Xplorers visit library
Olive Branch-Memphis Xplorers players Travico Lewis and Kevin Eli visited B.J. Chain Public Library in Olive Branch on Friday, June 17 as part of the library's summer reading program.
The players began by reading an interactive story about a fictional Xplorers game. While Lewis read, Eli 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 the story, the two players introduced themselves and answered questions from the children. Eli grew up in New Jersey and attended the University of Maryland, where he majored in criminal justice; Lewis grew up in Memphis, attended Westside High School and attended the University of Memphis, where he majored in business.
"Football isn't everything," Eli said, mentioning that he graduated in 3 ½ years. "Studies were very important to me my whole life. And just to get where we are, you have to do well in school."
Lewis said that even in most high schools and especially in college, coaches won't let you play if your grades sink too low.
"It took me five years to graduate," Lewis said, and laughed. "It takes everyone a different amount of time, but the important thing is to finish."
Eli said he plans to pursue a career in the F.B.I.; Lewis wants to start his own business. "I like computers and websites, so maybe I'll do something in that," Lewis said. "You need to have something to fall back on when football is over."
The players went on to explain some basic differences between outdoor and arena football, although their young audience was fairly educated and was able to point some basics out, such as the 50-yard arena versus the 100-yard field and the fact that the receiver can get a running start toward the opposite goal line before the ball is snapped.
Eli explained the two players' positions as offensive/defensive linemen. The offensive lineman blocks opposing players, creates holes for the running back and protects the quarterback. The defensive lineman stops the running back and quarterback.
The players took the opportunity to stress the importance of sportsmanlike conduct when one child asked, "If you two got in a fight, who would win?" Some laughter followed. Lewis began by saying, "It would probably be a tie. But we wouldn't fight because we're teammates. And most of the time there isn't any fighting, just maybe some arguing. It's mostly friendly competition. But after the game we all shake hands and we're friends off the field. You don't want to be a bad sportsman."
The players also helped the children try on Xplorers equipment, signed autographs and passed out vouchers for this Saturday's game against the Birmingham Steeldogs at 7 p.m. at the DeSoto Civic Center. The Memphis Xplorers are 9-1 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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