Assistant equipment manager server dual role
SOUTHAVEN --- Nineteen year old Al Cerbe wants to be a head equipment manager in the NFL someday. In preparation for that future, the Horn Lake, MS native has assisted Memphis Xplorers equipment manager Frank Herring the last two seasons. This season, Cerbe has taken on a new expanded role with the team, one that he didn't foresee last season.
Cerbe is serving as team chaplain after taking over from John Tsironis, who had been the team's chaplain from 2002-2005. Tsironis was also the Xplorers' strength coach from 2002-2004.
"John was my roommate during the ArenaCup and we got to talking about our faith," Cerbe said. "Talking with him and coach Barto got me to thinking that this would be a path (becoming team chaplain) that I would like to take. It is a chance for me to share my faith with the players."
Cerbe is currently attending classes at Northeast Community College with plans to transfer to the University of Memphis in the fall. During the first two months of the Xplorers season, because he still has classes, he has to balance school with his work with the team.
"Right now, my main focus is the devotion with the players just before the game," he said. "When I get out of school for the summer, I would like to get a little more involved. Maybe conduct some group bible study and help these guys get through their season and build their relationships with the Lord."
The past chaplain, or "chappy" for short, saw something in Al during last year's ArenaCup weekend in Bossier City, LA.
"I was really impressed by his virtuous nature," Tsironis said. "It is not often that you find someone his age that has as much integrity in his walk with God."
After last season's ArenaCup game, Tsironis moved up to be a part-time assistant strength and conditioning coach with the Cincinnati Bengals of the NFL and is also the team chaplain of the Columbus Destroyers of the AFL. His former boss with the Xplorers knows the importance of having spiritual guidance on a football team.
"I think we all get caught up in the football aspect of this job and forget about the personal things that players go through," Xplorers Head Coach Danton Barto said. "I think you need to have an outlet other than a coach, somebody you can go to with a problem and find some guidance and direction."
After having Tsironis as the person giving guidance and direction the last four seasons, Barto thinks Cerbe will do just fine in the role.
"I could tell he was nervous when he did the first devotion before the first game this season," Barto said. "He loves this team, the players know that and respect him for that and that is great way to start. I think he will be a real asset."
When he transfers to Memphis this fall, Cerbe is going to have the opportunity to work with the Tigers football team. In the meantime though, he has other items on his agenda.
"We (the Xplorers) have a lot of football left this season," he said. "It goes nonstop and can be grind and I want to be there for the players to help them get through it."
Is being a team chaplain something that Cerbe would like to do in the future at maybe a higher level?
"If the Lord calls me to do this (be a team chaplain) at a higher level, I definitely would," he said. "I am still just 19 and I still have a lot to learn and a lot of growing to do, but I also feel I have come a long way in just the few weeks I have been doing this for the Xplorers."
(PHOTO INFO--- L to R, Al Cerbe, Danton Barto and John Tsironis at the 2005 ArenaCup)
The Memphis Xplorers...2005 ArenaCup Champions
Free Kids Tickets!!! For the May 6 and May 20 games, fans that purchase one adult ticket can get up to two kids tickets (12 and under) for free.
Take advantage of the Xplorers 4-Pack or fantastic discounts for groups of 15 or more. Don't miss all the action of the "50-Yard Indoor War." For ticket information call the Xplorers office at 662-342-1755. Single game tickets can be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com, by calling 901-525-1515 or in person at the DeSoto Civic Center box office during business hours.
Listen to all the action on the radio home of the Xplorers, 730 ESPN.
Be sure to head to O'Charley's on Goodman Road in Southaven after every Xplorers home game for the official post game party.
Listen to the Danton Barto Show every Monday at 6pm on 730 ESPN live from The Fox and Hound in Southaven.
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