By Teresa Varley
Charlie Batch has gone back to his former grade school and high school many times to talk to students or donate school supplies in "Batch-Packs" through his Best of the Batch Foundation.
But this offseason Batch found himself as the student, taking part in the NFL's Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program. Batch attended classes at the Wharton Schoolof the University of Pennsylvania, earning four and half credits towards an MBA.
"It was weird because you had to get back into school mode," said Batch. "Even before we attended the first class we had pre-reading, had to write a paper and send it the professor and you had to be prepared to discuss it during class. Just getting back to that after being so far removed brought back memories, but I was able to apply myself."
The program, which has been offered to current and retired NFL players since 2005, allows them the opportunity to attended sessions at either the Harvard Business School, Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern University), Stanford Graduate School of Business or Wharton.
The players have to apply to the school, sending in an application, letter of recommendation and resume, and go through acceptance reviews.
Once accepted Batch and the others were like any other student, having to print out reading materials and making sure the work was completed before they headed into the classroom.
"When you got to class, you had to be prepared for the professor to call on you," said Batch. "It put you on the hot seat if you didn't read it. But everyone was prepared and took it very seriously."
The program at Wharton focused on various business topics with real estate development one of the highlights. It also included financial analysis, entrepreneurship, stock market investing, negotiation skills, risk management, and community reinvestment.
The first session took place in early March, with a homework assignment of working on individual real estate, entrepreneurial or personal finance project for when they returned for the second session at the end of March.
Each player had to be involved in negotiations and presentations to the class, being asked to speak in front of the group. Batch is a frequent speaker at United Way events and school visits, so had that experience to rely on. In addition, managing his foundation was an asset.
"That definitely played a factor," said Batch. "That was a strength I took with me into the negotiating sessions to where some of the others might not have. We talked about it after we went through the session, what can the person do better, what did I take advantage of. We worked on ways to make each other better.
"At times we had to really stand up and present in front of the class. You could see some people weren't used to public speaking and some who were. I was able to do that because I have been in that setting before."
Batch plans on putting what he learned to practical use once his playing career ends and would like to even expand on it.
"I went in with an open mind. It was way more than I imagined," said Batch. "I didn't know what to expect but when I was done I was glad I took the class. It allowed me to focus on areas that were weak that I didn't know were weak, and focus on some of my strengths.
"As I get closer to the end of my career and start to transition away from football, it's never too early to start. You never know where your career is going to take you. You have to be prepared for that transition whenever it may be. The earlier you start the better."