Xplorers visit Germantown Library
GERMANTOWN-Xplorers players Stephen Battle and Joseph Crear visited Germantown Public Library on Wednesday, July 6 as part of the library's summer reading program.
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, the two players 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 introduced themselves. Battle, 26, is a native of Coco, Fla. and attended the Valley City State University where he majored in sports leisure and management. Crear, 23, is from Moss Point, Miss. and attended Mississippi Valley State University, where he majored in architecture.
The two players also pointed out differences between arena football and outdoor football, the most notable of which, Battle said, is the speed of the arena game.
"It is so fast that it's almost like basketball," Battle said, who received his choice of a basketball or football scholarship to attend college. "The other team can be down by 24 points with a minute left and they can come back and beat you."
Other differences include dimensions (the arena field is about half the size of an outdoor field), which accounts for the quickness of the game; the walls separating the field from the crowd constitute "out-of-bounds." Only eight players are allowed on the field, while in outdoor football there are 11. Players are required to play both ways, offense and defense - also a result of the smaller field and quicker turn over of ball possession.
There is no punting, only kickoffs, and the ball is "live" once it hits the nets in the end zones. "So you will see a lot of people scrapping for the ball after it hits the net," Crear said. "And if it goes into the stands, the fans get to keep it. We lose about 18-20 balls a game."
The group then watched a video with clips from Xplorers games and the players answered questions.
Children's librarian Melody Pittman asked whether or not Battle and Crear had signature touchdown dances after catching a glimpse of Battle posing in a tough guy stance on the field while another player pretended to snap photos of him after he scored.
"No - sometimes we'll get out there before the game and make stuff up," Battle said, laughing. "We try to do different stuff every game. You have to keep the crowd into it."
"What inspired you to play football?" one girl asked.
"School, honestly," Crear said. "Football was a way to pay for school. And if you want to make something of yourself, you have to go to school. To play sports, you have to go to school and you have to make good grades. But I wanted to have something I could make a career of, and football helped me go to school and get that."
Community Relations representative White told the group that there are many ways to be involved in professional sports other than as a player.
"When we visited the Poplar-White Station Library yesterday, I talked to a little boy that wanted to be a doctor," White said. "But you can be a doctor for a sports team and help take care of the players. Or you can be a lawyer or a writer or an artist or announcer for a team, or in community relations, like me. I always knew I wanted to work for a professional sports team. There are so many capacities where you can be involved."
The Memphis Xplorers' next home game is Saturday, July 9 against the Tulsa Talons at 7 p.m. at the DeSoto Civic Center. The Xplorers are 10-2 on the season and in first place in the Mid-West Division of the National Conference. Single game 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 www.TicketMaster.com today. To see the Xplorers in your neighborhood, contact your local library.
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