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Horn Lake library helps children X-plore books with the Xplorers football team

June 2, 2005 - arenafootball2 (af2) - Memphis Xplorers News Release

HORN lAKE – Xplorers players Lavante Epson and Khreem Smith made a grand entrance at M.R. Dye Public Library in Horn Lake on Thursday, June 3, when they arrived to read to children as part of the Summer Reading Program.

Most of the children ranged in age from kindergarten through third grade; children’s librarian Laura Crafton wasn’t quite prepared for the image the players struck as they walked through the door.

“I looked up and they were just so tall,” she said. “I didn’t expect it and I found myself saying, ‘And here they come—a couple of really big kids!’ But they were so gracious with the children.”

The players read Patty Lovell’s “Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon,” a story about a very small girl who overcomes big odds, and then called for questions from the boys and girls.

The children had plenty of questions and stories of their own they wanted to tell. One little boy talked about the movie “Air Bud,” about a dog that plays football. Another boy informed Epson and Smith that he plays ice hockey.

“Well, maybe you can teach me how to play hockey,” Smith said. “I’ve never done that.”

“How do your muscles get so big?” one child asked Epson. “You have to do a lot of push-ups and drink a lot of milk,” he said.

The players also used the time to give some educational information about the differences in arena football and regular football. They explained that the field was only 50 yards long instead of 100, so most of the players play both offense and defense, with the exception of Smith. In arena football you can have eight players on the field at any time. The Xplorers team has almost 30 members.

After the appearance Epson said he enjoys doing anything for children, in part because it reminds him of his sons, ages seven and two.

“To them, it means a lot that you are a professional athlete,” Epson said. “To them, you’re somebody. When you see them look up at you, you remember how important it is to do the right thing in front of them.”

Smith graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in secondary education and plans on using it to teach math.

“I could skip reading the book,” he said, laughing. “Too bad we don’t get to present a numbers game or something. But it’s always fun to talk to the kids and do something with them.”

The Xplorers are 7-1 on the season and in first place in the Mid-West Division of the National Conference. The next Xplorers home game is Saturday, June 11 at 7 p.m. against the Quad City Steamwheelers. Single game tickets start as low as $7 and can be purchased by calling 662-280-9120, visiting the DeSoto Civic Center box office, or by logging onto today.

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