LOS ANGELES – More than 15 years ago, the North East Lincoln Tigers youth football program was started within one of the most gang-affiliated and recurrently-violent communities in L.A.
Football and track & field programs were formed – with LAPD officers from the Community Safety Partnership Bureau offering support in the form of coaching those teams – to give underprivileged youth in the Ramona Gardens public housing development the opportunity to play organized sports but on a bigger scale, and to positively change the historically strained relationship between the police and the community of Boyle Heights.
One of the officers who has remained involved with the football program for a long period of time is Joe Quezada, currently in his 12th season. His work as head coach of what is now known today as the North East Lincoln Rams' 14U football team is why he was recently recognized as the Rams' eighth "pLAymaker" honoree of 2023.
"Wow, what an honor," Quezada said prior to kickoff of the 14U Rams' game at Salesian High School last Saturday. "What an honor it is to be recognized by a professional NFL team, to be recognized for the work that I'm doing, to be recognized for just doing what I love, which is coaching. So I'm extremely happy. I'm ecstatic. What can I tell you? I'm beyond words."