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Rockbridge Area Recreation Organization

Rockbridge Area Recreation Organization

March 2024

Post season / Wrap-up

What a great thing to witness: The nervous energy that was present at the start of the season transformed into an abundance of confidence at the end. The tournament atmosphere was everything that one would expect this season. The parents were loud and proud. Our participants made some amazing improvements. The bleachers at these games were full. Championship night reminded all of us here at RARO just what youth sports is about. The fans cheered for kids making plays and hustling; if it was a good play, it did not matter which team they were on, the fans let everyone know. 

Most anyone can attest to the many lessons learned from sports, but I want to draw your focus to four:  fundamentals, hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. Learning the fundamentals of any skill are critical to overall success. They allow you to be more efficient and have repeated success. Fundamentals do not come easy and take hard work, dedication, and sacrifice to master. Through hard work, we learn to focus our efforts and give it our all. Dedication comes regardless if the success happens instantly. We must continue to strive forward even when that doubt sets in. Sacrifice, as we all know, is giving something up for a greater good. Mostly it ends up being time or money. Sacrifices made with a focused effort and goal in mind, will also lead you down a path to success. All four of these qualities must be developed and rarely exist on their own. They are all interconnected and will often lean on each other to keep you moving forward. 

Being keenly aware of these four intangibles are critical to how the experience plays out. Even when we are aware, it can still be tough. In sports, I have failed as a coach, a fan, and as a parent. In failure and success, I have learned that these 4 things can ultimately shape lives for years down the road. I know they have mine!

February 2024

Breakdown of a Season - Pt. 3 Winding Down

As we enter the final weeks of our winter season, we must remain steadfast in leaving a positive impression on all of our participants. The last practice is closing in, the final games (both regularly scheduled and makeups) are concluding, and the end of season tournaments are upon us. The most important things, however, are making sure that expectations from the season are met. For me:

Did our kids, parents, fans see that we care?

Did we pour heavily into the growth of our participants? 

Has this been a positive experience for all?

The end of the season typically brings a multitude of emotions that are starkly different from when we started. The quiet and nervous energy at the beginning is no longer easily found. I use the term “everyone” very loosely, but “everyone” has reached that comfort zone of knowing what to expect and have made up their minds on how the overall program is running. “Everyone” seems to be a little more aggressive, a little more confident, and a whole lot louder. Rightfully so, as many feel the overall success of the season depends on the last few games. The general consensus on emotions at this point are: sad, glad, or mad. Some are sad to see it end, while others are way past ready to move on and are quite glad, as the season didn’t go as expected. While we never want anyone mad, it stands to reason that a few will be upset as the season did not meet their expectations. When the season finishes, whatever the emotion, we can only hope that:

  • Our coaches are remembered for the positive impact they made

  • Our kids have learned 

  • Our kids are actually quite upset that the season is ending and cannot wait to sign-up again

Be sure to check back in March, as we wrap up the Breakdown of a Season series with the “Postseason”

January 2024

Breakdown of a Season - Pt. 2 A Critical Juncture

In November, we discussed how nervous energy abounds when first starting the season. From the parents, to the kids, and the coaches, the whole field or court is filled with it. Once the beginning jitters begin to wear off, the second phase of the season begins. A sense of comfort takes hold as most things become clearer: dates, times, expectations; learning is also at its strongest during this time. With comfort levels rising, the opportunity for the most growth occurs, as “trust” is forming. This is one of the most fun stages of the season, as the participants are like sponges and eager to learn. However…

A critical juncture is looming. Usually about the time that the "trust" bond is growing, the 2nd major hurdle pops up and that being the need for Proof.  Games have begun and the trust of what to do and when is put to the test. This is what I call the “tipping” point of the season. If everything goes as planned, the season begins to tip in favor of a successful one. If the expectations and preconceived notions are not met, the season stands to tip the other way. It's at this point that coaches need to make sure that everything previously put into place  is being reinforced. We must pour heavily into our kids' growth and show, more than ever, how much we care.

Keep following along as February will take us into the home stretch of the season and how everyone involved plays a vital role in leaving a positive lasting impression.

December 2023

In the Spirit...

During this time of year, many gifts are given and received. A new year is all but here and many resolutions will be made. This year, I would challenge you to not only love the gifts we receive, but the giver just the same, if not more. 

