The true scrimmage line is off the field for many Baltimore City student-athletes. Too often, it’s a game of high stakes and low expectations. On the other side of doubt, there’s a team working hard to change negative perceptions around Baltimore City schools. Project Rampart, which began in 2017, is UA’s commitment to elevating the Baltimore student-athlete experience.
“When we invest in apparel, equipment and facilities, provide professional development for coaches, and support student academic and leadership experiences, we empower student-athletes to reach their full potential,” says Stacey Ulrich, Under Armour's Senior Director of Global Philanthropy and Community Outreach.
“I would characterize the Baltimore student-athlete as a strong, underutilized group of young leaders who set the tone for students and schools throughout the city of Baltimore,” said Jocelyn Providence, a former D1 athlete turned tennis coach and math teacher at Digital Harbor High School, where UA recently revamped the weight room.
“For many students, athletics are the reason they come to school. We get about 50 to 60 percent of students simply coming for sports,” says Todd Henning, Athletic Director at the Academy for College and Career Exploration (ACCE), as well as head of the baseball program for all of Baltimore City schools. Over the last eight years, Henning has watched sports provide students with a sense of belonging and purpose. A recent study from the district’s Office of Achievement and Accountability found student athlete GPAs in Baltimore City Schools are 21% higher than the city-wide student average. The same study found athletes had, on average across all four high school grades, higher attendance rates and lower chronic absenteeism than non-athletes.
Beyond uniforms, the program is refurbishing and building new school athletic facilities to inspire the entire school population. Henning is working alongside the team at UA to come up with a weight room solution for ACCE. However, true success for Henning means seeing school attendance rise, students earning better grades and developing talent on and off the field.
Students are quite literally at the center of Project Rampart; The UA Student-Athlete Leadership Council was formed with the goal of bringing together outstanding student-athletes from every high school in Baltimore City and providing programming that helps foster leadership and character development. With two representatives from each school, there are currently 46 members of the council working with the program partners to impact the ongoing strategic direction of Project Rampart.
Bethell is one of these student-athlete leaders. His leadership skills were developed on the soccer field, but some of his best game-winning plays were made off the field.
“Soccer taught me a good work ethic. It taught me to keep working hard even when no one is watching. I would go on the field by myself and workout just to get better,” Bethell said. This fall, he’s heading to Sarah Lawrence College on a soccer scholarship to study public policy, international relations and journalism.