Kristina Blais coaches one of her Maine Basketball Club teams. Submitted Photo

After graduating from Lewiston High School in 2016, Kristina Blais played a couple years of basketball at Central Maine Community College. During her time as a Mustang, Blais started working with some younger basketball players on some drills and technique. 

“Basically I just started off doing skills and drills stuff and I started doing that while I was in college,” Blais said. “A family friend had asked me to work with their kid and I realized, ‘Oh, OK, I have a little niche for this.’”

After starting up her own training business, Blais Hoops Academy, Maine Basketball Club became available. 

“I was doing skills and drills then for the Maine Basketball Club,” Blais said. “The owner of MBC, Frank Perry, said the whole time the plan was for me to take over eventually, and then COVID hit and he wanted to spend more time with his family, so it was the right time for me to take over.” 

Now, MBC has 23 AAU basketball teams and serves hundreds of kids in Lewiston.

Kristina Blais coaches one of her Maine Basketball Club teams. Submitted photo

Walking into MBC in Lewiston is a dream for any basketball player. There are basketball hoops surrounding the gym, with a bright purple court and decals along the walls of the MBC logo, quotes from players and coaches, and basketballs for dozens of players. 

You may even see Kobe Bryant’s former shooting coach, Dave Hopla, shooting around in the morning. 

It’s the sort of gym that Blais wishes she had growing up in the Lewiston-Auburn area. 

“When I was a kid growing up I was always itching to be in a gym,” Blais said. “How can I get in a gym more, how can I play more, is there anything year-round? MBC is year-round and I know from growing up in the community I know what’s lacking, especially for kids that want to play high-level ball some day.”

Blais’ basketball coaching also extends back to CMCC, where she is an assistant coach on the women’s team. Her boss in the winter, CMCC women’s basketball head coach Andrew Morong, has watched the growth and agrees that the gym is perfect for the community. 

“In my time living in this area, we never had one organization that has stood out and said, ‘Nope, we are doing this together. We aren’t separating,’” Morong said. “When she took over MBC it was her putting her foot down and saying, ‘You’re from Androscoggin county, you’re from Lewiston-Auburn, you’re playing at MBC. We are going to do this together, we are going to build this.’”

Blais oversees 23 teams, but she also coaches kids from as young as 3-years-old through the 12th grade. 

While AAU is MBC’s bread and butter, Blais believes that players should focus on high school basketball when the time comes around. 

“I think that offseason AAU can really crank the kids’ skill levels up,” Blais said. “Spring and Fall, spring is the main hitter. Summer we don’t do much because that is when their high school stuff starts up, and obviously winter because we always want them to focus on their high schools in the hands-on period. To me, even though I am the leader of MBC, I think high school is the most important thing. I like my players hearing from somebody else, anyways. There’s only so much that we can do.”

For Cali Pomerleau, a rising-freshman at Mt. Ararat High School and an MBC player, AAU and Blais have helped her confidence soar. 

“It’s changed me a lot,” Pomerleau said. “I’ve come from being the shyest kid you’ll ever meet to talking to everyone at a basketball tournament and not wanting to be alone. I’ve grown as a person and a player. AAU teaches you how to evolve from a player and it’s a lot faster.”

Avery Beal, also a rising-freshman at Mt. Ararat and teammate at MBC, agreed that Blais has been a positive influence for her on the basketball court. 

“It’s changed our mindset,” Beal said. “We have changed our attitude and we don’t react to things now and she’s done that for us, she’s taught us to not do those things.”

Just as her players know the impact Blais has had on them, Morong believed from the start that Blais was the person that MBC needed to take it to the next level. 

“One day we just looked at other opportunities in Lewisto-Auburn and we said, ‘We need to go talk to Frank Perry,’” Morong said. “Frank Perry, at the time, owned and operated MBC. We had dinner with him, it went well and I told her, ‘I know, Kristina, that you can take it to the next level.’ I know that anyone that is the least-bit connected to Kristina would say, ‘Yeah, obviously.’ I don’t know exactly when it happened but they cut a deal and she got the rights to it and really just blew it up.”

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