My social media posts, however few and far between, usually have the #giftoftime attached to them. If we are being honest we all would like just a little more time doing whatever it is we love or spending more time with the ones we love. Arguably, investing in people could be one of the best gifts ever! When we spend time trying to help others grow, both sides mutually benefit.

Investing in people is a tremendous gift, not only for the person receiving, but the Giver as well. Honestly, the Giver will probably have as many memories and stories to tell that far exceed those that received their gift. As we grow older, it is believed that wisdom follows. There’s a ton to unwrap here, but, for the sake of time, gaining knowledge through our personal experiences and then using that to positively help someone else is priceless. 

RARO programs are designed to do just that. From investing in our youth as a coach or official to spending time with friends on a court or field, we are giving and being given the Gift of Time. You should want to be an active participant in your own life and the lives of others. During this gift giving & resolution making season, get in the spirit, & find a way to get connected with us! Our programs are striving to be a part of your life; will you strive to be a part of ours?

As for our New Year's resolutions:
1. Continue to grow the quality of programs that we currently offer!
2. Expand offerings to provide something for all ages!

PS - Follow along as new plans and programs will be rolling out soon!

November 2023

The break down of a season…Part 1 A whirlwind

Coaching youth sports will almost always be a challenge, but for those that are up to it, it can be one of the most rewarding things you ever do. After all, there are many factors that make it so rewarding. These factors include some critical junctures and learning to recognize and “win” each phase will almost undoubtedly create a successful season. 

As we move into our winter season, I am going to take each month and talk about the different phases. We will have roughly 400 participants and 80-100 coaches. This newsletter is going out to over 1,100 followers. Hopefully, by recognizing the stages of a season, at least through my eyes, will help you and the coaches navigate it into a successful one. This will either be me breaking down a season or you finding where the season breaks down.

From registration to evaluations, we are busy compiling information and searching for coaches. Every season, we strive to find knowledgeable and caring coaches. Coaches that are vested in helping our youth grow. Sometimes it comes easy and other times we struggle and really have to search. Some people are great with the sport, but struggle in relaying information. Others are great with people, but lack the knowledge needed to teach the fundamentals. Even on occasion, we get a coach living vicariously in their child’s experience. Last month, I mentioned how we remember those coaches of our past. We strive to make sure that each of our coaches will be a positive memory for years to come. If you don’t believe this, think back to your childhood and your coaches. You remember them….the good ones, the ones you liked, and didn’t like. I am willing to bet you could even tell me why. 

For some of our leagues, evaluations are coming up soon. This process is not a fun one and might seem simple, but it does give us a glimpse into the differing skill levels of our players. This allows us to use this information when forming teams to create a competitive league.  

When evaluations are finished and teams are set, the phases of a season begin:

Phase 1 - Nerves

The first days of the season are often very exciting and nervous for everybody: players, parents, coaches. The excitement for the season is obvious, a nervous energy abounds as everyone tries to figure out all of the unknowns and how the season will take shape. Communication is important during this stage. So many questions, so many unknowns. How much and how clearly information is shared during this phase will help ease everyone’s nerves. 

Check back in December to learn what happens after the nerves settle and a level of comfort sets in.

October 2023

Coach ‘em up…not down

We all have those people in our lives that build our confidence rather than destroy it. We can quickly identify what it was about them that did either. Coaching is one of our largest areas for folks to volunteer in youth sports. I believe there are numerous reasons people sign on to coach, but one reason that must be a part of every youth coach is building them up. Growing their confidence in a manner that they not only feel prepared to play, but confident enough to succeed. As confidence grows, so does the quality of the overall experience. RARO’s goal is do just that…provide a positive overall experience.

If you have never coached, you will find that it is not as easy as it seems. Understanding the basics of a given sport, along with how to relay that information in a manner that it can be understood is vital to the growth of our participants. Coaching comes in many forms! Coaches must be versatile. They have to know when to be demanding and tough, but also know when to be lighthearted and fun. A healthy mix of the two allows accountability, discipline, confidence, and a love of the game to be nurtured.

Many youth coaches simply model how their coaches acted when they were players. Tearing down in hopes of motivating a better performance and drive was once looked at as the standard method to achieving success. These coaches were almost always demanding and disciplined, but I often wonder where the satisfaction came from: in watching growth or at the expense of it for success.

I often hear people say that kids have changed, but I have to disagree. In my experience, kids want to be held accountable, taught in a manner that builds them up so they can succeed. Kids haven’t changed, we have changed. Our standards have changed. We must find a way to push, challenge, teach, and relate to our players – all in a manner that keeps them hungry for more.

