Class is now in session at Rangers University
ARLINGTON -- On Thursday, the Rangers announced a newly formed partnership with Abilene Christian University to develop a unique program for players and staff to shape educational content and earn college credit toward both bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
RangersU Powered by ACU, as it’s been called within the organization, was developed by Rangers director of leadership, development and mental performance Ben Baroody and Stephen Johsnon, the CEO of ACU’s Dallas campus.
“It really started more on a business partnership side, more of a sponsorship opportunity for the University,” Baroody said. “I think we both just tried to be mutually opportunistic and say, this can be more than just outfield field signage. This can be something that we can build out for our players and with my vision for opportunities for our staff and players.”
The Rangers worked with ACU to develop a specific course load for players and staff designed to be taken in the offseason. Students will receive three hours of college credit for each course, all of which are offered in both English and Spanish.
The first block of classes includes two courses: Leadership Development and Mental Performance. The second block of classes includes two more: History of Baseball and Multicultural Communication.
Additional courses for the 2023-24 offseason are being discussed and developed between ACU and the Rangers, all of which can be applied to a degree program down the line.
“Obviously we’ve very thankful to Stephen and the ACU staff for their creativity, their determination, their passion for this program,” Baroody said, “and being really receptive and navigating some of the crazy ideas we like to throw out at him and just really the goal to make it happen and build outbreak programs for our staff and our players.
“We believe that people are and always will be our competitive advantage. By helping these individuals optimize their potential, it creates a more dynamic player development atmosphere and a shared leadership culture with an exponential impact on players, their teammates and their peers. These programs are just the beginning of what we have to offer for our staff and our players.”
About 30 Minor League players, in addition to a number of front-office staffers, participated in the inaugural year of Rangers University.
Texas’ No. 21-ranked prospect Jonathan Ornelas and No. 14 prospect Tekoah Roby were two of the players who started the program this offseason. Both emphasized how important it was for them to continue their education and how helpful it was that ACU was able to tailor the schedule to accommodate the fast-paced environment of professional baseball.
Both players also emphasize how the classes were able to help them on and off the field.
“The first-half courses that we took, it taught you how to develop your leadership abilities, and I feel like they're there mainly to help us better ourselves on the field and even off the field especially,” Ornelas said. “They [taught us] we might have some type of influence on different types of people. So being able to influence people the right way in the right direction is definitely something that's good to know.”
“One of [the classes] was mental performance, which was extremely helpful,” Roby added. “Just a month into the offseason, I was already getting tools that I think I'm going to use next year to apply to my performance on the field. And then the leadership as well, a lot of it was geared toward finding your identity as a leader. That was super helpful to know yourself, and then you're able to kind of take a deeper dive on that.”