Az-Zahir Hakim
There was a lot of young talented football players at the daylong football camp. (Photo by Jason Lewis)

Az-Zahir Hakim
Az-Zahir Hakim addressed the young student athletes at the conclusion of the camp. (Photo by Jason Lewis)

By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor

Kids grow up idolizing NFL football players, dreaming of one day meeting one in person.  The players are larger than life and are pretty much inaccessible to their biggest fans.

This past Saturday about 100 kids not only got to meet a NFL player, they were able to workout with him too!

Super Bowl champion and Los Angeles native Az-Zahir Hakim held the 10th annual Go Beyond the G.A.M.E. football youth camp at West Adams Preparatory High School.

Hakim was in a lot of these kid’s shoes when he was growing up in Los Angeles, and he said that one of the reasons that he puts on this camp is because there were not many camps like this when he was coming up.

Hakim graduated from Fairfax High School in 1994.  In high school he was a standout wide receiver and cornerback.  He played some quarterback and filled in a running back when needed.

After Fairfax, Hakim attended San Diego State University and was then drafted into the NFL by the St. Louis Rams.  In St. Louis he was a part of their 1999 Super Bowl championship team, and he also played in the 2001 Super Bowl.

Hakim uses his star power to encourage the young athletes to chase their dreams, on and off the field.  The camp was not only about football drills, it was also about being a productive member of the community, and about working hard in the classroom so each player can participate in sports.

G.A.M.E. stands for “Gratitude,” “Attitude,” “Motivation,” and “Education.”  Hakim considers those the four universal principles of sportsmanship.  Living by those principles allows student athletes to persevere through life’s challenges while excelling morally, academically, and athletically.

“The goal of the ‘Go Beyond the Game’ program is to provide elementary through high school aged youth living in impoverished communities a step-by-step plan on how to live productive lives,” Hakim said.

The camp focused on several football drills, and there was a focus on speed, which was one attribute that made Hakim a great player.  He is a very quick and elusive player, so a number of the drills were designed to make the players faster.

Many of the children were able to use a parachute for the very first time.  That adds resistance to the drill.  Children normally do not have access to equipment like that.

It may have been hot that day, but none of the kids seemed to mind.  Just being on the same field with a Super Bowl champion made their day.