This winter, the Los Angeles Rams awarded Alain LeRoy Locke College Preparatory Academy and Ánimo Jackie Robinson Charter High School (AJR) with $2,000 each in honor of their high-performing football coaches. “That award was a blessing,” said Ánimo Jackie Robinson’s football coach Derris Orange. “The money that we won was a big help. We’re using it to buy new helmets.”
The Rams recognized Derris Orange and fellow Green Dot coach Michael Klyce of Alain LeRoy Locke College Preparatory Academy, with a banner and funding for their football teams during its annual Coach of the Week competition. This competition recognizes coaches that exemplify extraordinary leadership and emphasize students’ success on and off the field. This year the Los Angeles Rams presented awards to 15 distinct high school coaches across Los Angeles County. At the end of the 15-week competition, all of the awarded coaches are eligible for the Los Angeles Rams High School Coach of the Year competition.
“When the team wins, we’re on the field presenting a banner for the winning team and coach,” said Johnathan Franklin, the community affairs and engagement representative for the Los Angeles Rams. “And that’s always been an exciting time to really celebrate the team. And to engage with the community.”
The Los Angeles Rams announced The Coach of the Year during its Los Angeles Rams v. Arizona Cardinal game on December 29, which was held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Alain LeRoy Locke College Preparatory Academy football team, the Saints, plays in Division I in the Los Angeles City Section of the CIF. In Fall of 2018, the Saints swept the City Section Division II Championship against Roosevelt High School. In Fall of 2019, the football teams ranks No. 16 in the Division I and No. 20 in the Los Angeles City Section, and ended the season with 7 wins and 5 losses.
Big Win, Small Team
Ánimo Jackie Robinson Charter High School started its football program in 2006. The 40-student team has won three CIF Los Angeles 8-Man Division Football Championships consecutively.
For Ánimo Jackie Robinson football coach Derris Orange, being recognized as Coach of the Week is only the start of his team’s ongoing success. “We only had two losing seasons since we’ve started. The first year and the third year. Ever since, we’ve had over 500 wins, competing with the top teams in California.”
The players’ powerful performances and winning plays have contributed to student engagement and a long-lasting culture of school spirit. Orange said that, on average, 90 percent of the students at Animo Jackie Robinson attend the football games. The school broadcasts its football games on LA36, a public access cable channel that broadcasts in the greater Los Angeles region.
Football Is School Culture
As football has become apart of Ánimo Jackie Robinson’s culture over the last 13 years, Orange has used it as a tool to remind his students that college is a priority. Athletics are a privilege, so when players join the AJR football team, Orange holds all players accountable for their school work. Students can only play when they perform well in the classroom. “A lot of the students on the team didn’t think about going to college in 9th grade. Now a lot of the players are looking forward to going on to school,” Orange said.
“Green Dot has really helped to make sure that we have academic and staff support,” Orange said. At our schools, sports are more than a pastime. Through participation in sports and clubs, students develop leadership, teamwork, and time management skills. Each student thrives with the support of devoted teachers that value student development inside and outside of the classroom.