The Alliance of American Football’s Memphis Express opened minicamp on Saturday and wasted no time engaging with its newfound community, hosting an event for local youth organizations CodeCrew and Memphis Athletic Ministries at Main Event, a games and entertainment facility in Memphis. “This means a lot,” said Audrey Willis, CodeCrew co-founder. “These are folks these kids will see on TV and playing on the field, and they’ll have a personal relationship with them. For kids growing up in Memphis, we don’t get football players here, now those folks are in their lives, playing, and in their community. It means a lot when there’s a corporate organization giving back not just in dollars but in time. These guys have been here for hours playing with our kids. It means a whole lot.” CodeCrew’s summer camps, after school programs, in-school electives, internships and special events have taught more than 1,000 students to code since May 2015. Of the 250 kids they serve weekly 91 percent are African-American and Hispanic youth, 41 percent are girls, and overall, 89 percent of their students become more likely to study computer science. “We try to make sure that we’re lending a hand before extending a hand,” said Greg Herring, Memphis Express vice president of marketing. “We don’t want to ask the community for support without becoming a part of it, ingrained from the start. The players have been in town less than 24 hours, and here we are with local youth, playing games, eating some food, and having a great time here at Main Event.” Upon arrival at Main Event, Memphis Express players were paired with a child and spent the next few hours bowling, playing laser tag, having dinner, and forming a connection. The overwhelming response from both sides expressed an appreciation for the importance of the evening. “It’s huge,” said Rendon Bradley, director, Memphis Athletic Ministries Neighborhood. “The players get a connection to the community, seeing these kids and their parents. You can see it in the kids eyes. They’ve never met a pro athlete. They’re laughing and enjoying it, loving every minute.” Founded in 1998, Memphis Athletic Ministries (MAM) exists to coach, grow, and lead the youth of Memphis by helping them discover their identity in Christ and their purpose in the community. MAM’s vision is to see identity found, hope restored, and lives changed. Minicamp continues for the Express on Sunday, with the team’s first practices. On Monday, players will meet with media for the first time, with practice open to press for filming from 11:30 am to Noon at the Liberty Bowl. selected players and coaches will be available for comment from 12-12:30 pm. Minicamp wraps on Tuesday.