The Washington Prep girls’ flag football team and academic director Ahmad Mallard pose with a Rams cheerleader and Rams academic challenge reward (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

The Washington Prep Generals girls’ flag football team was honored by the Rams 2023 Academic Challenge. The Generals earned a $2,500 equipment grant for having the most improved GPA.

“It was a long journey. A lot of us started off [at a] low GPA but we all helped each other by going to extra tutoring hours after school,” said Washington Prep senior Taniya Betterson. “We all worked as a team for summer school. Everybody came from a low place, now we all improved.”

The Rams partnered with LAUSD, Riddell and USA Football to provide the equipment grant to the Generals.

“It’s difficult to try to focus on school and on sports because you always want to try to improve and be better in sports and then school, it’s like a lot of assignments,” said Generals sophomore Madison Greene. “You got to make sure you keep up with all your assignments and stay on task.”

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Washington Prep athletic director Ahmad Mallard stepped in as coach of the flag football team to help improve their academics while competing on the field. Mallard noted that he helped the Generals boys’ tackle football team win the most improved GPA for the Rams Academic Challenge in 2022.

“I wanted to make sure that the girls have the proper foundation and enforcing tutoring along with regular practices,” Mallard said. “I’m proud of the girls buy in to the whole process and we made it happen.”

This is the first school year the Rams had their Academic Challenge program for girls’ flag football teams. The 2023-2024 school year also marks the first year that flag football has been sanctioned as a sport in the CIF City Section.

“To be able to add that component is amazing with the success of girls’ flag football in the past year but it’s also amazing to honor Washington Prep,” said Rams associate manager of social justice and football development Noel Grigsby. “Excited to celebrate them, to celebrate girls’ flag football and their success on and off the field.”

The Rams hosted an assembly to honor the accomplishment of the team. Rams manager of corporate partnerships Jesse Thomas shared words of encouragement to the Generals.

“Being a student athlete is such a commitment in itself but to show academic improvement in the midst of a season is really incredible,” Thomas said. “It’s hard to balance both in any way shape or form.”

The Generals girls’ flag football team had a 10-7-2 overall record and a 9-5 Coliseum League record in their inaugural season.