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Rams present local high school girls flag teams with equipment grant for winning 2023 Academic Challenge

To celebrate Women's History Month and honor the next generation, the Los Angeles Rams presented both George Washington Preparatory Senior High and Girls Academic Leadership Academy (GALA) with a $2,500 equipment grant for winning the Rams Academic Challenge. GALA had the highest cumulative grade point average (GPA), with eight out of 15 athletes finishing with a 4.0, and Washington Preparatory had the most improved GPA out of the nine local high school girls flag teams that participated. The Academic Challenge was in partnership with Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and USA Football.

Madison, Washington Preparatory 10th grader and member of the girls flag football team, shared her excitement receiving the grant. "You always want to improve and get better at sports. In school, you have to keep up on your assignments, I'm [proud of our team] for getting most improved."

GALA 10th grader and girls flag football co-captain, Coco, shared the hard work it took to balance practicing every day and finding time for homework. She added that on the bus rides to games, her and her teammates would complete their schoolwork. "It's really all [about] the connection we have. We're always supporting each other, not only on the field, but off the field, encouraging everyone to do the best they can academically."

Following the sanctioning of high school girls flag football in California, the Rams 2023 Academic Challenge featured girls flag programs for the first time ever. To honor the winning programs, the Rams hosted assemblies that featured a keynote address from Rams consumer insights analyst Rosa Garza and Rams partnership account manager Jesse Thomas about the power of academics and sports.

"Being a student-athlete is such a commitment. To show academic improvement in the midst of a season is incredible," said Thomas. "I hope these young women recognize they are leaders and trailblazers. They are people who are not afraid to do something first and lay the foundation for those behind them."

Throughout the Academic Challenge from August to December, each team met with an NCAA representative to discuss college readiness, hosted an alumnus to speak with their program about life after sports, participated in weekly study halls and monitored their academic progress.

"We're able to see the present as well as the future here and give [students] the needed tools and equip them to know they can be successful at anything they put their minds to," said Noel Grigsby, Rams associate manager of social justice and football development. "Sometimes you need to see somebody in a position of success. Our kids need that exposure and that's what we wanted to do today. We wanted to expose them to women who work for the Rams and are doing the work off the field."

"It takes hard work and dedication to know you need to do your work, but at the same time, have fun and be athletes. It's a balance being a student athlete," said GALA 11th grader and girls flag football co-captain, Ameerah. Both GALA captains felt inspired and encouraged to have the support of the Rams and felt motivated to uplift women who are underrepresented in sports.

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.

The goal of the Rams Academic Challenge is to empower LAUSD football players 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. "At some point, sports end, but academics never stop. There's always an opportunity for us to further our knowledge and wisdom in the classroom," shared Grigsby.

Ahmad Mallard, the athletic director at Washington Preparatory who also serves as the girls flag football head coach, explained, "We always preach 'student-athlete,' student before athletics. It's always been my thought process to win on the field but if [the athletes] can win in the classroom, that's the beauty of it."

Compared to the $8,000 in grants awarded as part of the Rams 2022 Academic Challenge, the Rams, USA Football and Riddell have been able to double the equipment grants awarded. This year, $16,000 in grants will be distributed amongst four girls flag and four boys tackle football programs.

Grigsby added that USA Football and Riddell have been essential partners to the Academic Challenge. Both organizations have not only supported the challenge financially but also provided the blueprint of how to implement programs that support youth development throughout Los Angeles.

The Rams launched the Academic Challenge in 2017 and have provided more than $33,000 to varsity football programs throughout Los Angeles. For more information about the Rams' community outreach efforts, visit

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