On Thursday, at a joint press conference at Globe Life Field, Abilene Christian University and the Texas Rangers officially announced “Rangers U Powered by ACU” — a program that allows players and coaches to earn academic credit by taking online courses taught by ACU faculty and staff in both English and Spanish.
“It really started more on a business partnership side, more of a sponsorship opportunity for the university,” said Ben Baroody, Rangers director of leadership, development and mental performance. “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 we can build out for our players and with my vision for opportunities for our staff and players.’”
Baroody and other Rangers management team members collaborated with Stephen Johnson, chief administrative officer for ACU Dallas, to jointly develop a set of custom courses. ACU’s expertise in online learning enabled the delivery of these courses to be flexible and accessible for players and staff, regardless of their location. The quick timeline on which these courses were developed reflects the strength of ACU’s online offerings, which consistently rank as one of America’s top online colleges.
RangersU consists of two Player Pathway blocks of fully online seven-week courses. Player Pathway Block 1 courses included leadership development and mental performance and ran from October to December of 2022. Player Pathway Block 2 is running now and includes courses on the history of baseball and multicultural communication. Each course is worth three hours of academic credit.
“One of the reasons I got into ACU was I wanted to kind of expand outside of baseball and find something to challenge me outside of what we do on a daily basis,” said 21-year-old pitching prospect Tekoah Roby. “Part of developing in the baseball world and in real life is finding your identity outside of baseball, and one of those things that I’ve been able to add to my identity is [I’m] a student again. I hadn’t really taken classes since high school.”
The Rangers had 32 minor league players enroll this fall.
“The first block taught you how to develop leadership abilities,” said infielder Jonathan Ornelas. “It will help better us on, and even off, the field…and it will help us be able to influence people in the right way.”
For both ACU and the Rangers, this partnership extends beyond just numbers and classes. According to Johnson, RangersU is deeply connected to the university’s sense of purpose.
“What we’ve built together is more than just courses for players to take,” said Johnson. “We’re building a relationship on shared values and mission. We believe that the most important work that can be done is how we participate together in pouring into each other so that we flourish in who we are.”
Baroody agrees. “People are and always will be our competitive advantage,” he said. And this innovative educational program is a way to pursue the Rangers’ “continuous mission to create a culture of lifelong learners… and an environment where people can thrive on and off the field.”
This sense of shared mission is propelling both ACU and the Texas Rangers forward. Additional courses will be developed based on the educational priorities of the Rangers and will be offered to players in the off season this fall, all of which can be applied to a degree program in the future.
“These programs are just the beginning of what we have to offer for our staff and our players,” Baroody said.
View the press conference.
Learn more about RangersU Powered by ACU.
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