We are always looking for coaches that understand these qualities. If you have an in-depth knowledge of a specific sport, can present the information in a way that kids can understand, and gain confidence…get in touch with us and find out just how rewarding being a youth coach can be!

In my professional career, “Coach” is a title I will always hold with the highest regard.


“Making a difference…”

Whew…what a loaded phrase. Making a difference comes in many forms: some positive, some negative. Our preseason emphasis has been on just that…making a difference. We hope that you (the community as a whole) will join us! RARO’s goal heading into ’23-’24 is to continue making a positive difference with our participants and in our community.

Our plans include improving the quality of our fields and programs. We feel this is largely impacted by our partnerships, including: school systems, colleges/universities, businesses and our local residents.

This summer and fall has already proven to be a successful start to this goal. We have partnered with local businesses such as Journey Outdoors, Maury River Smallmouth, Walkabout Outfitters, Lexington Running Shop, Rail’s End and many more. The baseball academy for this fall is being instructed by the VMI Coaching Staff. We hope to announce more as the Fall season kicks off.

Make a difference…no matter where you go or what you do, make a difference! If that becomes a goal for each one of us and we collaborate and work together…we will in fact create CHANGE!

August 2023

RARO’s Resurgence…

Over the last year or so, RARO has found enormous growth in many ways. Every aspect of the organization has been and is being carefully evaluated. 2022-23 proved to be a record year for us, in that, we served over 1,800 local residents. For comparison, if you look back to the last full PreCOVID year, we serviced around 1,400 residents.

Lots of effort had been put into improving our programs including infrastructure. Facility and equipment upgrades will be ongoing this year.

While many are returning to the ball fields and courts, there has been a demand for more and differing programs. Rest assured that RARO is committed to diversifying and becoming a complete recreation department for all ages in this area. Be sure to keep an eye out in the coming months for many exciting new programs.

With Fall registrations mostly complete, this year is shaping up to break even more records.

As we continue to expand, we would love your help! Participation is key, but so is volunteering and helping lead! Reach out and let me know how we can get you involved.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them!” -John F. Kennedy

RARO Day was just one way that we were able to show our appreciation last year. We will continue to show our thanks in the coming year!

May 2023

"More than just talk"

Throughout the course of the year, we hear many compliments, as well as complaints. The latter are always the ones that seem to stick. I would challenge anyone to be better than a complainer. Help! Help make a difference!  We are turning a corner; one that is focused on providing awesome experiences for all that choose to participate with us. We are constantly evaluating each program and feedback is important for us to be able to properly serve the community. Our mindset is that we can always improve the quality of our programs. To those that provide feedback, thank you! To those that choose to participate with us, thank you!

We review every one of our programs and events to determine how we can improve. Some have this picture from the past stuck in their minds, but I am not sure that is the same picture that is seen today. Our programs, facilities, communication, and equipment have all improved. This is our way of listening. This is our way of showing how appreciative we are of the support that is shown to RARO throughout the year.

This weekend we will hold our 2nd annual RARO Appreciation Day. The intent is not just to say thank you to those that participate with us, but also to thank the communities for allowing us to serve you! Our kids are our future and deserve it! If you are curious about what we are providing or the steps we are taking to be better, please call and we can chat!

Consider joining us on Saturday, May 6th at Camden Field in Buena Vista from 11-2 for a public appreciation day filled with games, prizes, and food. Our appreciation is more than just words, its a gratitude that we live by!

April 2023


As the tiring work of the pavilion project was coming to close on Tuesday, 4/4, a newly forged weather vane was temporarily placed atop the structure. Something caught my eye and I could not get it out of my head. The picture with the quote at the top of this month’s newsletter shows what had my attention. All I could focus on was the W and E which are seen by most as cardinal directions, but for that instance, WE was what stood out!

WE all know how this word is used and what it means. WE is used by a speaker to tie themself to a group of people considered to be together.

RARO is solely built on “WE”. Working together in every aspect of our organization is what makes us successful. There is nothing about I or Me that makes any one thing happen. This project did nothing more than epitomize just that.

On Thursday and Friday, I met hundreds of people whose only interest was to collectively work together to provide for a community. Many from around the area stopped by to help or just watch; while many others followed along on our social media page as progress happened. Spring break for some of the local schools made it difficult for people to help, but difficult doesn’t mean they didn’t. WE had many people offer food, money, or services when they could.

