This Barrington family loves basketball

Raffa family plays, coaches and loves the game

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Known for their basketball prowess, the Raffa family of Barrington has certainly left their mark on the sport over the years. 

Starting with venerable grandfather, Michael John Raffa, and continuing with son, Michael James Raffa, and now, grandsons, Michael Patrick Raffa and Matthew John Raffa, this proud clan has been immersed in a deep hoop tradition, unlike most athletic families in the area.

A friendship forged on and off basketball court

“I’m still young enough to still enjoy all of this,” says the 71-year-old senior Raffa, who began his outstanding basketball odyssey as a standout point guard on Barrington High’s great basketball teams of the early 1960s. “Basketball is my passion. It keeps me young and engaged.”

And, don’t let his snow white hair fool you. Michael Raffa is still young at heart and full of vim and vigor. Now that he’s retired, he still stops by his old stomping grounds at St. Andrew's School and chit chats with good friend and Saint’s head basketball coach, Mike Hart. There’s hardly anyone in Barrington who doesn’t recognize Mr. Raffa…in or out of basketball.

Following his success as a high school player, the elder Raffa took his talents to nearby Barrington College, where he starred for the Warriors both as a player and coach. He also served as athletic director and head boys’ basketball coach at St. Andrew's School, and head coach of men’s basketball at Roger Williams University and Salve Regina University. He was also town of Barrington recreation director from 1980 to 2008. Along the way, he received many coaching honors, too numerous to mention here.

Nowadays, Mr. Raffa, who lives in Warren, spends time watching his two grandsons play basketball for the Barrington Middle School boys’ team.

Mr. Raffa remembers when his own son would follow him to games at a very early age.

“Michael has been coming to games since he was five years old,” he said. “He understood the game at a very young age.”

Today, Michael James Raffa is the assistant boys’ basketball coach at the Barrington Middle School, and thoroughly enjoys watching his own sons’ progress.

“My boys are different,” he explained. “Michael is a shooting guard, while Matthew is a point guard who can score. Basketball is in our blood. It’s in the family. My dad taught me a lot. I try to make my own kids better with everything my dad taught me. The life’s lessons I taught them is with the game we all love.”

Coach Raffa, like his dad, is an exemplary student of the game. He lettered for three years at Barrington High, graduating in 1989. He’s been the assistant coach of the boys’ team at the Barrington Middle School the past two seasons.

Previously, he coached the men’s basketball team at Salve Regina (1993 to 1999) under his father, and later (1999 to 2002) was the assistant men’s basketball coach at Roger Williams University under Tom Sienkiewicz.     

“I've been the head coach for Michael's Barrington Youth Basketball travel program team, since October of 2012,” noted. “We started together when the boys were in fourth grade and have stayed together through this current season.” 

He’s been the assistant coach for Matt’s Barrington Youth Basketball travel program since October of 2014. Both teams play in the very competitive Metro West League, which is headquartered in Mansfield.

For two years in the mid-90's, Coach Raffa worked and ran The Playerz Edge Skills Academy, which was for individual improvement for those in grades 3 thru 9 at the West Warwick Civic Center.

Barrington Middle School boys’ basketball head coach Bill St. Vincent said it’s been a pleasure having both Michael and Matthew Raffa on the team this season, as well as coach Raffa.

“Michael is an 8th grader and is probably our best shooter with 3-point range,” he said. “His small size presents a problem versus bigger, aggressive players. He is looking for that real strong growth spurt. He makes up for his size with hustle and basketball knowledge. He also is a good teammate, always smiling and talking. He just loves being in the gym and seems confident and happy.”

Coach St. Vincent is also high on younger brother, Matthew Raffa.

“Matt is a 6th grader about whom you can already say is ‘a player,’" he noted. “He is much quieter than his older brother but exudes a tangible confidence you do not see often in such a young kid. His basketball I.Q. is off the charts compared to players of almost any age. He knows where to be, how to get there, and what to do when he is there. Then, he has the skills to be successful. As with most 6th graders playing vs 8th graders, there are physical size obstacles, but Matt never backs down. He is not afraid to compete. I believe he is going to be a ‘special’ player. But like his brother Mike, he is already a special kid.”

Speaking on behalf of assistant coach Michael Raffa, Coach St. Vincent knows having a knowledgeable assistant by his side is a real plus.

“Mike is a ‘basketball lifer,’” he said, “a real junkie. He cannot get enough of the game. He and I get along great and aim to teach the game so it is played the right way and it is respected. Unfortunately for Mike, working and making a living gets in the way of his preference for basketball 24/7. As for the middle school team, Mike handles many of the Xs and Os. He plots out what the other team is doing and enthusiastically conveys it to the team. The players know and respect him because he is on their side trying to make them better so they can play in high school. Mike does all the things that an assistant coach does. He suggests substitutions, makes sure I know the timeout situation, will often take over the discussion during the timeout, and talks to substituted players about how to handle particular things that are happening on the court.

Coach St. Vincent concluded, “Having Mike allows us to use practice to concentrate on individual skills improvement and specifically lets me teach the finer points of basketball skills which I think is my strength. At times, I think Mike would be the better head coach. I haven't known him a long time, but I can see that he generally bleeds basketball, but most assuredly, he bleeds Barrington basketball. In summary, I've never been involved with a nicer family and that includes mom, Megan.”

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