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Rams host Academic Challenge assemblies & leadership workshop for LAUSD varsity football programs

The Los Angeles Rams, in partnership with Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), kicked off the sixth season of the Los Angeles Rams Academic Challenge for nine varsity football programs.

On Monday, Oct. 24, the Rams teamed up with the NCAA to host two Academic Challenge assemblies for student-athletes from Maywood Center for Enriched Studies (MaCES Magnet) High School and Canoga Park High School. The following day,the Rams held a leadership workshop for eight Academic Challenge participants from each school in the team's locker room at SoFi Stadium. The workshop featured a conversation led by Rams cornerback Cobie Durant and motivational speaker Eric Thomas.

The Los Angeles Rams, in partnership with Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), kicked off the sixth season of the Los Angeles Rams Academic Challenge for nine varsity football programs. The Rams hosted a leadership workshop for eight Academic Challenge participants from each school in the team's locker room at SoFi Stadium. The workshop featured a conversation led by Rams cornerback Cobie Durant and motivational speaker Eric Thomas.

"The students are in a unique phase developing their identity, discovering who they are and their passions, as well as connecting to their why," said Johnathan Franklin, Rams Director of Social Justice and Football Development. "To have Eric Thomas come here along with Cobie Durant and emphasize the importance of education and being the best version of themselves is incredible. This is all about pathways and access to opportunity. This is what these moments are for."

Rams cornerback Cobie Durant had the opportunity to speak with the students and explained why it meant a lot to have conversations such as this.

"It means a lot to speak to the high school students because you don't know what kids are going through," said Durant. "Throughout life everyone is going to face adversities, it's about how you're going to get through it, how you are going to maintain and be strong. It means a lot to have the Rams be in their corner to support them. This will help them strive to reach their goals because everyone wants to be in a good position in life whether it's becoming an NFL player or a professional. Having an event like this for the kids means a lot."

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This past June, Eric Thomas had the privilege of leading a Mastering Mindset session at the Black Sports Symposium in Atlanta, GA powered by the Rams and ESPN. Eric shared his feelings about speaking to the students at SoFi Stadium.

"I started just like these students, on campus at an HBCU. Now I get to wake up and work with ESPN, Disney, and speak to students which is incredible. Coming from the locker room at the symposium to now speaking in the Rams' locker room at SoFi Stadium for these high schoolers is a phenomenal feeling."

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According to the NCAA, California ranks first in the country for the state with the highest overall number of college non-qualifiers who are from Black and Brown communities and 34% of the state's non-qualifiers are from Los Angeles. Out of 500,000 NCAA student-athletes, less than 2% will go pro in their sport. There are 1,006,013 high school football players; 1.6% will go pro.

The goal of the Rams Academic Challenge is to empower LAUSD student-athletes to maximize their potential on the playing field and in the classroom. The Rams want student-athletes to dream beyond sports and encourage them to go pro in life by becoming the best version of themselves.

"This experience is unbelievable! Messages are great but the right messages from the right people, in the right environment hits differently," said Thomas. "They will remember this day and this moment forever. There is no challenge that you cannot get through. Everything is perspective. This event was about looking at problems differently and understanding your perspective is your prosperity and your promise."

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Following the workshop, each student-athlete received copy of Eric Thomas' New York Times best-seller "You Owe You: Ignite Your Power, Your Purpose, and Your Why" and a Super Bowl LVI Championship hat.

The Rams launched the Academic Challenge in 2017 and have provided more than $25,000 to varsity football programs throughout Los Angeles. This year's Academic Challenge features more than 315 participants from nine varsity high school football programs including from Bernstein High School, Canoga Park High School, Chavez High School, Contreras High School, Fremont High School, Legacy High Schoo, Maywood Center for Enriched Studies (MaCES Magnet) High School, Monroe High School, Southgate High School and Verdugo High School.

Each team submitted the cumulative grade point average (GPA) of its players at the beginning of the 2022 season. Throughout the Academic Challenge, each team participates in weekly study halls and monitors their academic progress. The teams with the highest GPA and most improved GPA will receive a $2,500 equipment grant on behalf of USA Football. The runners-up for both categories will receive a $1,500 equipment grant. Winners will be announced in January 2023.

To learn more about the Rams' community efforts, please visit www.therams.com/community.

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