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Rams Recognize San Fernando's Varsity Football Team as Academic Challenge Winners

On Thursday, February 8, the Los Angeles Rams hosted an all-school assembly at San Fernando High School to recognize their Varsity Football Team as the winner of the Rams' inaugural High School Football Academic Challenge. Rams Hall of Fame legend ERIC DICKERSON and executive JOHNATHAN FRANKLINled the assembly in a Q & A session covering the topics of character, education and success.

The San Fernando Tigers finished their 2017 football season with a 12-2 record and captured the school's eighth L.A. City Section title. Together, they worked hard on the field and in the classroom to earn a cumulative GPA of 2.85, displaying commitment to their education, teammates, coaches and school. Head coach Robert Garcia believes it's important to push his scholar athletes to limits they don't know they can reach, both on-and-off the field.

"This is big time for the community of San Fernando," said Coach Robert Garcia.  "I appreciate everything the Rams did for our team. This is something that our players probably won't ever experience again. It's about staying positive and pushing them to their limits, which is something a lot of people don't do. They believe in my system, and my system is academics before football."

Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson echoed Garcia's message to his players and the rest of the student body. He embraced the opportunity to speak to the students because he believes that inspiring even a few lives can make a significant impact that not only they can benefit from, but others as well. Still fresh in his mind are the tokens of guidance, moments of doubt, as well as his decision to pursue his passion of football with relentless conviction.

"I enjoy talking to young kids because you never know when one or two might really resonate with what you're saying," said Dickerson. "My message to the San Fernando High School students was to never give up. Whatever you have set for your goal, don't ever give up. People always told me I wouldn't make it in college football or the NFL. I didn't listen to them…Just keep your eye on the prize."

San Fernando High School's Principal, Flora Mendoza, believes the football team's academic success last semester was a testament to the entire school's staff working together to help their scholar-athletes achieve their academic and athletic goals. As students filled every seat in the assembly hall, Mendoza was thrilled to see how attentively her students were engaged in the stories and lessons of the Rams' speakers.

"I am extremely proud of our football team," said Principal Mendoza. "Not only did they show that they are winners on the field, but they're also winners in the classroom. They demonstrated that San Fernando High School is about academics first. In order to win this competition, everybody worked in concert. Our coaches relayed the message every single week after every single game. This was a true celebration and the entire school community was excited about the assembly. It wasn't just our own students that came, but parents and community members too, so it was a big deal for our school community."

Other notable representatives in attendance were: School Board Member Kelly Gonez (District 6), LAUSD's Interscholastic Athletic Department Coordinator Trenton Cornelius, Northeast District Superintendent Linda Del Cueto, and District Manager Gabriela Marquez from Congressman Tony Cardenas' office.

The Los Angeles Rams High School Football Academic Challenge featured four LAUSD Varsity High School football teams from Crenshaw High School, Eagle Rock High School, Fairfax High School, and San Fernando High School. To begin the challenge, each varsity program submitted their team's cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) at the beginning of the fall semester in August and participated in a character development session in which the student-athletes discussed the power of choices and goal-setting. Following the session, all participants received a Rams-branded school planner for the academic year. At the end of the Fall semester in December, the four teams re-submitted their cumulative GPA's and the program that recorded the highest cumulative GPA for the semester was named the winner of the Rams Academic Challenge and received a $2,500 Equipment Grant.

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