Friday, June 8, 2018

Los Angeles Rams, New Episodes on Rams Original Series "Behind the Grind", Johnny Hekker Surprises 'Street Safety Hero Pledge' Winners, Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF), Teacher Appreciation Month, 'Cleats for Character', Ventura Youth Correctional Facility & the Rams Host Play 60 Event

Watch Episode 7 of Rams Original Series

Watch Episode 7 of Rams Original Series "Behind the Grind"

Episode 7 of Rams original series "Behind the Grind" is available now on Facebook Watch. In the latest episode we get to know more about new CB Aqib Talib and take an inside look at Sean McVay's second OTA's as head coach of the Rams.

Watch Episode 6 of Rams Original Series

Watch Episode 6 of Rams Original Series "Behind the Grind"

Episode 6 of Rams original series "Behind the Grind" is available now on Facebook Watch. In "Take Your Opportunity" we join up with the Rams Legends during Reunion Weekend, take a trip to Camarillo Detention Center and get to know RB John Kelly and the 2018 rookies.
Rams Punter Johnny Hekker Surprises 'Street Safety Hero Pledge' Winners
In collaboration with State Farm®, Vision Zero, and Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles Rams punter JOHNNY HEKKER and cheerleaders surprised students at Columbus Middle School in Canoga Park on Friday, May 18 to announce the school as the winner of the ‘Street Safety Hero Pledge’ contest after its students submitted the highest number of pledges (391) to saferoutes.lacity.org/pledge.

As part of the program, Hekker led a discussion about the importance of traffic safety and fielded questions from the audience in a Q&A session. Students also participated in a raffle where they had the opportunity to win autographed merchandise and four tickets to a Rams home game on Sunday, September 23, when the team hosts the Los Angeles Chargers at the LA Memorial Coliseum.

“To come here and celebrate these kids for submitting the most pledges out of any school in the Los Angeles Unified School District is awesome,” said Hekker. “We’re celebrating that achievement, but we’re also trying to inspire them and show them that we care about what they’re doing and we’re proud of the effort they’ve put in.”

Principal Debra McIntyre-Sciarrino believes Hekker’s surprise visit left its mark on the Columbus Middle School students. During the program’s Q&A session, students were excited to ask Hekker questions about his journey to the NFL and his traffic safety practices. As Hekker shared stories from his past and his thoughts about the importance of safety, the packed auditorium listened attentively. Principal McIntyre-Sciarrino hopes that her students integrate some of Hekker’s ‘Street Safety Hero’ tips into their own safety practices.

“My students were very excited and felt proud that the Rams organization, LADOT, Board Member Schmerelson, and State Farm Insurance came to recognize their efforts,” said McIntyre-Sciarrino. “The fact that Johnny Hekker came to school was fantastic. The students felt special and they loved the Q&A portion of the event. I believe anything we can do to raise our students’ awareness about how the choices they make affects their lives is important and I think this campaign empowered the students to take action. Hopefully, they will be more careful as they ride their skateboard, bike, and walk the streets of LA.”

While the event at Columbus Middle School recognized the ‘Street Safety Pledge’ winners, the initiative served as a citywide reminder for youth and adults to use cautionary traffic procedures to improve traffic safety throughout Los Angeles. A total of 40 L.A. Unified middle schools participated in the program and more than 4,000 students in the city of Los Angeles signed the ‘Street Safety Hero Pledge.’

"Students should be able to get to school safely every day and make it home safely every night," said LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds. "LADOT teamed up with the LA Rams, State Farm, and L.A. Unified to inspire students be Safety Heroes and remind adults that they can save lives and be heroes too."  

The program launched in September 2017, when Hekker, the Rams, and State Farm joined the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) to help educate fans about Vision Zero, the city’s initiative to eliminate traffic deaths by 2025. Through a PSA campaign with Los Angeles Mayor ERIC GARCETTI, Hekker supported educational efforts about the traffic safety initiative during last year’s NFL season. Through the Rams and State Farm relationship, each of Hekker’s punts downed inside the 20-yard line during the 2017 season triggered an on-air radio reminder to fans to drive safely and take the Vision Zero pledge at visionzero.lacity.org.

