On Tuesday, September 12, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Rams partnered with the NFL and the *Anthony Munoz Foundation *to host an NFL PLAY 60 Character Camp for 350 predominately Hispanic students ages 9-13 from local schools and organizations. Rams players Jamon Brown, Blake Countess, Rob Havenstein and Andrew Whitworth joined the event to make a positive impact on the Los Angeles youth through teaching football skills, emphasizing exercise, and reinforcing the importance of character in athletics and life.
Among the attending schools and organizations was Cactus Middle School located in Palmdale, California. Cactus Middle School serves 870 students in grades 7-8 and has a minority enrollment of nearly 94%. According to Principal Tu Price, the students were thrilled to participate in the NFL PLAY 60 Character Camp, especially when they found out that the Rams were involved. Price also found the camp to be an opportunity for his students to learn and grow in ways that are not always provided in a classroom setting.
"A lot of the students in our area in Palmdale don't get to have the opportunity to come down to this particular area or even have the opportunity to come out to a football game," said Price. "So it's not only a great opportunity for them to meet some great players, but also learn some life lessons that will help shape who they are the next five to ten to twenty years of their lives. Just the little things like having respect. That translates from the field into the classroom."
Alexis Ponte, one of 10 camp MVP's to win four tickets to the Rams Hispanic Heritage Game this Sunday, found the Character Camp to be a valuable reminder of how to manifest a healthy and meaningful future. She is steadfast in relaying the message to others and wielding the knowledge she gained to fulfill her future aspirations.
"It felt really great because I honestly want to make good decisions in my life and help my sister be a better person," said Ponte. "I learned that you have to be active and try your best in whatever you can do. It doesn't matter who you are, you can accomplish great things in your life, no matter what."
Hall of Fame offensive Tackle Anthony Muñoz has been hosting educational-wellness events for more than a decade and has seen firsthand the impact they have on youth around the country. He believes the Rams return to Los Angeles and their involvement in PLAY 60 will empower minority youth in the LA region and teach fans about the virtues of football.
"I think it means a lot to the community especially here in LA with the Rams back," said Muñoz. "I think it really gives us an opportunity to get these young fans that weren't born when the Rams were here. So to bring them into the fold as fans, but to also teach them that along with learning football, you can be a person of character. You can do things the right way and work together. It doesn't matter if you're a 300lb lineman, or if you're a 180lb defensive back, you have to work together. Doesn't matter what skin color, you have to work together in the community. I think this camp really solidifies what we're trying to do in the community and I think it's great that the Rams are back and that the Rams are involved with the NFL PLAY 60 Character Camp."
Other schools that attended the PLAY 60 Character Camp at the Coliseum were: Ritter Elementary, Grape St. Elementary, Alexander Science Center School and Coyote Middle School.
The Rams provided all 350 students and 30 coaches at PLAY 60 Character Camp with t-shirts and a pair of tickets to the home game on Sunday, September 17, when the Rams host the Washington Redskins. For more information on the Rams PLAY 60 Character Camp and other PLAY 60 efforts, please visit therams.com/community/play-60.
Check out photos of the Rams hosting NFL PLAY 60 Character Camp at the Coliseum.