The Salvation Army Rookie Basketball Association (RBA) has been providing recreational, fundamental development basketball to the youth in Duluth, MN for the past thirty years. By hosting a variety of programs such as 3 on 3 tournaments, winter and spring leagues, and summer clinics, the RBA reaches more than 500 boys and girls and focuses on challenging them both on and off the court. In addition, they place a large emphasis on parent and coaching education. More than 60 volunteer youth coaches will be trained in the Why We Play coaches curriculum based on the Minnesota State High School League Coaches training, along with receiving printed copies of the Jr. NBA curriculum.
The RBA utilizes specific themes for its players to focus on to help develop whole athletes and whole people. On the court, they look to develop fundamental skills through the themes of offense, defense, and teamwork. Off the court, they emphasize having the right attitude by discussing how to play with one passion, power, and purpose. Each week, they have questions to foster discussion about what it means to play with one passion, power, and purpose. Coaches are encouraged to spend time at the end of each practice to discuss questions with their players, and parents are encouraged to do the same at home as well.
In order to provide additional opportunities for the youth, the Rookie Basketball Association partners with local high schools and the University of Minnesota Duluth. These opportunities include practicing alongside the varsity and college teams, meeting the players and coaches, and playing games at halftime of the varsity and college games. By providing these experiences, the RBA aims to give the youth positive exposure to local upper levels of basketball.
Due to its connection with The Salvation Army, all teams and players in the RBA work closely with The Salvation Army to give back to their community. Every March the RBA hosts a food drive to help stock The Salvation Army food shelf, often bringing in more than 400 pounds of food. Lastly, the RBA has provided 62 players this year with full scholarships to participate in their programs, as they don’t turn away youth for financial reasons. Because of this, the RBA plans to use their $1,000 Under Armour gift card to purchase basketballs and additional equipment for their programs.