SportStars Magazine

360 Football Academy: Hannibal Navies Heading Camp Revolution

360 Football Academy, Hannibal Navies

Bay Area-Native NFL Veteran Provides Youth Athletes The Full Spectrum With His 360 Football Academy Camp In The Bay •

Hannibal Navies spent nine years playing in the National Football League. And his post-playing career has been spent working with the NFL Players Association. 

But Navies also grew up among a family of teachers. And it’s clear to see the influence of all of these things when viewing Navies’ 360 Football Academy camp.  

On July 1-2, 2019, The Hannibal Navies Foundation hosted the “Camp in the Bay” Football Academy at Laney College in Oakland. The event led by 360 Football Academy welcomed over 150 student-athletes and their families from across Northern and Central California to experience a no-cost football student-athlete experience. 

Navies attended Berkeley High School and Colorado University before playing in the NFL for nine seasons. He suited up for Carolina, Green Bay, Cincinnati and the 49ers.

360 Football Academy, Hannibal Navies, Camp

Kweke Garth Jr. of Skyline-Oakland finishes his 40-yard dash at the 360 Football Academy Camp. (Chace Bryson photos)

After creating the 360 Academy in 2009, Navies took a few years to truly build the overall experience he wanted his athletes to take part in. Understanding that information and technology is always changing, he made sure the academy experience did as well. 

“We want to make sure the information we are giving is relevant to this generation,” he said.

Although labeled as a football academy, Navies and company take pride in the information not received between the hash marks. 

Over two days, students were treated to the same knowledge and resources a newly signed NFL athlete would receive. Classroom information ranged from recruiting, college expectations, health and wellness and knowing your rights as not just an athlete, but a human being. 

Each day the participants spent more than half of their time in the classroom. They were guided on topics often less emphasized at other camps.

The mantra was clear, 360 was more than just the name of the academy. The focus was to bring the total experience full circle, reminding the participants that they are students before athletes. You can’t have one without the other.

“If you dream of going to the NFL, you must dream of going to college first,” Navies expressed. 

After learning how sports and academics are intertwined via college and recruiting, the information shifted towards focusing on keeping not only the body healthy but also the mind.

Dr. Nyaka NiiLampti, Vice President of Wellness for the NFL Players Association, spoke to the students for over an hour. She covered often overlooked topics among the sporting world. 

Niilampti urged each student to find a balance, showing them that building a happy healthy legacy begins with early planning and preparation. The doctor also stressed when and how to change bad habits. 

360 Football Academy, JR Redmond

Former NFL running back JR Redmond, right, spoke to campers of his battles with depression.

Hammering home the importance of a healthy mind, body and spirit was academy legend and mentor, J.R .Redmond. A member of the Super Bowl XXXVI champion New England Patriots, Redmond detailed his battle with severe depression after life in the NFL. 

Redmond was clear that depression impacts “normal people” too. He emphasized that seeking help is the only way out. 

“You don’t need to struggle alone,” Redmond said. “It’s okay to need help and we are here for that.”

Continuing the theme of giving the students access to people and resources, Lt. Bobby Hookfin of the Oakland Police Department and Oakland-based criminal defense attorney, Marlon Monroe, conducted a forum on knowing your rights.

Understanding the current climate between young people and law enforcement officers, Hookfin explained the difference between being detained and having a consensual interaction with an officer. The emphasis was on knowing how to best act in the presence of law enforcement personnel — especially during stressful situations.

Oakland Police, Bobby Hookfin

Oakland Police lieutenant, Bobby Hookfin, leads a panel focused on interacting with law enforcement at the 360 Football Academy Camp In The Bay.

“These kids are spending real time with people who care at this camp,” said Hookfin, an Oakland native who graduated from Skyline. “They were fully engaged and the respect on both sides will last a lifetime.” 

The student-athletes were able to see and hear from professionals in a variety of fields, not just pro football players.

“This camp taught me to use my resources,”  said Kweke Garth Jr from Skyline. “I know how to choose the right path.”

After unmatched life lessons in the classroom were wrapped up, it was time for the athletes to hit the field. The energy and the passion inside the classroom transferred to the field. NFL mentors put the participants through the same skill stations you would see at an NFL combine or recruitment showcase. 

The 40-yard dash was a camp favorite — getting expert advice on how to maximize sprint time down to the millisecond. 

Lastly, the campers were split into groups according to position and side of the ball — each with at least one NFL veteran of that craft.

As the final day wrapped up, the message remained clear. The 360 Football Academy Camp athletes will continue to have these resources available to them.

Mark Hutchison, Pittsburg

Pittsburg High lineman Mark Hutchison, right, works through on-field drills at the 360 Football Academy.

“This experience doesn’t end on day 2 at 1 p.m.,” Navies said. “We really want to stay in touch with our students and remain a resource all year ’round.” 

Not only did Navies give out his personal phone number to each student, he is also establishing online resources that each young person can use as an aid throughout his growing-up process. 

“I learned so much from this experience,” said Devaneaux Sagaral of St. Vincent-Petaluma. “The full-circle mentality of 360 showed me there’s more to life than football.” 

Vowing to bring this experience back to Oakland annually, Navies envisions the 360 academy being provided across the country very soon. 

For information regarding upcoming camps, go to hannibalnavies.48in48sites.org

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