The Los Angeles Rams hosted an NCAA assembly and Beyond the Bell youth football camp for Hale Charter Academy students in partnership with Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). A representative from the NCAA Eligibility Center led the assembly and discussed the eligibly guidelines to compete at the NCAA Division I, Division II, and Division III collegiate levels. Rams cornerback TJ Carter and defensive lineman Elijah Garcia shared their collegiate journeys with over 2,000 students during the assembly.
"We emphasized the importance of education, staying in school, listening to your parents and enjoying your youth," said Carter. "We also emphasized the importance of networking. Sometimes it's not about what you know, but it's who you know. All these skills work hand in hand."
Following the assembly, students had the opportunity to develop their skills through drills and competitive combine stations. Rams Cheerleaders, players, Rampage and Los Angeles Police Department officers interacted with the camp participants. The Rams also provided 2,000 Super Bowl LVI Championship hats for the assembly and t-shirts for camp participants.
"This is an experience for the kids to witness police officers being regular human beings. "We are cops during the day, but we have fun just like them after work," said LAPD officer James Nichols. "The kids were able to see our athleticism, because we all played sports when we were young kids. Not only did they get to see our athletic abilities as adults, but they were able to socialize with us."
Officer Nichols also expressed the importance of the relationship between the youth in the community and police officers.
"It is important for the kids to see us as a human first and an officer second, so they do not fear us. We do not want them to fear us at an early age, but to be aware and happy when we are around. We want kids to recognize that we are human, and this is just a job. Some of these kids are our future police officers, doctors, lawyers, astronauts and even NFL players. As officers, we want to make sure that they are happy and comfortable with us."
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a member-led organization dedicated to the well-being and lifelong success of college athletes. 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 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. The NCAA Eligibility Center is the arm of the NCAA responsible for determining the academic eligibility and amateurism status for all D1 and D2 student-athletes.
Beyond the Bell (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. Students play on middle school teams with over 100 teams in grades 7-8 and over 80 grade six teams. The teams play across all LAUSD, from San Fernando Valley to South Bay, West LA to East LA. The flag football league is an 8-week season, plus a regional tournament at various school sites and a citywide championship.
Last year, the Rams provided reversible jerseys to 5,028 students at 110 different LAUSD middle schools to commemorate the Beyond the Bell Flag Football League. The schools also received flag football kits with ten footballs, 50 flag belts and three kicking tees courtesy of the Rams.
To learn more about the Rams' community efforts, please visit www.therams.com/community.