The Los Angeles Rams, in partnership with Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), are beginning the seventh season of the Los Angeles Rams Academic Challenge for nine varsity football programs and nine girls' flag programs. Throughout November, the Rams will visit each participating school to lead a conversation about life after sports and the importance of academics to kick off the challenge.
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.
After her visit from the Rams, Taniya Betterson, senior running back and wide receiver for Washington Preparatory said, "Nobody really notices us. I really needed someone to motivate me, I really appreciated that."
According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Eligibility Center, California ranks first in the country for the state with the highest overall number of college non-qualifiers who are from Black/Brown communities and 20% of the state's non-qualifiers are from the Los Angeles area. Out of 500,000 NCAA student-athletes, less than 2% will go pro in their sport.
Betterson also mentioned how impactful flag has been for her during her senior year. "It helped me socially. The football team helped me get a good social experience." She said football also taught her the right way to treat others and how to have empathy.
Gahlee Wadood, Rams associate manager of high school football, emphasized how important trust is within football programs on and off the field. When speaking to Washington Prep's girls' flag team, he said, "football just brings us together, but it's much bigger than this."
The Rams launched the Academic Challenge in 2017 and have provided more than $33,000 to varsity football programs throughout Los Angeles. The Rams will continue to host assemblies for Academic Challenge participants at each school between November 2-16.
Each team submitted the cumulative grade point average of its players at the beginning of the 2023 season. Throughout the Academic Challenge, each team will meet with an NCAAA representative to discuss college readiness, host an alumnus to speak with their program about life after sports, participate in weekly study halls and monitor their academic progress. The varsity football team and the girls' flag team with the highest and most improved grade point average will receive a $2,500 equipment grant on behalf of USA Football and an award ceremony. Winners will be announced in January 2024.
For more information about the Rams' community outreach efforts, visit www.therams.com/community.