As the final buzzer rang, and his team started to celebrate in front of parents and students, Tim Cozens couldn’t help but feel bittersweet about the end of the season.
“I’m a two-sport varsity athlete, captain of the lacrosse team, but I look forward to the winter the most,” said Cozens, a senior at Ridgefield High. “There’s nothing like it, nothing like RBA. For a lot of kids, this is all they have. The impact it has on everyone is amazing. I’m going to miss it, I really am.”
Cozens’ sentiment is shared by many who are a part of the popular RBA (Ridgefield Basketball Association) high school program.
“RBA means everything to me,” said senior Michael Sexton. “It’s the one thing in town that all high schoolers can be involved in. It has nothing to do with school itself, while maintaining that school atmosphere. It keeps you connected to kids that you wouldn’t normally talk to without a league like this.”
The high school program, which has seasons in the fall and winter, represents the oldest age division in the RBA, which has house and travel programs for younger children. Some of the high school players have been in the RBA since first grade, playing against peers and building friendships.
To some people, the RBA high school division would appear to be a laid-back league, comprised of players who are not in the Ridgefield High program. In reality, though, it is very competitive; many students give RBA their all game in and game out. Yet it’s not about winning and losing, despite the competitive nature.
“[RBA] is important to me, and today shows why it’s important to me,” said Director of Operations Joe Heinzmann at last weekend’s title game. “When I see all the spectators, all the parents, all the good fellowship among the students out here today — that’s what means the most to me.”
The high school boys championship game was played Sunday morning at the RHS gym in front of a good number of students and parents, with Team Cozens winning the title.
“Besides the victory, I’d probably have to say the relationships I was able to build with fellow RBAers was most important,” said Tim Cozens, his team’s player-manager. “The high school RBA community and family is really amazing to be a part of, and I’m really going to miss being in it. Some of the bonds I’ve built with people this season, and over four years, are some I’ll keep forever thanks to RBA.”
“High school RBA is a great program because of the way it brings the entire school closer,” said Ryan Debany, whose team lost in the championship game. “Kids from all different grades and social groups come together to play basketball for fun. There has been nothing better than playing RBA on each weekend in the winter.”
“In Ridgefield, 37% of all high school boys play basketball in the winter. That’s a number I don’t think exists in other school,” said Heinzmann. “We have an elementary school at Branchville and an elementary school up in Ridgebury, and those kids don’t see each other until they come to high school. RBA gets them all together before they get to high school and that means a lot to the town.”