The RARO staff each have their own families and happenings, but WE all sacrificed to make this a success. As they have done many times, the Mullen’s sacrificed their property and home for the work to be done. WE had people, not associated with any group, nor helping in the build offer what they could.

Over the next several weeks, the final pieces to the project will come together. WE hope that this community will use and cherish this beautiful structure for many years to come. Roofing, electrical, & tables are all yet to be completed, along with placing the weathervane in its final resting spot. WE hope for the pavilion to be ready to use by the Middle of May.

As you stop by to see or use this structure, I hope that the cardinal directions of “W” & “E” stand out to you in the same manner that they did for me. WE are working hard with and for you & WE is the only direction in which progress and moving forward will happen.

March 2023

I recently ran across this old quote I used a lot during my coaching days. Wow! This quote resonates with all that is going on in RARO right now. I have talked extensively about RARO’s growth, but lets be honest….it doesn’t happen without people coming together, keeping together, and working together. Brick by Brick, RARO intends to help this community thrive!

In this month’s newsletter, you will find RARO making connections with community members to combine efforts and revitalize an old field in Fairfield in the name of Coach Jerry Mace! RARO has worked with County personnel and the Rockbridge Regional Jail on this endeavor. County Schools have helped fix lighting in the old Rivermont gym.

In Lexington, a new timber frame pavilion will be constructed around the time of the next newsletter. There will be many to thank for this project; but currently: the Timber Frame Association, Lexington City Public Works, City Council & Planning Commission have led the way in making this project happen.

Another huge announcement is in our summer programming. RARO Adventures will begin this summer to provide recreation education. This summer we will be offering Kayaking and Hiking/Backpacking. For this program to take place, we have partnered with Journey Outdoors and Maury River Smallmouth for the Kayaking. Walkabout Outfitters will be working with us on the hiking/backpacking adventure in July.

We are super excited to be working with so many in the community, but as always, we need your participation to continue growing as an organization. Join us in making RARO an organization for all!

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is Success.”

February 2023

To start, I would like to say I’m Sorry for not getting a January Newsletter out. Not an excuse maker, so I won’t give one. But simply, I’m Sorry.

RARO has grown by leaps and bounds in mere months. For the last year, RARO has been fully staffed and been able to provide more for everyone. Educational clinics and practice support are now available to coaches. Development clinics and Skills competitions are being provided for most sports. More and more adult programs are being progressively added.

We are striving to provide something for everyone. Working for and with the community allows us to offer a variety of programs that, in turn, allows for that growth. We are listening to the concerns, the suggestions, and the demands. Through listening, we can make the needed changes that so many speak of. To grow, we need even more support from everyone in the community. Program Participation, Business support, Volunteering are all things needed.

It is safe to say that huge strides in providing for everyone have been taken. BUT, there are no signs of slowing down. 2023 is shaping up to be a banner year! There are many facility improvement projects in the works. RARO intends to be even more visible in the community. New programs and offerings are being unveiled with each passing season and until we can meet the needs of the community as a whole, growth will continue to be the only thing on our mind.

It's hard to miss all the things happening at RARO. With each improvement is a chance to prove ourselves. If you have tried RARO in the past and were not pleased, TRY again, I think you’ll be pleased. If you’ve never participated with us, you should!

If your not involved at this point, there’s a good chance your missing out!

December 2022

The Most Wonderful Time of Year

“Feeling Gratitude and Not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it!” A quote by William Arthur Ward succinctly wraps up this time of year. 

During the holiday season, we often find ourselves reflecting, giving thanks, and celebrating. For most, this is one of the most selfless times of year. If you find yourself doing any of the above, you will most likely be thinking about how to make a difference.

RARO is no different. We are super thankful for everyone that chooses to participate with us. Our participants are our #1 priority. In our reflection of the past year, we have seen a lot of growth and reasons to be optimistic about the future. We have so many volunteers that give of their time to help our organization reach its potential. From our coaches to project helpers to businesses offering discounts, we are truly thankful! There have been numerous projects completed recently and many more in the works; all with the same goal: to provide meaningful recreational opportunities for everyone in Buena Vista, Lexington, and Rockbridge County. 

While we finish the year reflecting, giving thanks, and celebrating; we are already planning how to continue making a difference in this community. We hope that you follow along and realize how special this area is.

