Introducing the 2016 Madison Blaze All Stars
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Introducing The 2016 Madison Blaze All Stars

July 2016
Written By: Andrew Thorland
As the 2016 IWFL season wraps up this weekend in North Carolina, the Blaze would like to take this week to honor the six players and coach who were nominated for the Eastern Conference All Star team. These six players were nominated by the Blaze coaching staff for their hard work and excellence on the field. 
#13 Akiya Alexander WR/DB

Now in her second season with the Madison Blaze, Alexander has become a force to be reckoned with no matter where she is on the field. She has shown time after time that she can make one big play after another, whether it be on a long pass down field, a jet sweep out of the backfield, a punt return or a timely interception on defense. Alexander finished the year with 10 catches for 107 yards and one touchdown and had five passes deflected on defense, as well as many touchdown saving tackles. The highlight of the year for Alexander would come on a 57 yard touchdown on the jet sweep against the Iowa Crush.

What the All Star nomination means to Alexander:

"It's always an honor to be recognized of your talent in an All Star setting. I give all the credit to my teammates for the motivation day in and day out. Hard work and dedication pays off. My teammates provide me all the blocks and lanes to run through, so I am appreciative of the recognition but I owe it to my teammates, the coaches, fans, sponsors and the entire Blaze organization. Congratulations to all of the other All Stars around the league. We all have one goal and that's to put women's football on the map."
#1 Chelsea Alt K/WR

Alt finished the 2016 season among the league leaders in kicking, finishing third in the league in extra point percentage, going 12 out of 15. With her strong and powerful leg, Alt also consistently pinned opposing teams deep in their own territory on kickoffs by having 16 kicks of over 40 yards. On offense she had 14 catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns, as well as 28 rushes for 85 yards with a touchdown late in the season as she begun to play nearly every position for the Blaze in 2016.

What the All Star nomination means to Alt:

"I'm honored to have my name listed as one of the top players in our league. It really goes to show that the hard work and dedication I've put into the game of football is paying off. Meeting and playing next to the best in the IWFL has always been an amazing experience and I look forward to doing it again this year and meeting women football players from all over the United States. It's an honor to represent the Madison Blaze and the state of Wisconsin in North Carolina for the All Star game.

#65 Ali Bjelopetrovich OL

In her third season with the Blaze, Bjelopetrovich once again helped anchor the Blaze offensive line and helped open up running and passing lanes for the offense while protecting the quarterback. With her great blocking and hard work in the trenches, the Blaze offense was able to rush for over 1000 yards during the 2016 season, and produce one of the best running games in the league. Bjelopetrovich has continued to improve each season that she's been in the league and has become one of the biggest leaders for the Blaze over the past few seasons with her hard work both on and off the field.

What the All Star nomination means to Bjelopetrovich:

"Its a real honor and privilege to be nominated for the second year in a row. As I look back to my rookie season 2 years ago I realize how far I have come and how much I have learned. The coaches are one of the reasons that all of this was possible for trusting in me, believing in me and pushing me beyond what I thought was possible. The other reasons are my Blaze teammates, they are the reason I am who I am on the football field. Unfortunately there are more Blaze players than All Star slots but they deserve all the credit and the title of All Star".
#34 Pam Close LB
With the Blaze since the inception of the team, Close continues to play at a high level for the Blaze. Her smart, heads up play often results in a number of drive stalling tackles throughout the season. She continues to be all over the field, and always seems to be able to come up with a big play when the Blaze defense needs one. Close finished the season with 23 tackles, and had one shutout clinching interception in the final moments against the Iowa Crush to finish off the 2016 regular season.

What the All Star nomination means to Close:

"It is a great honor to be named as an All Star to represent your team. To be recognized for your play on the field by your coaches and other players in the league is special. Knowing that your hard work shows on the field makes you want to work harder. But the honor is more indicative of the team around you. No one becomes an All Star without the teammates around them. My Blaze teammates work hard and do their jobs on the field allowing me to do mine. It is a great honor and privilege to represent the Madison Blaze as an All Star.

#24 Kara Haines QB/RB

Once again, Haines did a little bit of everything for the Blaze in 2016. Throughout the season she played quarterback, running back, kick returner and defensive back. Haines finished sixth in the league in rushing with 733 yards on 125 carries, and scored eight touchdowns. She also had 12 kick returns for 187 yards. Highlights of the season for Haines included a game against the Nebraska Stampede in which she had 24 carries for 200 yards witih four touchdowns, and threw for a touchdown to have in hand in all five touchdowns the team scored that day, as well as a performance against the Iowa Crush in which she had a 51 yard touchdown run and an 82 yard interception return for a touchdown. The 82 yard interception return was the second longest in the IWFL during the regular season. 

What the All Star nomination means to Haines:

"Being an All Star is a great accomplishment. Its of great honor- and a privilege to play among the best in the league. I am looking forward to playing in the All Star game and being able to represent the Madison Blaze."

#23 Kaarina Stehley
In just her first season in the league, Stehley instantly made her presence felt with a bang to the rest of the league. Leading the team in tackles nearly every game of the season, Stehley was the anchor of the Blaze defense in 2016. Stehley led the team in tackles with 47, while having two games where she had 12 tackles, as well as adding a sack, a 20 yard interception return for a touchdown and a catch on a two point conversion, which both came against the Iowa Crush, to her impressive rookie resume. Her ability to be all over the field at any given moment has already made her a terror to opposing offenses. 

What the All Star nomination means to Stehley:

"Being named an All-Star is a huge validation of all the hard work I've put in this season. I'm very excited and honored to represent the Madison Blaze and that my coaches felt that I earned the right to be nominated. I definitely couldn't of done everything that I did this year without my awesome sisters backing me up on defense. They taught me a lot in such a small amount of time, and for that I'm so grateful. All-Star weekend will be a great experience for me. I can pick the brains of all the talented other players that will be attending. Being in a place where everybody is as hungry as you are for success will be exhilarating."

Justin Weaver Coach
In his second season with the Blaze, Weaver has become one of the best coaches in the league due to his versatility in being able to coach every aspect of the game. His approach to the game makes him able to reach out, encourage and teach players of all levels from rookies to long time veterans. His knowledge of the game is able to help players consistently learn with each and every play whether it be in practice or during the game. He is a master motivator and knows how to get the most from his players at all times, as well as being able to get them to excel in any type of situation. Weaver is also continuously working on and looking for ways to further advance women's football

What the All Star nomination means to Weaver:

"Its a honor to be recognized with the best coaches and players in the league. I am fortunate to coach very talented players who work hard on their assignment and perfect technique in order to put a good product on the field. The schemes don't win games the players do. The Blaze have always been represented well in All Star competition. Women's Football is growing and it's awesome to be a part of it. Its going to be a blast to compete with other players and coaches from across the division."

Don't miss the IWFL All Star game, which will be played at 9am Central Time this Saturday Morning, July 23rd. The game will be broadcast live from Raleigh, North Carolina on YouTube.

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