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Xplorers visit Germantown sports camp as library guests

June 6, 2005 - arenafootball2 (af2) - Memphis Xplorers News Release

GERMANTOWN—Two Memphis Xplorers football players were a hit with summer sports camp participants at the Germantown Community Center on Monday.

The players’ visit was part of a summer reading program at area libraries, where they will continue to make stops throughout June and July. The players began by reading “Little Granny Quarterback,” a story that centers around the big-league dreams and memories of an elderly woman. Kicker Nick Hayes read the first half and then handed it off to Quarterback Shane Franzer.

After reading the book, the players opened up the floor for questions, which ranged from injuries (“We play on turf instead of grass, and if you slide on it, it will burn your legs,” Hayes said) to daily hygiene (“Do you take a shower?” one child asked. “Yeah, it’s important to stay clean—I try to take a shower every day,” Franzer said).

Franzer and Hayes explained some of the differences in arena football and outdoor football. The first would be the size of the field. Only 27 yards wide instead of 53 and 50 yards long instead of 100, the action changes directions and happens faster than traditional football. There are only eight players allowed on the field instead of 11 and most of the team plays both offense and defense.

The children also wanted to know who the team’s toughest opponent had been so far (“Definitely the Quad City Steamwheelers—they’re the only team we’ve lost to and we face them at home this weekend,” Hayes said), where that team was located, whether or either player had ever been to China (“I’ve been to Japan, if that counts,” Franzer said), and each guy’s longest pass, highest score, most touchdowns in a game and favorite play.

After answering questions, the players brought up a volunteer to try on Xplorers pads, the jersey, and helmet while holding the football. Then the two men signed autographs for all the children.

“It’s fun to get out with the kids and remember what things are important to them at that level,” Franzer said. He mentioned he got a lot of experience working with children growing up because he has a brother who is 12 years younger than himself. “Kids have such an interesting way of relating their experiences.”

Hayes said every time he does a public appearance, he feels as if he’s coming full circle.

“I remember how cool it was when athletes came to my school and talked to me,” Hayes said. “It’s great to be in that position now. I think it’s an honor, really, that kids look up to you like that.”

The Memphis Xplorers are 8-1 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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