From everyone here at RARO, please accept our deepest gratitude for everyone that chooses to participate with us. 

Cheers to ‘23!

November 2022

Growth and Passion

Over the last year, RARO has taken many steps to improve the overall quality of the programs we offer. In an effort to become a more complete and dynamic recreation department, we have branched back into adult programs. Our youth programs now have several new fundamental development and growth opportunities in different sports. Our coaches and officials have more training and help available to them, to help create better experiences for our youth. While a lot of change has taken place and been well received, we would love to hear from you! We do not have plans of stopping.

We have several new ideas and are beginning to plan for the future. We want you, the community, to be a part of that process. Please contact the office and let us know if there are programs or other opportunities you would like us to make available. While we cannot guarantee that we will act on every good idea, we would like enough feedback to guide our conversations on growth moving forward.

Your voice is responsible for year-round pickleball opportunities and the adult summer & fall softball seasons offered this year. We cannot grow just because we wish it to happen. If we combine your voice with our passion, growth is inevitable.

“Growth is never by chance; it is the result of forces working together! -James Cash Penney

October 2022

Volunteers, are they a dying breed?

In trying to grow as an organization, we often run into the dilemma of managing all that we do and having enough help to do it. With today's busy schedules, it is often very hard to find time to give back. RARO relies heavily on volunteers.  It seems that number is shrinking from one year to the next. We used to have 400-500 hundred offering to help, now that number is closer to a 1/4th. There are many ways to give back and hope that you consider giving back to our youth and our community. 

Our largest group of volunteers comes in the form of coaches, but there are many other needs for  volunteers. We are grateful for those that currently give their time. I am worried, though, that we are trending in a path where we ask for too much from the same people. It is our hope to have people repeatedly offering to help rather than getting burned out. When it comes to volunteering, a little goes a long way.

This area has been rich with good athletes and coaching at our high schools and colleges. These coaches have poured valuable information into most people taking the time to read this. Information that, I am sure, has benefitted you in your life and could benefit others. BUT...If you keep this information only for yourself, are you helping to ensure the success of the next generation?

There are so many ways you can help aside from coaching. As you read through the ways to help in this month’s newsletter, I hope that you will consider giving a little of your time in knowing that it will make a huge difference. It is often said that “it takes a village” to raise our youth and that couldn’t be truer in youth sports. There are so many people needed to run efficient and productive programs. While RARO does the facilitating and managing of these programs, we still NEED you!

In thinking about why the numbers of volunteers seem to be shrinking, I think of this story shared to me once by a Coach.

“That’s Not My Job”

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody would do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

Helping our community grow and come together is a job Everybody should do! Somebody, typically, expects Anybody to do the things that need to be done, but more times than not, Nobody is the one that signs up.

Sorry to get philosophical, but we, at least, owe it to our youth to provide the best opportunities for them to grow. Without selfless giving of time, energy, and resources, our programs will fall short of the standard that we set so high! Any amount of help that can be given makes a huge difference.

By choosing to help, you are changing the current trend that makes offering new programs a challenge.

Please consider helping out! Our kids’, your kids’ growth depends on it.

September 2022


Wait List. The Dreaded Wait List. We receive numerous calls and questions about registering after the normal registration period. Participants that sign up after our registration deadline are placed on a wait list in the order in which they were received. As spots open up on teams or if the waiting list becomes large enough to form another team, then participants will be contacted and added.

While we strive to get every kid participating and on a team, sometimes it's just not feasible, as it can take away from the overall experience of those that signed up on time. We do our best to keep participant #'s on teams at an ideal level for growth, safety, and maximum participation. There is often a fine line between too many and not enough. BUT, we do find a way to make it work with every kid that registers during our normal registration period. 

Here at RARO, when people tell us that they didn’t know anything about registration, we find it very difficult to believe. We advertise through our website, email database, Facebook, newspaper, newsletter, and with signs in front of every school. There is a yearly program guide on our website and in our office as well that has all programs, seasons, and registration periods listed. 

We can only guarantee that your son/daughter will be placed on a team if they registered during our normal registration period. For your convenience, during our normal registration window, we also have online registration.  We are here to help! Help us, Help you, Sign up on time!


Rockbridge Area Recreational Organization
RARO Office 300A White Street Lexington VA 24450 

Phone: 540-463-9525
Email: [email protected]

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