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Former Dallas Stars broadcaster Ralph Strangis returns to UNT as student

Former Dallas Stars broadcaster Ralph Strangis returns to UNT as student

January 21
02:19 2016

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer

@ReeceTapout15

Despite four previous dropouts while pursuing his bachelor’s degree, former Dallas Stars play-by-play broadcaster Ralph Strangis is giving it another go at UNT.

And even though he’s 54 years old and a dozen years removed from his last class, the former voice of the Stars is still young at heart.

“I’ll probably wear my Led Zeppelin T-shirt and go shop for bongs,” Strangis said jokingly. “I’ve been getting some funny social media requests saying, ‘Hey we’re going to have a party. Do you want to come by?’”

While Strangis said attending class is his top priority, he isn’t going to miss his chance to receive the full college experience.

“Absolutely,” he said when asked if he’d accept the invitations to parties. “Heck yes. Are you kidding me? Why wouldn’t I? I’m in college, for crying out loud. It’s the fountain of youth.”

The commitment to education is apparent for Strangis, as he returns to college after reaching what many would consider to be the pinnacle of success for a sports broadcaster. Not even two and a half decades of announcing professional hockey was enough to quench Strangis’ thirst for knowledge.

It’s the same passion for scholarship Strangis hopes to one day instill in students—as a professor.

“I think I have a lot to offer younger people in terms of advice, information and guidance,” Strangis said. “I’ve always thought I would be a good teacher. I’ve done some of that in the past. I’ve guest lectured a ton. I even co-taught a class a dozen years ago at UNT.”

The calling to teach became evident to Strangis a few years ago when he said he felt a push out of his old life. Once he was sure he wanted to pursue it, Strangis knew the next step was completing his undergraduate degree in applied arts and sciences.

With only 33 hours needed to complete his degree, Strangis is taking five classes this semester: two U.S. history courses, one political science and two online leadership classes. He has even designated Tuesdays and Thursdays to be his “Denton days,” since his three traditional classes fall on those days of the week.

College, however, was not always something Strangis planned as carefully as he does now.

“When I first went to college, I wasn’t that serious about it,” Strangis said. “I never saw college as a necessary step to get to where I wanted to go. And now for the first time, this is something I have to do if I want to teach.”

Strangis also has a yearning for camaraderie and family—two other keys that factored into his decision to return to UNT this semester. One of the most challenging obstacles Strangis had to overcome when he left the Stars was unplugging from multiple relationships he had with players like Tyler Seguin, John Klingberg and captain Jamie Benn.

“One of the best parts about my old job was how I evolved into this mentor or uncle hanging around these young guys,” Strangis said. “[Teaching] is just something I’ve always wanted to do. And I don’t know, I think there are some things I could do in the classroom that would be of great interest to young, impressionable minds.”

But leaving the Stars was not an easy decision. Having called numerous historic events, such as the 1999 Stanley Cup Championship, Hall of Famer Mike Modano’s final game and Jamie Benn’s Art Ross Trophy, the list of memorable events tied to Strangis seems endless.

Even with so many unforgettable moments as a broadcaster, Strangis said he’s ready to move on to the next chapter of his life.

“The Dallas Stars represent my past,” Strangis said. “I don’t want to trip over anything that’s behind me. And, well, it’s nice to have a break. NHL.com contacted me and asked me to write for them again this year. And I thought, ‘If I do that, I’ll have to pay attention. And I don’t want to pay attention.’”

Aside from school, the plan for Strangis is simple: He doesn’t have one.

Even his decision to leave the Stars was one he described as a few years, if not a lifetime in the making. After broadcasting over 2,000 National Hockey League games, Strangis prefers to take life as it comes: No schedule, no commitments and no strings attached.

One of Strangis’ co-workers from his days with the Stars, Josh Bogorad, said Strangis’ new ambitions come as a surprise. Bogorad, the host of Stars Live on Fox Sports Southwest, worked closely with Strangis from 2013 to 2015 and had no reservations about how Strangis lives his life.

“He’s Ralph,” Bogorad said. “And anyone that’s gotten a chance to know him knows what that means. He does things maybe differently than some would, but he does them confidently and he does them well. I think Stars fans were lucky to have [him] as the team’s voice for as long as he was.”

After only two short years of working with him, Bogorad said he believes Strangis would, if nothing else,  make an entertaining professor.

“He’s interesting, he’s engaging, and one of his passions has always been dealing with younger people,” Bogorad said. “I think he has some intangibles that if [teaching] is the route he wants to follow, you would be hard pressed to find a more interesting guy to teach you.”

UNT president Neal Smatresk commended Strangis’ commitment to education and agrees that the former play-by-play man would excel in the classroom.

“Someone like Ralph could add real-world savvy and understanding to a curriculum,” Smatresk said. “I think the students would just love it, because he is an insider to the industry.”

As for Strangis, the desire to stay young at heart is an aspiration he strives for every day.

After all, he still sees himself as a spry 24-year-old as opposed to a 54-year-old.

“I like young energy,” Strangis said. “The world is a pretty interesting place, and I think sometimes you can get stuck. And I didn’t want to be stuck. I wanted to try stuff.”

Featured Image: Ralph Strangis was the play by play announcer for the Dallas Stars from 1993 to April of 2015. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

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