“I was honored that our city asked me to participate in this program,” Hekker said. “There’s nothing more important than road safety. This was a unique way to remind Angelenos that everyone using the city streets – whether driving, walking or bicycling – should have the chance to get where they need to go safely.”

About SRTS: Safe Routes to School Los Angeles is a partnership with the City of Los Angeles and L.A. Unified to improve traffic safety for students on their way to school. Safe Routes is a program under Vision Zero, the City's goal to eliminate traffic deaths. The Street Hero Safety Pledge asked students to commit to being Street Safety Heroes by reminding parents and other drivers to check their speed, watch out for people walking and biking, and drive without distractions. Students who walk to school also committed to look left, look right, and look left again before crossing the street. This pledge is part of a series of Safe Routes education efforts to instill the values of road safety before students get behind the wheel of a car.

Rams, NFL & BWF Announce Grant Referral Program for Military Non-Profits

Grant requests can be submitted to bobwoodrufffoundation.org/nfl 

Expanding Salute to Service, the NFL and the Los Angeles Rams partnered with the Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) to create a grant referral pipeline for veteran nonprofit organizations and to support healthy lifestyle programs for veterans and their families.

The partnership is designed to optimize the NFL and its 32 clubs’ positive impact on the military community by leveraging the BWF’s expertise as a grant maker to the country’s most innovative programs and deep knowledge of the urgent and emerging needs of service members and their families. For decades, the NFL’s Salute to Service has remained committed to honoring and supporting veterans, active duty service members and their families.

“Appreciation and support of our military members and veterans is a top priority of the Los Angeles Rams and the NFL,” said Molly Higgins, vice president of community affairs and engagement, Los Angeles Rams. “We are excited to build on the military and veteran engagement that we do throughout the year and partner with the Bob Woodruff Foundation to identify the most effective ways to impact our nation’s heroes.” 

Veteran organizations interested in applying for a grant through the NFL-BWF partnership can submit their request to bobwoodrufffoundation.org/nfl/. The referral pipeline is currently live and organizations can submit their applications at any time. The first grant cycle will end on Sunday, June 10. Grants for this cycle will be announced in October.

The Bob Woodruff Foundation identifies and fills the gaps within the landscape of more than 40,000 veteran-serving organizations. The BWF partners with community and national programs, organizations and the military community, and advocates like you, to create healthy, positive futures for our service members, veterans and their families.

Rams Celebrate Local Educators for 'Teacher Appreciation Month'
In celebration of Teacher Appreciation Month, the Los Angeles Rams partnered with Educators for Excellence, a teacher-led non-profit organization, to recognize the dedication of LAUSD’s teachers at five schools located throughout the district including Charnock Elementary, Harry Bridges Elementary, Russell Elementary, San Fernando Institute for Applied Sciences and San Pascual Elementary. Members of the Rams front office staff visited these five LAUSD schools to show appreciation for local educators with a lunchtime celebration followed by classroom visits.

“Supporting education is a priority of the Los Angeles Rams and when we first met with Educators for Excellence, we thought this would be a unique way to spread our love throughout the region and show our appreciation for some of society’s most important stars – our teachers,” said Molly Higgins, Rams vice president of community affairs and engagement. 

During the visits, Rams cheerleaders, staff, and E4E volunteers expressed appreciation for our youth’s educators and presented selected teachers with a personalized jersey, four tickets to a Rams game, and an autographed football to be displayed in their classroom.

“These teachers are developing the future,” said Johnathan Franklin, Rams manager of community affairs and engagement. “They’re shaping the now and we’re excited to have the opportunity to be a part of what they do day in and day out. They truly have one of the hardest jobs in America and we can’t thank them enough.”

As an educator at Charnock Elementary, Tanya Angeletopoulos believes the Rams’ Teacher Appreciation efforts impacted more than just the teachers, but enthused the students as well. While cheerleaders and staffers participated in classroom visits, student’s faces lit up with excitement that lasted the duration of the day.

“For me personally, I was very flattered by all the attention,” said Angeletopoulos. “I thought it was really nice to have somebody outside of our school notice us and come see what we’re doing here, especially at a small community school like ours, it’s really special. It also had a positive impact on our students because the Rams made them feel important. The fact that people stopped what they were doing, and organizations like the Rams came to our day and made us feel valued and important is something special. You could really see that the kids had a sense of excitement and pride from the event and it lasted the rest of the day.”

