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Xplorers visit Hernando Public Library

July 7, 2005 - arenafootball2 (af2) - Memphis Xplorers News Release

HERNANDO-Memphis Xplorers players Brian Jones and Sale´ Key, along with Xplosion dance team member Kellie Moore, visited the Hernando Public Library on Thursday as part of the library's summer reading program.

The trio began by involving the children in an interactive story about a fictional Xplorers game. While Moore 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 group introduced themselves. Jones, a California native, attended the University of Toledo and majored in marketing. Key, who also hails from California, attended Idaho State University and majored in secondary education. Moore is currently a chemistry major at University of Mississippi and plans to pursue a career in optometry.

The players emphasized the importance of school. Jones wants to own a business and is working on his master's degree in marketing in the off season. Moore said she will be in school an additional six years to meet her goal. Key said when his football career is over, he'll be teaching children.

The players brought up a couple of volunteers from the audience to try on Xplorers equipment and explained the function of each piece. Last but certainly not least was Children's Specialist librarian Stephanie Brown, much to the delight of all the children in attendance.

"Do I look mean?" she asked the kids, growling and striking a football pose.

The players explained some differences between arena and outdoor football, such as the size of the field (50 yards long, 28 yards wide vs. 100 yards long, 53 yards in outdoor) and narrower goal posts.

"Because the field is smaller, the game is a lot faster," Jones said. "You score points more quickly. It's almost like a basketball game. It's tougher on the body. You have to be in really good shape."

The players also talked about arena football out-of-bounds rules. Out-of-bounds occurs when a player is tackled or pushed into the wall, and can result in some rather disastrous - or funny - situations.

"An out-of-bounds tackle is really three hits," Jones said. "The first hit is when you get tackled; the second is when you hit the wall, and the third is when you hit the ground."

Balls often fly into the stands, which fans get to keep; but fans may also find themselves catching a player or two who jump for the ball and clear the wall, or are pushed over the side in an out-of-bounds tackle.

"I guess we don't get to keep the players, huh?" one young mother asked mischievously.

"No, you have to throw them back, but you probably wouldn't want one anyway," Moore quipped.

"Yeah, we'd probably eat all your food," Jones said.

Before leaving, the three "celebrities" autographed team posters and team representatives handed out Xplorers pencils and vouchers for complimentary tickets for an upcoming game.

"It was fun," Key said. "I just came from the Cincinnati Bengals and the coach put a lot of emphasis on doing things within the community. It's important to teach kids about what's important, and reading and education top the list of ingredients for success."

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 today. To see the Xplorers in your neighborhood, contact your local library.

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