INGLEWOOD, CA-NFL Play60 will never be the same for a lot of students getting an education in the Inglewood Unified School District. The Los Angeles Rams made sure of that. Making the trek from Oxnard into Inglewood, the Rams community outreach team was in full effect on Friday, May 13, 2016.
Dozens of Rams players and staff members gave more than 800 Inglewood elementary and middle schools students a different look at fitness and participating in exercise when they showed up at Coleman Stadium to get the youngsters hooked on the franchise’s inaugural Play 60 event in the city.
The Rams Play 60 Field Day event turned out to be a blast for the students and the players alike. City officials such as Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts and members of the Inglewood School District Board took part in the activities as well.
It was a pretty cool event as students did a little bit of everything, from running and jumping tackling dummies, throwing footballs through an imaginary target, running the 40-yard dash, going up and down slide jumpers and just soaking up the atmosphere of being surrounded by real-life football heroes.
The Rams have touted their community involvement as a key cornerstone to their core values as a franchise since they’ve arrived in Southern California from St. Louis earlier this year. Once a building block of activity in Orange County (Anaheim) when they were first held court in SoCal, the Rams are making the adjustments of bouncing between Oxnard, Los Angeles and Inglewood for home comfort.
They will also be hitting up Orange County this summer as well where they will host part of their training camp there.
Inglewood is where the Rams will officially play their home games, beginning in 2019. As of now, the team works out and trains in Oxnard, with football games to be played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum this fall. The kids Inglewood may or may not be aware of all of this.
Heck, they may not even care. What they do know is that they got a once-in-a lifetime experience of getting up close and personal with some of the best athletes in the world.
The smiles on their faces and the exuberance they displayed simply told the story for a couple of hours of fitness and fun. Some of the Rams players giving up their time to take part in the event were defensive tackle Doug Worthington, running back Chase Reynolds, long snapper Jake McQuaide, linebacker Cameron Lynch, offensive guard Rodger Saffold, defensive back Coty Sensabaugh, linebacker Zack Hodges, punter Johnny Hekker, and defensive back Cody Davis.
It was a chill event with good music and good vibes all around. The NFL’s Play 60 initiative is a program designed where teams go into their respective communities and help push the importance of exercise and moving for 60 minutes a day.
“It’s a fun day, just a chance trying to get into the community a little bit,” long snapper Jake McQuaide said. “We’re all new out here. We’re trying to kind of weave our way into the fabric of this community and try to have some fun with the kids.”
McQuaide also said that these type of events are really big with the players.
“I hope it means a lot to the kids. I know it means a lot to the guys,” said McQuaide. “I think we get as much out of this as they (students) do. It’s about we’re all community. We gain strength from them, they gain strength from us. We’re there for each other. They support us, we support them. It’s just part of being in the community together.”
McQuaide knows what this opportunity means to the students. He’s been there walking in their shoes. As a youngster himself, McQuaide had the chance to meet a member of the Cincinnati Bengals, who just happened to play the same position he plays now.
“When I was in was in high school, I got to get a one-on-one workout with the Bengals long snapper when I was coming up, so that was like…I was blown away by that,” McQuaide said. “To be able to come out here and hang out with the kids, it’s nothing crazy. Just have a fun day and not worry too much. It’s just having fun. It’s a fun day…kids are getting out of school for it. You’re always on board with that when you’re in school.”
Zack Hodges, who have one season under his NFL belt, said this is what it means to be part of the community.
“This is our jobs. We serve the community,” Hodges said. “We’re a symbol of pride for the city. I think it’s just as important to be an actual part of the city and be here. It’s kind of just a humbling experience to just go out and be free and not worry about the specs of life or anything. You just take 60 minutes to just go out and have some fun, breathe some fresh air, hang out with your friends.”
Guard Rodger Saffold has been around the block on these Play 60 events more than a few times with his seven years of NFL experience in tow.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Saffold said. “You see a bunch of these kids, and you get to work with them and hope you reflect some good positive energy on them that way they can look at us as role models and go ahead and do their own dreams. It’s really good for these kids. I know these kids have goals out there and there are a lot of obstacles in the way, but this make things a little bit easier.”