At San Pascual Elementary, the Rams were welcomed with a pep rally that included a performance from the school’s cheerleading team and some coordinated chants from an excited student body. Although Principal Paula Cordoba thinks we should be acknowledging our community’s educators on a daily basis, she believes it’s always special when communities come together to recognize their efforts.

“We really appreciate the Rams being here at San Pascual,” said Cordoba. “Our teachers are fabulous and they are very appreciative of being recognized for their everyday work. Although we should be saying this every day, having the Rams here validates how much work they put in for our kids. It’s so nice to work as a community to celebrate them and to come together because the Rams are our present and our future, and our students will also be a part of their future for years to come.”

Touched by the Rams visit, Harry Bridges 2nd grade teacher Phylis Hoffman decided to wear her personalized jersey well beyond normal school hours. Although her students might have envied her new Rams gear, they joined team staffers and E4E volunteers in praising their teacher.

“I appreciated it so much, I can’t even put into words how touched I was that the Rams organization did that for me,” said Hoffman. “I can’t really think of a sports organization that has stepped up and really acknowledged teachers like that. It meant the world to me and my students were so excited they screamed when the Rams walked in. I was even wearing my jersey after school and it kind of gave me some street cred with the kids!”

Russell Elementary 4th grade teacher Misti Kemmer believes events like these that remind educators that their work is beneficial to more than just their local community but the entire city at large. She thinks organizations such as the Rams and E4E joining forces to support a common cause brings solidarity to the city.

“Initiatives like this elevate schools because it shows educators that their work is valuable to the city and the community for whom they serve,’ said Kemmer. “It makes educators feel appreciated for the work they do every day and it reminds everyone involved that Los Angeles is one big community of people, living and working together for the betterment of our city. Teachers, NFL staff, non-profit organizations like Educators for Excellence, we all have the same goal, to make Los Angeles the best city it can be. I believe initiatives like this keep all of us working toward that goal, together.”

At the San Fernando Institute of Applied Sciences, principal Pearl Arredondo believes that the experience was validating for the school’s teachers, who work tirelessly to elevate the skills of their students in preparation for their future.

“The teachers were so excited to be recognized and celebrate together,” said Arredondo. “The Rams coming out made them feel like a big deal and it certainly wasn’t just another lunch. It’s important to show appreciation for our teachers because oftentimes it’s a thankless job. They’re putting in hours that go well beyond their contracts and they don’t always get recognized for it so when you have non-profits and these big organizations coming out, it really validates their work and the time and effort they put into it.”

“It was a pleasure to team up with the Los Angeles Rams to celebrate educators during Teacher Appreciation Month,” said Ama Nyamekye, Executive Director of E4E-Los Angeles. “Teachers were glowing when they put on their personalized jerseys, and I hope this small token showed our immense appreciation for the work they do every day to coach students to success.”

The Teacher Appreciation effort was part of the Rams’ monthly Day of Service program. Each month, the Rams front office staff takes time out of the office to volunteer with local non-profits. Since returning home to Los Angeles, Rams staff members have provided more than 3,000 hours of community service and impacted 22 non-profits and 42 schools through the Day of Service program.

Rams Host 'Cleats for Character' Session at Ventura Youth Correctional Facility
On Saturday, May 19, the Los Angeles Rams donated football cleats and jerseys worn by Rams players on the 2017 roster to more than 100 young adults (ages 18-23) at the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility as part of the team’s ‘Cleats for Character’ program. Team executive JOHNATHAN FRANKLIN, defensive backs DOMINIQUE HATFIELD & TROY HILL, defensive end ETHAN WESTBROOKS, and nine Rams Legends led youth in discussions about the importance of goal setting, the values of good character, the processes of self-healing, and developing one’s personal identity. Following the discussions, the participants were sized for the cleats of their choice before concluding the event with a football clinic.

“Today really shows the power of sports as we have three current players and nine former Rams out here with us as we aim to provide hope where it might not exist and try to maintain it where it does,” said Franklin, Rams executive of community affairs and engagement.

