The Brockville Blazers have been around for more than 20 years.
The youth basketball organization is still working on improving itself for boys and girls in the Brockville area.
After combining into the Brockville Basketball Association with the Brockville Blues -the boys portion of club basketball – a few years ago, there’s been another change to advance the sport in the community.
The association has decided to call itself the Brockville Blazers for both the girls and boys divisions of basketball.
“We talked about this. When you play for Brockville basketball, it’s going to be the Blazers,” said Kevin Beattie, the association president. “We’re trying to simplify it for everyone.”
That wasn’t an easy change to discontinue the Blues as a name and it disappointed some people, noted Beattie.
The association has already changed its logo to reflect the combination of the boys and girls divisions. Starting this season, the uniforms will sport the new insignia.
Beattie, Jeff Bates and a variety of committees that have attracted 30 people to the association are working on keeping club basketball alive and strong in Brockville.
The girls’ division has been around since 1990. The boys division was introduced in the spring of 2000, even though there had been rep teams prior to that.
An end-of-the-year meeting in the spring attracted more people to the organization and generated more possibilities for the future, noted Beattie.
“It was neat to see the young people coming out,” said Beattie of Blazers and Blues graduates Sam Joudoin and Carlos Navarro there, along with Dave Kelly and Dan Bayles.
Joudoin and Navarro coached last year with the Blazers and Blues, returning this year to take on a larger role with the organization.
“I’m a big believer in the fact the more good ideas you can come up with, the stronger the organization,” he Everybody left there (year-end meeting) very excited about the future.”
Committees have been formed to handle the new website, what is hoped to be a new and improved house league and a March Blaze. That will be a large, invitational tournament in Brockville at the end of February.
House leagues will be starting soon. Tryouts for the girls rep teams began last night and will be announced soon for all divisions. Tryouts for some of the young boys rep teams are also going to be announced.
The association promotes the young players with the help of high school all-star games for the boys and girls.
It would like to improve the skill level of players in elementary schools and in the early stages of high schools. That would be aimed at the recreational players and not just the rep talent.
It’s looking to provide an outlet for players at the house league level, along with helping the elite players develop to play at the university level.
The Blazers began that tradition with Stacey Dales and Cindy Scott in the 1990’s.
Since then, more than a dozen Blazers, including five in the 2010-11 season, have played Canadian community college or university basketball.
Last year, Kendall MacLeod won team awards for Carleton University while Ashleigh Cleary had a significant role on the Ravens.
Stacey Poapst was on the Algonquin College team that reached the Canadian community college basketball final.
“We just want to give kids opportunities during camps during the summer to experience that,” said Beattie, “something that is a little more structured.”
The next step will be developing a stepping stone towards growing basketball in Brockville, he explained.
That will take care of teaching and coaching the skills that each age level needs to help them improve as they get older, to help in athlete development, something in line with what provincial and national associations have structured, he noted.
“I think it’s exciting that so many people are getting involved,” said Beattie of the association.
For anyone else interested in coaching or volunteering, they are urged to contact Beattie at 613-348-1524 or Bates at 613- 348-1451.
People can also check out the club’s improved website at www.brockvilleblazers.com.