On Tuesday, September 24, the Los Angeles Rams donated more than 400 pairs of brand-new football cleats to 26 varsity football teams in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
In addition to the cleat donations, Rams Legend DERAL BOYKIN and Community Affairs & Football Engagement Manager JOHNATHAN FRANKLIN hosted "Cleats for Character" sessions at Mendez High School (Boyle Heights), Theodore Roosevelt High School (Boyle Heights), Bell High School (Bell) and Augustus F. Hawkins High School (South LA) to discuss the qualities of leadership, character, and the importance of education.
During the group sessions, Franklin began by working with the teams to define integrity, passion and accountability. Boykin then went in-depth about his football career and highlighted how important it is to focus on work ethic and discipline. He explained to the student-athletes how fast life moves once you get into high school and encouraged them to enjoy the moment.
"It's important at this time for them to focus on their work ethic, their discipline and to prepare themselves for life after football and how these years form their possibilities of success," said Boykin. "At the end of the day, high school was the most fun of any level of football that I had. Even still to this day, the most influential coach that I ever had, and I have had between 10-15 coaches, was my high school coach."
Following the discussions, the varsity players were presented brand-new football cleats. While the players received their cleats, Franklin encouraged the student-athletes to make a connection between themselves, their cleats, and the game of football.
"It's a connection to football, but also a consistent reminder every day, when they put these cleats on, they understand the importance of just being the best version of themselves," said Franklin. "We want to provide hope, maintain that hope, and build that hope for the future."
Throughout the day, players and coaches from each school expressed their gratitude for the donations and the "Cleats for Character" sessions.
"For the Rams to donate cleats to our program meant the world to our kids and our coaches," said Varsity Head Football Coach at Hawkins High School, Ronald Coltress. "It gave the kids validation that their hard work was not done in vain."
Additional LAUSD schools that received cleats were: Arleta High School, Chatsworth High School, Dorsey High School, Dr. Maya Angelou Community High School, Dymally High School, East Valley High School, Franklin High School, Fulton College Preparatory School, Grant High School, Legacy High School, Lincoln High School, Linda Marquez High School, Maywood Center for Enriched Studies, Panorama High School, Rancho Dominguez Preparatory School, San Fernando High School, Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies, Sotomayor Center for Arts & Sciences, Sylmar Charter High School, Torres High School, Westchester High School & Wilson High School.