For inmate Robert Ayala, the event was much more than a round-table discussion and some football drills, but an opportunity to talk about his future aspirations, receive encouraging feedback, and participate in some football drills with players on his hometown-NFL team.

“Normally, we tend to feel like we’re outcasts,” said Ayala. “But now that the Rams are here and they’re involved and interacting with us, it’s very heart-warming. It does let us know that we are important and a part of society.”

Rams defensive back TROY HILL took the opportunity to pay forward some guidance and share some lessons that go well beyond the football field.  

“At one point I was living in Ohio and I wasn’t going to school, so I felt like this was a situation where I could relate to them a little bit,” said Hill. “I just wanted to provide them some knowledge given some of the things I’ve been through and some of the things I’ve seen.”

Beginning in 2010, VYCF implemented a football program to reduce violence, develop some camaraderie and engage its youth in some exercise. The program includes organized teams with scheduled games and practices that take place every week. For many at VCYF, playing football is something to look forward to and the facility will oftentimes use the sport to provide positive reinforcement to the young adults.

“Football is so important to our kids that they often make sure to stay out of trouble just to play,” said Maria Harper, VYCF’s Superintendent Maria Harper. “So I think this experience was really cool for them.”

“It was great to connect with these future leaders,” said Franklin, who orchestrated the initiative. “Individuals who had their scholarships taken away are asking, ‘How can I get my scholarship back? What does college look like?’ People are expressing gratitude and showing our players that they’re inspired. This is what it’s all about-perspective.”

Rams Alumni who participated in the ‘Cleats for Character’ initiative were: George Andrews, Reggie Doss, David Hill, LeRoy Irvin, Johnnie Johnson, Phil Olsen, Isiah Robertson, Ivory Sully & Joe Sweet. 

In April, as part of the ‘Cleats for Character’ initiative, the Rams donated football cleats and athletic shoes worn by players on the 2017 roster to four high school football programs located in the Los Angeles region. In 2017, the Rams also donated a total of 600 cleats and athletic shoes to seven local schools including: Inglewood High School, Morningside High School, Hamilton High School, Compton High School, Camarillo High School, Hueneme High School and Carson High School.

Footage from one of last year’s ‘Cleats for Character’ events can be viewed here. 
Rams Host Play 60 Field Day at Naval Base Ventura County
On Saturday, May 12th, the Los Angeles Rams hosted a PLAY 60 Field Day for students (Kindergarten - 8th grade) at Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme. The Rams PLAY 60 Field Day is a fun and active afternoon of football activities for elementary and middle school students to encourage them to be active for at least 60 minutes a day.

With nine different activity stations, skill challenges and inflatables, it was no surprise that children and parents quickly found themselves migrating to NBVC’s athletic field. As cheerleaders took photos with youth and signed autographs, team mascot Rampage moved from station to station participating in skill activities and provoking bursts of laughter and copious amounts of high-fives. The Rams PLAY 60 Field Day provided plenty of joy for children and parents while also meeting an objective for NBVC, which is to create new educational programs for their resident-youth that encourage fitness, mentorship, and teamwork.

“It’s awesome because the Rams reached out to us and wanted to do this for us, so we were all for it,” said Alex Diaz, Youth Sports and Fitness Coordinator for NBVC, Port Hueneme. “It’s really what we were looking for. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, even the parents from outside the fence. The cheerleaders were especially great too. For us, it aligned with our goal to create more youth activities for the base that are different from our normal leagues.”

Every year, the NFL and its 32 teams come together to honor and support military veterans, active duty service members, and their families as part of the league’s Salute to Service. In addition, the NFL’s PLAY 60 program aims to increase the wellness of young fans and bring together the league’s long-standing commitment to health and fitness with partner organizations. As cornerstones of the NFL’s platform, Rams’ Manager of Community Affairs and Player Involvement Zach Kinkeade believes this was a unique opportunity to bring Salute to Service and PLAY 60 together to provide an unforgettable experience for the families of our local military heroes.

“Our Military Outreach and PLAY 60 programs are main pillars of our organization,” said Kinkeade. “Today, we were able to combine the two and put on a PLAY 60 event to promote active and healthy habits while also expressing our gratitude for the military and their families for the sacrifices they make.”

