Nov 13th, 2012 by nluna
In 1985, Rick Villarreal (BBA’85) was a baseball player for the then-Pan American University Broncs and what a great time he had as a student-athlete at the University he recalls.
“Baseball was the best. We had a pretty good record my senior year. Even though we didn’t make it to the playoffs, we had a great team. It was a great time. I made lifelong friends, played baseball and graduated from college. My end goal was to always graduate from college,” he said.
For Villarreal his most memorable moments were spent on the baseball diamond at the old Jody Ramsey Stadium where legendary Head Coach Emeritus Al Ogletree shared his wisdom of America’s favorite pastime with his players and led them to a playoff berth in 1983 where they lost to the University of Texas Longhorns.
“Pan Am baseball has always had a long history of great tradition and I was honored to have played for the Broncs and Al Ogletree,” Villarreal said.
Win or lose, Villarreal said he learned a lot from Ogletree, who taught all his players how to be courteous and astute young men. Traits he continues to follow today in his every day life as owner of his own Farmers Insurance agency in his hometown of Edinburg.
“I’m in sales and when you’re in sales you get a lot of ‘no’s’ and so you have to learn from your mistakes and stay focused like in baseball and sports. Learning how to be a good loser is just as important as learning how to win. That is very important in business also,” he said.
Villarreal owns a successful insurance agency in the Valley for Farmers Insurance Group and has been in business for 25 years. He is among one-half percent of Farmers agents in the nation who is a member of the President’s Council, which means he is an agent in good standing with the Farmers Insurance Group and has achieved certain education, production and performance goals, along with community involvement.
“Just like all team sports, you can’t have a successful business without a good staff and I have a wonderful staff. They are always motivated and very knowledgeable. I have a championship team,” he said.
While in college, Villarreal remembers how his fellow classmates changed majors many times, but not him he said.
“I just wanted to own a business,” Villarreal said.
His first job out of college was working in the banking industry. In the 1980s, he said, the banking industry was going down fast with lots of banks closing including First City Bank where he used to work. So Villarreal was left without a job and a new home and baby to support at that time. Rick now has three grown children, Victoria, Rick and Julian, two who have already graduated from college. Julian will be graduating from high school this year and will be attending college next fall.
“Out of necessity I needed to do something and I was blessed to be able to get into this business and I started it on my own,” he said. “I’m very proud that I have built a successful business and I have sustained it for 25 years now.”
“If it wasn’t for my college degree and the relationships that I built in sports and in the University setting, I don’t know where I would be right now,” he added.
Even with a busy career, Villarreal, who considers himself a die-hard baseball fan and loves to watch the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers play, said he still keeps up with his Broncs and on occasion can be found sitting in the stands at Edinburg Baseball Stadium watching them practice. He also hopes to support the team through sponsorships from the Farmers Insurance Group in the future.
“I see a lot of good things there. I think Coach Manny Mantrana’s heart is in the right place and I like what he is doing with the team. He is doing a great job. His knowledge and work ethic have already brought back the winning tradition we were accustomed to when Coach Al and Reggie (Tredaway) were here. It feels like home again, ” he said.
To further support the University in its endeavors and connect with his alma mater, Villarreal made the decision to join the President’s Circle, a “circle” of very special friends of the University who are dedicated to ensuring a bright future for UTPA and its students through unrestricted annual gifts.
“I saw the passion that Dr. (Robert) Nelsen has for the University, for the area and for the students and it inspired me to give back to the University,” he said.
He said he is proud to be part of a this special team as it will allow him to play a role in making UT Pan American a top university in the country, which for him is a homerun in his book.
To be part of the President’s Circle, contact Yvette Padilla, director of stewardship and annual giving, at (956) 665-5301.