BUSINESS FEATURE Baseball Academy of Texas Program blends fundamentals, civic responsibility M errell Ligons founded a youth baseball team called Venom in Round Rock we can produce a lot of lawyers. Maybe some physicians. Maybe our next chief of police or even mayor.”
BY BRIAN RASH
in 2020, about six months after the COVID-19 pandemic began in March. Prior to that, in 2019 Ligons was coaching a team through the Round Rock Baseball League where he met his business partner, Joel Harrison. As more and more restrictions came about due to the pandemic, Ligons began trying to nd a safe way to keep the game going. “COVID[-19] hit, and my goal was just to nd a place for the kids to play,” Ligons said. By May 2021, through the work of Ligons and Harrison, Venom had evolved into a full-scale youth baseball training program and com- petitive organization called Baseball Academy of Texas, which has teams
Ligons said B.A.T. leadership is always looking for other opportu- nities for civic involvement, be it charitable fundraising, ways to honor veterans or another avenue to help communities. Aside from community building and volunteering, B.A.T. also incor- porates life skills exercises into team training. One example, Ligons said, is bring- ing in a parent who is a sniper for the Austin Police Department to teach the young athletes about leadership. “These are things that the best of the best in our police departments are learning, and if I can teach those kids how to deal with stressful situa- tions through breathing and positive
From left: Merrell Ligons and Joel Harrison founded Baseball Academy of Texas in 2021. (Photos by Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
A player elds a grounder during a training session.
Coach Joshua Colvin works with players during batting practice.
that play through a national youth baseball tour- nament circuit called Perfect Game. While B.A.T. looks in many ways similar to
talk … and then turn them loose in their commu- nities to teach their friends and do great things, then you start to see a snowball happen,” Ligons said. There are now six teams and 71 athletes ranging in age from 9-14
“I THINK, TOGIVE THESE KIDS ANOPPORTUNITY TOKINDOF GET OUT OF THEIR LITTLE COMMUNITYAND SEE WHERE BASEBALL COULD TAKE YOU, IT COULD INSPIRE THEM.” MERRELL LIGONS, FOUNDER
GOAL TO EXPAND Baseball Academy of Texas launched in 2021, and founders Merrell Ligons and Joel Harrison have been building their clientele ever since. The owners said they have a goal of doubling their roster by 2023.
150 0 30 60 90 120
12 athletes, 1 team
48 athletes, 4 teams
71 athletes, 6 teams
that of other youth sports
110 athletes, 10 teams
150 athletes, 14 teams
training organi- zations—players developing their
skillsets through high-level instruc- tion—Ligons said an additional aspect gives his business a unique bent. Baseball was always a big part of Ligons’ family, and he made it all the way to a couple of minor league aliates of the Kansas City Royals, including the Spokane Indians and the Charleston Alley Cats, for a few seasons in the mid-90s. Ligons said his vision now is to use baseball to help kids learn deeper life skills that they can carry with them through adulthood. Therefore, he hopes to train and grow the next generation of commu- nity leaders. “There’s no guarantee that any of these kids are going to play for [The University of Texas at Austin], or play for the Astros,” he said. “The chances are slim to none. But, with the right mindset, with the right work ethic,
enrolled in the B.A.T. program, but players up to age 16 also participate to build their skills for their high school teams, Ligons said. Practices take place at the B.A.T. facility located in Round Rock at 7323 CR 110, or at Northeast Metropolitan Park in Pugerville. Beyond practices, tournaments take B.A.T. teams as far south as Canyon Lake near New Braunfels or as far north as Harker Heights in Bell County. This June, Ligons said B.A.T. ath- letes will go all the way to Alabama to participate in a youth World Series event through Perfect Game. “I think, to give these kids an opportunity to kind of get out of their little community and see where baseball could take you, it could inspire them,” Ligons said. “That’s kind of the goal there.”
CHARITABLEWORKS Part of the Baseball Academy of Texas program includes building civic pride in young athletes. Some examples include:
December 2021: 60 B.A.T. athletes participated in a wreath-laying event at Texas State Cemetery to honor fallen veterans.
May-August 2022: B.A.T. athletes will fundraise in conjunction with the Round Rock Police Department through a program raises money for shoes and other items for underprivileged kids.
L I M M E R
Baseball Academy of Texas 7323 CR 110, Round Rock www.baseballacademyoftexas.com Program and training hours vary
COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM
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