Through various community outreach and PLAY 60 initiatives, the Rams aim to create an active and healthy generation by engaging youth in activities that promote physical fitness, health and character education through in-school, after-school and team-based programs.

Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) is a premier Naval installation composed of three operating facilities: Point Mugu, Port Hueneme and San Nicolas Island located 60 miles offshore. NBVC supports approximately 80 tenant commands with a base population of more than 19,000 personnel.

Rams Host Play 60 Event for More Than 1,000 Youth From Across Region
In partnership with the American Heart Association, the Los Angeles Rams hosted a PLAY 60 Field Day on Friday, May 4th at Cal Lutheran University for more than 1,000 youth from 16 different schools across the Los Angeles region to culminate this year’s NFL PLAY 60 Challenge, a four-week program that engages students in physical activity and inspires youth to get the recommended 60 minutes of daily-physical activity. In January, the Rams held a NFL PLAY 60 Challenge kickoff event at the team’s headquarters in Agoura Hills to welcome the teachers and school administrators participating in the initiative.

With countless stations set up on Cal Lutheran University’s football field, Rams linebacker SAMSON EBUKAM, tight ends GERALD EVERETT, TEMARRICK HEMINGWAY & TYLER HIGBEE, and defensive lineman ETHAN WESTBROOKS led youth in football-related activities such as 40-yard dashes, flag football contests and obstacle courses. Players would often demonstrate the correct ways to complete each drill and would even engage in some friendly competition with the elementary school students.

“I think I’m having more fun than they are,” said tight end Tyler Higbee. “They have so much energy… I just remember when that was me, so it’s nice to provide the same joy for these kids.”

For John Nuffer Elementary student Cynthia Ortega, it was an opportunity to interact with individuals who she thought she’d only ever see on TV. She didn’t know it could get better than watching her favorite team play on Sundays, until she was interacting with some of her favorite players at a PLAY 60 event.

“Seeing them on the TV is nice,” said Ortega. “But meeting them in person, that’s a lot better.”

Having been affected by some of the issues that American Heart Association strives to support, tight end Gerald Everett serves as an ambassador and volunteer for AHA. He also remembers some of the PLAY 60 events he attended as a child in Atlanta and how those experiences cemented his passion for football. 

“People in my family’s past have struggled with heart disease and high blood pressure so I feel like I should play a part and do what I can for the American Heart Association,” said Everett. “It seems like yesterday when I participated in my first PLAY 60 event as a kid with the Falcons back in the city of Atlanta, so I wasn’t going to miss the chance to come out and PLAY 60…I really can’t say enough about these kids.”

Schools that participated in the Rams’ PLAY 60 Challenge at Cal Lutheran University were: John H. Nuffer Elementary (Norwalk), Meyler Street Elementary (Torrance), Rancho Vista Elementary (North Rolling Hills Estates), Santa Isabel Elementary (Boyle Heights), St. Anthony Parish School (Long Beach), St. Franis of Assisi School (Silver Lake), St. Paul the Apostle (Westwood), Trinity Lutheran School (Hawthorne), Valor Christain Academy (Redondo Beach), Western Avenue Elementary (South Central Los Angeles), Warner Avenue Elementary (Holmby Hills), Webster Elementary (Long Beach), West Hollywood Elementary (West Hollywood), Westchester Lutheran School (Westchester), Willard Elementary (Pasadena/Rosemead), and Wilmington Park Elementary (Wilmington).

The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. The organization funds innovative research, fights for stronger public health policies, and provides critical tools and information to save and improve lives.

Since the program’s inception in 2006, the Rams’ PLAY 60 Challenge has engaged over 136 schools and organizations and over 31,000 students. Since returning to Los Angeles, the Rams have engaged 83 schools and more than 19,789 students through the PLAY 60 program.

For more information about the Rams community outreach initiatives, please visit therams.com/PLAY60.

For more information about the Rams’ community outreach efforts, please visit therams.com/community.
Diary Of A Ram Fan. A satirical look at more than 75 years of Football's Rams history, combined with discussions of American Exceptionalism and almost 50 years of personal experience in the life of a Rams Fan. The history parallels and intertwines life to form a humorous, yet serious look at American HistoryWorld History, an American Football team, and Political Science.