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History
The North Central Blaze is a non-profit youth sports basketball organization. The club is a member of the Amateur Athletic Union of the U.S.A. Inc. (AAU). North Central Blaze is recognized as tax-exempt under the Amateur Athletic Union of the U.S. Inc.'s group 501(c)3 determination ruling. Our club currently serves female and male athletes in age divisions from 9-and-under through Junior Divisions (16U) in all communities throughout Central and Eastern Massachusetts as well as Southern New Hampshire.
Founded in the early 1990s with just two teams and 24 players, the Blaze will be entering its 20th year in Spring 2013 with an expected enrollment of roughly 275 players.
In 2012, the Blaze supported 15 girls teams and 10 boys teams with players representing over 35 communities including Acton, Ashburnham, Ashby, Athol, Ayer, Barre, Baldwinville, Chemsford, Bolton, Boxboro, Dunstable, Fitchburg, Gardner, Groton, Harvard, Holden, Hubbardston, Lancaster, Leominster, Littleton, Lowell, Lunenburg, Marlboro, Pepperell, Rutland, Sterling, Still River, Townsend, Wellesley, West Boylston, Westford, Westminster, and Winchendon, among others. The Blaze has had a great deal of team success recently, including more than 20 top-8 finishes or better in the Mass. State AAU Championships since 2003, and other accomplishments at the Bay State Games.

Mission
To provide the highest quality of basketball instruction in a supportive and enjoyable program to area athletes who wish to compete, at an affordable cost. Teams will compete at the local, regional and national level based on their ability, commitment and desire.

Eligibility
Any player who resides in any of the states within the New England AAU region is eligible to participate with the Blaze. This can include ANY player from Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire or Vermont.
Eligibility for boys or girls team is based onage and grade in school. Please visit the following links for more information.  

For GIRLS: www.neaau.org/girlsbasketball.aspx
For BOYS: www.aauboysbasketball.org

Tryouts
Players wishing to play for a Blaze team must go through an evaluation/tryout as determined by the coach(es) at their grade/age level. Tryouts are held annually in January. Please visit our website in late December and January for details on tryout dates and locations.

The Season
The AAU season runs from roughly mid-March through June or July. Most Blaze teams will not begin practice before the winter recreational, travel or high school season is concluded.
Some Blaze teams may choose to convene the same year for a fall season of practices and tournaments, depending on the wishes of the team and/or coaches.
AAU Tournaments typically occur on weekends in a two-games per day format (2 games Saturday, 2 games Sunday). Most Blaze teams participate in tournaments within an hour's drive of the Leominster or Groton areas. Some teams may choose to travel farther distances for more prestigious or more competitive tournaments.

Cost
The North Central Blaze prides itself on being one of the most affordable AAU girls basketball programs in all of New England. The total cost is determined on a team-by-team basis, depending on the number of tournaments each team attends. In Spring 2012, total costs ranged from $375 per player to about $525.
That cost includes a brand-new, pro-quality uniform, an organizational fee and tournament participation. Additional costs may be incurred for teams choosing to attend more prestigious tournaments out-of-state. Lodging, gas, food and other incidentals incurred on an overnight trip are NOT covered. There will also be a tryout fee, along with annual dues for player registration with national AAU (currently $14 with added benefits).
Additional costs are also incurred for teams playing in the fall.

Practices
Players are expected to commit to attend practice on a regular basis and help to contribute to the team's development as well as their own. Most teams practice once or twice per week at a location determined by the Blaze and/or the coach prior to the start of the season. Practices sites are located throughout the region, including Leominster, Fitchburg, Townsend, Pepperell, Shirley, Groton and Harvard, among others.

Coaching staff
Our head coaches are chosen based on their level of experience, commitment to excellence, and passion for the game of basketball. All coaches have several years of experience at the collegiate, high-school varsity, JV or middle-school/travel-team level. Coaching opportunities are available. Please contact Mike Davidson (girls) or Peter Patno (boys). See contact information below.

Playing Time
Playing time on a Blaze team is typically determined by the head coach. There are no set guidelines regarding a minimum amount of playing time for each player in any given tournament, however, our coaches are chosen based on their track record of being fair and honest to all players on their teams.

Parents Responsibility
All parents and players are needed and expected to provide assistance at tournaments hosted by the Blaze. Our organization hosts annual spring tournaments typically in April and June. Parents are needed to run scoreboards, run concessions, oversee gyms, and other such matters.
Our tournaments are vital to the successful operation of the Blaze program. Revenues generated at tournaments help keep our player fees low and allow us to offset the cost of equipment, uniforms and facilities for our players.

Sponsorship
If you would like to join the Blaze family as an individual or corporate sponsor, please contact Mike Davidson (see contact info. below).

Contacts
For more information about the Blaze or to inquire about tryouts, coaching opportunities or individual and corporate sponsorships, please contact any of the individuals listed below.

Club president/Girls Director: Mike Davidson, email: miked0109@verizon.net, telephone: 978-257-5887
Vice president/Boys Director: Peter Patno

Board of Directors: Mark Roy, Rick Gibbons, Rick Beauregard, Joe Bibbo, Steve Snow, Mike Wilmont, Peter Page, John Megan





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