In 1990 The Brockville Blazers began as a girls basketball program to give local female athletes a chance to be recognized for their skills without having to travel far distances to play with an out of town team. Ed Bell, the initial organizer of this long-standing Association held the very first try out at which 66 girls competed for a spot on a 15 person team. That first team was at the Bantam age level which included girls in the seventh and eighth grades. While many believed the team would not succeed, they went on to win the Eastern Ontario Championships in that very first year. And that was only the beginning. In year two, the Brockville Blazers grew from one team to three.
Knowing that there were athletes in the area who had the skill to compete, Bell not only brought his team to tournaments across Eastern Ontario, they also played in tournaments on the South side of the border. When asked what the Blazers program did for female athletes, his response is straight forward, “It gave local athletes the opportunity to be recognized when they otherwise would not have had that chance.” Many of those “initial Blazers” went on to play basketball at the University and College levels. One player made it even further. Former WNBA forward, Stacey Dales played for Oklahoma University on a full ride scholarship and went on to be drafted to play for the Washington Mystics.
Over the years the program has grown into a full functioning Association to include teams at the Minor Bantam, Bantam, Midget, Juvenile and Junior age groups, giving local female athletes from grade six to grade twelve compete for a local team. A house league program was also developed to allow even more basketball players to have the chance to play in Brockville. What is exciting to see now is that girls who have played through the whole program and have gone off to play at the University Level are beginning to come back.
The Blazers program took off and was a major success for the area, but one question that Bell received numerous times throughout his coaching career was why there was not an equivalent boys program. The reasoning at the time was that there was not enough interest to form a full team and there was not enough commitment from coaches. In 2003 that all changed. Ed Bell, along with Josie Poapst put a plan into action to give local male athletes the same opportunity to play basketball. This plan led to the formation of the “Brockville Blues”, an all male basketball team which was put together for the same reason that the Blazers was; to give players a chance to be recognized for their talent and skill. The two programs came together as the “Brockville Basketball Association” in 2011 and are running a strong organization rooted in the belief of building skill and character through sport.
The Association has grown more to include even younger athletes. Today, “Small Ball” takes place in the gym once a week for players ages and house league programs run throughout the year.