The St. Louis Rams officially broke for the offseason after last week's OTAs. However, the rookies stayed around for another week of orientation. That included the chance to be a part of a pioneering new stage in the team's community involvement: the opening of the St. Louis Rams Training Academy in Chesterfield, Mo.
The 20,000 square foot facility opened Monday. Decked out with state of the art training equipment, video capability, weights and, of course, a turf field, the building is the first of its kind in the NFL. The purpose of the Training Academy is to educate and enrich area youth, teaching them how to play football the Rams way ... the current way, not the 2005 - 2011 way.
"The Rams Training Academy represents our deep organizational commitment to youth fitness and character development," Brian Killingsworth, VP of marketing, said in a press release.
"We are proud to be the first NFL team to establish a premier facility like this, but just as important to us is our ability to introduce off-the-field educational components. The Rams Training Academy philosophy aligns perfectly with our organizational philosophy of building winners on and off the field."
The place is open all year long. The action started Monday with the team's rookies working with local kids. A three-week football camp gets underway next month, followed by a host of other events with community organizations.
Kids can also have Rams-themed birthday parties there. And in a really neat twist, Chris Long comes bursts out of the cake and sacks whatever kid is celebrating that day. (The last part might not be true, but would be a pretty cool birthday surprise, no?)
Overseeing the academy, contributing to its curriculum and making regular appearances is the Leadership Board. Members include head coach Jeff Fisher and Kara Henderson Snead. A long list of the team's past greats is also on the board, including Jack Youngblood, Marhsall Faulk, Isaac Bruce and Orlando Pace. Wrestler John Cena is also on the board.
You can see some photos and videos of the place below. It looks pretty impressive even from the limited view you get through social media windows.
This is the team's latest effort at community engagement, something that's really been an emphasis over the last three years. Like the outreach with nonprofits or contributing to the rebuilding efforts in Joplin, Mo., these are the kinds of efforts that deepen the connections with the host community and the fans who support the team.
Out here working with the kids... Explaining drills to them. Lol got em working too https://t.co/00gA7Dlk8p— STEDMAN BAILEY (@iamSB3) June 17, 2013