Rams surprise Beyond the Bell Flag Football team with send-off rally leading to NFL Flag Championships

Prior to the NFL Flag Championships at the Pro Bowl in Las Vegas, the Rams held a surprise rally for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Beyond the Bell Flag Football team participating in the tournament.

The Rams Cheerleaders and Rampage visited the team’s final practice and surprised them with loot bags containing Rams branded arm warmers, shorts, rally towels, flags and posters. Additionally, the cheerleaders spoke briefly to the players about team spirit, unity, the power of football and the excitement of representing the Rams in the Pro Bowl. Cheerleaders and Rampage also participated in team building exercises with the players.

The next day, the team flew to Las Vegas to compete in the Championship Tournament, attend the East-West Shrine Bowl, and attend the Pro Bowl to see some of the game’s biggest stars.

“Bringing this team into a national tournament,” said Rafael Acosta, LAUSD Beyond the Bell Regional Director, “we saw this as a tremendous opportunity to really take our students and give them something they haven’t experienced. for so long, also giving them the chance to play.”

In October 2021, the Rams partnered with Beyond the Bell (BTB) to launch a flag football league for LAUSD college kids. The 10-man squad, students aged 13 and 14, was selected in regional trials at the end of the season in November. The Rams provided flights, hotel accommodations and experiences for the team participating in the championship.

“It’s about access and opportunity. Looking at it through an equity lens, this partnership is able to create exposure. For some of these kids, it will be their first time on a plane, their first time outside of their community, outside of California,” said Johnathan Franklin, Rams Director of Social Justice and Football Development. “Through the power of football, we are able to provide that experience and access. They are able to engage with individuals from different states and school districts. So when you talk about the impact of breaking down barriers that may exist culturally and ethnically, we can do that through partnership. Obviously we want to develop football, but it’s the power of football that is most important, the resources that we are able to provide, not just on the pitch, but off the pitch as well.”

To kick off the league last fall, the Rams provided reversible jerseys to 5,028 students at 110 LAUSD colleges as well as flag football kits with 10 footballs, 50 flag belts and three batting tees.

“Working with schools is a special and unique platform,” Acosta said. “That’s where students are supposed to learn and grow. Learn and grow on the field with the kids you go to school with, the kids you grow up with, and then be sponsored by a team like the Rams add. just that special sense of purpose and connection that can carry them forward as they grow as fans, always remembering that the Rams sponsored us to do that. That’s a lot of dedication from everyone the world, but it’s that behind-the-scenes support that a lot of students are missing in our community, especially after a pandemic we’ve been so disconnected, so when teams buy into and invest in programs like Beyond the Bell, it will only bring in the next generation. I think this is an invaluable opportunity that more teams should invest in. We are so grateful to the Rams and all of their support. The uniforms are one thing, the supplies are one thing, but the experiences and memories are forever.

The flag football league included an 8-week season, a regional tournament and a city-wide championship. On Sunday, Dec. 5, the team selected to compete in the NFL Flag Championships battled it out on the field at SoFi Stadium before the Rams-Jaguars game kicked off.

“The camaraderie, support and involvement is one thing. Going to games and watching your heroes, your idols, is another, but then representing them is an honor,” Acosta said. “It puts kids in a different position, especially our kids, to understand that people are invested in you, people believe in you and they want to give you those opportunities. Then when it’s the LA Rams, who are now the ‘Super Bowl Rams’ or the Lakers, Dodgers, LAFC, whoever…it just means a little bit more.Many of our kids come from low-income communities and backgrounds where maybe their families don’t “have not had these opportunities. They may have different income status but yet, on the ground, they are all equal. In our program, they are all equal. So this is an opportunity to bring equity to programs like ours.

To learn more about Rams community efforts, please visit www.therams.com/community.

About Betty J. Snyder

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