Xplorers visit Gaston Park Public Library
MEMPHIS-Memphis Xplorers players Lavante Epson and Deon Giddens visited Gaston Park Library in Memphis on Wednesday.
The players began by involving the children in an interactive story about a fictional Xplorers game. While Community Relations Representative Stacie White read the story, Epson and Giddens held up cards to cue the children to say a phrase when certain words were mentioned. For instance, when "Xplorers" was mentioned, the children said "Down, Set, Hut!" and when "Fans" was mentioned, the children said, "Go Xplorers!"
After reading the story, the players took questions and talked to the children about the differences between arena and outdoor football.
"The biggest difference is in the length of the field," Giddens said. "It's only 50 yards long instead of 100, so it makes scoring easier. You might have a game where you score 80 points. That's not common in outdoor football. It makes the game move a lot faster too."
Another difference is the out-of-bounds rule: there are no sidelines, just a wall. If a player runs into the wall, he is not penalized, but if he is pushed into it or tackled into it he is considered out-of-bounds. Some players even end up going over the wall, as the children saw in a 5-minute game highlights video that White brought.
The players also talked about the importance of staying in school and making good grades. For football and many other sports, higher education is a requirement: you can't go straight to the professional leagues. You have to attend college first.
"Whatever sport you want to play, you have got to go to school and make good grades and listen to your parents," Epson said. "When I was in college at U.T. Martin, we had to maintain at least a 2.75 grade point average. If your grades drop lower than that, then they won't let you play."
"There's a system you have to go by," Giddens said. "We've got a play book that we have to dedicate time to read and study. We have to attend practice and meetings, be on time, and listen to our coach, the same as you guys having to listen to your teachers and parents.
"Both Lavante and I got our degrees from college. I got a business degree and he got his in sociology. There's more to life than just football. We have something so that when football's over we can make a good life for ourselves, and you can't have that without college."
White pointed out that for those who love sports but don't want to or can't be players, there are plenty of other jobs in the sports industry.
"You can be a writer for a sports team or a doctor and take care of players or be like me and be in community relations," she said. "I get to go on all the appearances with the guys and hang out with kids, which I think is fun.
"And you're never too old to learn either. I'm 28, and I am leaving my job here in a couple of weeks to go to law school. The important thing is, there's lots of cool jobs to have, but to do them you have to try your best, work hard and stay in school."
Before leaving the players allowed all the children to try on Xplorers game gear and pads, signed autographs and distributed complimentary tickets to the team's next home game on Saturday, July 30 against the Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings at 7 p.m. at the DeSoto Civic Center. The Xplorers are 11-3 on the season and in first place in the Mid-West Division of the National Conference.
Single game tickets for the final regular season home game are available
now. Playoff tickets for the Xplorers first home playoff game will be
available beginning Monday, July 25. Tickets start as low as $7 and can
be purchased by calling 662-342-1755, visiting the DeSoto Civic Center
box office, or by logging onto
Memphis Xplorers Arena Football! Back in Black!
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