage students in discussions moderated by Franklin. The conversations focused on the importance of education, perseverance, remaining active, and how skills developed through flag football can translate to tackle football.
"I had a sibling pass away when I was younger. That helped me refocus, go forward and not look at it as so much of a negative," said Rams Legends Brandon Manumaleuna. "That is what I wanted to share with the kids because during this pandemic we've all had issues with family members passing on. I know a lot of the kids are having issues with that. I just wanted to give them a little hope."
Following each assembly, the Rams hosted an hour football clinic for students, where they had the opportunity to run through football drills and play a controlled game of flag football.
"We practiced drills like sprinting, running routes, catching the ball and it was really fun," said Sepulveda Middle School sixth grade student. "I felt like a football player. I'm not a football player, but it felt nice. The motivation around me, it just felt nice."
BTB provides a free on-campus, after-school intramural sports league for LAUSD schools. Over 5,000 students within 110 middle schools play in three divisions and over 180 teams. The teams play across all LAUSD, from San Fernando Valley to South Bay and West LA to East LA. The flag football league is an 8-week season, including a regional tournament at various school sites and a citywide championship.
To learn more about the Rams community efforts, please visit www.therams.com/community.
The Los Angeles Rams hosted a school-wide assembly at Gompers Middle School to unveil new jersey for Beyond the Bell LAUSD Flag Football league. The day included a Q&A with Rams legends and a donation of flags and footballs. Take a look at photos from the day!