We've had mixed success with RARA programs in the past. I'm a fan of how RARA runs their baseball program. This was our first year using RARA for basketball (my son is in third grade) and I'm as impressed with the basketball league as I am with their baseball league.
RARA Rochester Avon Recreation Authority holds youth basketball leagues for boys and girls for 3rd grade through 8th grade. Teams are selected by school with each team having at least 10 players on a team. If there aren't enough players to constitute a full team from one school, they blend the kids into other schools' teams until teams are filled. It's not uncommon for schools to field more than 1 team depending on how many kids sign up. RARA runs the same type of format for their baseball leagues as well. Coaches are selected from interested parents and usually a father of a player. RARA basketball is a popular program. The kids enjoy playing with teammates that are also their classmates and it promotes camaraderie.
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The RARA fee for the league includes an 8 week season (Saturday games), gym access at a Rochester Community Schools Jr. High School for games, 2 refs per game and a uniform (numbered t-shirt). The fee does not include a practice schedule or location so it's up to each coach to secure a Rochester Community Schools elementary school gym for practices. The whole practice scenario is optional but I can't see having a basketball team without having the kids practice. The coach for my son's team picked a Tuesday night 1 hour practice session for his team. Obviously there is a fee for gym rental. Ours worked out to be an additional $16.50 per child on top of the RARA fee. I personally wasn't thrilled with having to "pay extra" but was willing to go along with it so my son can practice and be with his teammates. This obviously isn't the fault of the coach; I just wish RARA would tack the price on in the beginning and not leave everything (scheduling, money collection) up to the coach who volunteers his time. The "pay for practice" is a minor annoyance but one I should mention.
RARA runs a pretty tight ship in terms of the basketball played. 1 hour games and a 2 referee system that promotes realistic youth basketball rules that are grade-level appropriate. Defenses are played "man to man" and the quarters are split evenly allowing the starting 5 players to substitute equally and fairly with the bench players. There were no instances in RARA I saw where coaches were unfairly matching up players to expose weaknesses as I've seen in other youth leagues. The refs run a tight ship. They call games relatively strictly and are involved. This allowed for competitive games and kids learning the fundamentals and rules as they played. I haven't witnessed a game yet where the refs "didn't care" were too inexperienced or let games "get out of hand".
Overall, I enjoyed the professionalism of the RARA youth basketball program. My son enjoyed playing in a large, modern gym in a competitive environment with his classmates. The enjoyment is largely dependant on the coaches. In that regard, there may be a "luck of the draw" element. In my sons' RARA baseball and RARA basketball leagues, we were fortunate to have dedicated coaches that went the extra mile in terms of practices and really knowing how to coach children. This review might be a lot different if we were stuck with a bad coach. So far, we have yet to have any problems with any of the coaches we have encountered in RARA.
RARA Rochester Avon Recreation Authority
103 E. Second St
Rochester, Michigan 48307
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