By Lori Lyons, Rougarou Writer
The young men who made their way to Baton Rouge to play for the Rougarou this summer will leave with some improved skills and a lot of memories. But a couple of Rougarou players got more out of it than just a tour of East Texas.
Rougarou shortstop Josh Shelly and pitcher Connor Spencer both received NIL deals from local businesses. An NIL deal is an agreement between a player and a business which allows the business to use their name, image and likeness to promote their company or services. In exchange, the player may receive financial compensation, goods or services.
Shelly, who hails from Houma and will play for Lurleen B. Wallace Community College next season, signed two deals – one with Phil’s Oyster Bar in Baton Rouge and another with Geaux Chiro, a local chiropractor.
Connor Spencer, a standout pitcher who recently committed to Ole Miss, has signed a deal with Papa Earl’s Cajun Seasoning.
“The Baton Rouge Rougarou are trying to become one of the top summer college baseball organizations in the country and helping our players grow their individual brands and introduce them to the business community is all part of that process,” said team owner Ronnie Rantz. “Casey McKenzie our GM and myself look forward to helping to facilitate bigger and better NIL deals for our Rougarou players next season.”
Both players said they were thrilled to be asked to lend their names and faces to local businesses.
“They’re really good deals,” said Shelly, who emerged as one of the Rougarou’s top players this summer, earning the MVP award for the first half of the season. “I can go eat all the oysters I want and I can get an adjustment whenever I need it.”
Spencer, who said he only cooks a little, sent a bunch of Papa Earl’s home to his mom in Hernando, Miss, where he will be heading next week to spend some time before the start of school.
Said Spencer: “I got a little money out of it. It’s the first time I’ve ever received anything other than what my schools have given me in scholarships and stuff. Obviously, that’s a cool experience. Now that I’ve gotten this, I kind of feel like a real professional athlete.”
Besides receiving a little extra summer spending money and perhaps all the oysters one can eat, both Shelly and Spencer said that receiving an NIL deal is something to be proud of as a player and may just help them in their careers.
“Playing in junior college, not everybody knows who I am,” Shelly said. “When I came to the Rougarou they had never heard of me. It just helps me get my name out there. Of course, it goes with how good you’re playing, but NIL is an extra part of it. The better you play, the more people will reach out to you.”