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Rams host inaugural Earnel Durden Black Coaches Symposium in celebration of Black History Month

To culminate Black History Month, the Rams continued to celebrated the organization's trailblazers by hosting their Earnel Durden Black Coaches Symposium. Held in the team's locker room at SoFi Stadium, more than 50 local coaches had the opportunity to attend the inaugural event named after the team's first ever Black coach. Durden attended Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles, was the first Black student-athlete to attend Oregon State and went on to become the first Black assistant coach at UCLA and the Los Angeles Rams (1971-72).

The event included a panel discussion with coaches from the University of Arizona, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and Rams staff about the progression of African American coaches, cultivating team culture and how to advance to the next level.

"It's hard to dream when you don't have an example," said panelists and UCLA cornerbacks coach, Kodi Whitfield.

Durden attended the symposium and had the chance to witness his impact. "When I was a young Black coach growing up, I would look around and didn't see anyone [that looked] like me," said Durden. "To see these young guys accelerating into coaching, especially Black coaches that came here today and learned, I thought that was beautiful."

To culminate Black History Month, the Rams continued to celebrated the organization's trailblazers by hosting their Earnel Durden Black Coaches Symposium.

In 2021, the Rams conducted a survey targeting Los Angeles high school coaches and administrators, which yielded over 160 responses. The survey revealed a notable decline in football participation within public schools in South Los Angeles compared to private schools in the region, along with a shortage of minority coaches being hired. Through conversations with representatives from South Los Angeles public schools, the Rams discovered a lack of support for minority coaches. These findings highlight the barriers hindering these coaches from advancing their coaching knowledge and philosophies and building their networks to expand their careers.

Jovon Hayes, offensive and defensive line coach at Dorsey High School, was able to connect with other local high school coaches outside of typical football conversations. "You feel like you're at competition with everyone in a setting with people you coach against, [but] to see a different light was amazing. To have that brotherhood that the Rams are putting together... now you have people you can talk to and bounce ideas off of."

The discussion was moderated by Alfonzo Carter, assistant head coach and running backs coach at the University of Arizona and Executive Committee Chair for the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches.

Carter emphasized the work he has put into coaching over his career to uplift other coaches along with his athletes. "When you run a program, and you, as a coach, are trying to figure out where your value is, your value starts where you are, with running your program so that your athletes have the academic and mental [tools] to be successful."

Ghalee Wadood, Rams associate manager of high school football, explained the impact of the symposium. "To help the other coaches learn Earnel Durden's story, break down the tough man wall and open up as brothers, that's what I [took] away from today."

The team's Black Coaches Symposium aims to combat the inequities minority coaches face by providing resources and access to build a strong pipeline of support for Black coaches at all levels of the game. The Rams are excited to continue the Earnel Durden Black Coaches Symposium to uplift coaches and continue to combat the inequities minority coaches face at all levels.

"Kenny Washington and Earnel Durden have provided the example. Once it's done that very first time, it breaks down barriers for generations to follow," said Whitfield.

For more information about the Rams' community outreach efforts, visit

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