The Belles, which started in 1974 as the C.L. Stars team, was incorporated in 1978 as a non-profit organization under the name “The Philadelphia Belles” in the state of Pennsylvania. The C.L. Stars, formed in 1974 for spring and summer basketball contests, won over 100 games and seven tournament championship in three years.
The success of the program brought in more athletes from the Philadelphia Catholic League and surrounding suburban leagues. In 1976, the Belles (C.L. Stars) won the first Middle Atlantic AAU championship. In 1979, the Belles won the 15- and 18-under MAA titles and captured the 18-under AAU National Championship in Kansas City, MO.
Over the next 30 years the Belles have won over 4,200 games and countless titles, awards and championships. In the Middle Atlantic Association, the Belles have captured 64 out of 168 age group-level championships (some of which the Belles did not compete in) through 2003. The Belles have dominated play in the Middle Atlantic Association since its inception in 1976. The Belles won 8 of the first 10 championships in the two divisions offered — 18s and 15s. In 1979 the Philadelphia Belles captured the 18-under National Championship in a single elimination format. The year before the Belles finished 5th in the same format.
The expansion of the AAU divisions in 1983 saw an influx of new teams and a scaling back of the Belles program. While the Belles won an MAA age-group championship in ’83, ’85, ’86, two in ’87 and ’88, the Belles program exploded back into prominence with three championships (13, 16, 18) in 1989 and two more (15, 16) in 1990.
In 1991 the AAU expanded to it’s present format – seven divisions. The Philadelphia Belles won four (13, 14, 15) out of seven Middle Atlantic AAU titles, finishing 7th and 9th in the 14 and 15 Nationals. In 1992, the Belles captured four more championships. In 1993 , the Belles qualified six teams for AAU Nationals taking first in the 12, 13 and 18-unders and runner-up in the 14,15, and 16-under Middle Atlantic Association championships out of 150 teams.
The year 1993 proved to be the most successful in the history of the Belles program with the club winning two AAU National Championships (AAU Nationals MVPs Monick Foote 16s, and Kristen Clement 13s), a first for any Eastern US team or MAA club. The last time a Belles team captured a championship was 1979, a gap of 13 years. The Belles 16s also laid claim to the famed “Triple Crown” of girls basketball with additional championships at the Boo Williams Spring Invitational and the US Junior Nationals Championship in Washington, DC.
In 1989, the Belles won the first Boo Williams Spring Invitational tournament championship in Hampton, Virginia behind the efforts of Dawn Staley (Virginia) and Val Whiting (Stanford). The 1993 16-under team featured MVP Monick Foote of Wilmington, DE.16s. After two consecutive 3rd place finishes, the Belles 16s won their first U.S. Junior Nationals in Washington, D.C. behind Monick Foote’s MVP performance. Each of our age groups from 13 up to 18 won championships last year in various regionals and national competitions. Each of our age groups from 13 up to 18 won championships last year in various regionals and national competitions.
In 1994 the Belles finished as the AAU National runner-up in the 13s and 14s. The Belles captured four more Middle Atlantic Association Championships.
In 1995 the Belles had 12 age group teams participating in AAU girls basketball and the U.S. Junior
Nationals Championship Tournaments. The Philadelphia Belles 15-under team started the year with the Boo Williams Invitational 15-under Championship. The Belles 15s traveled to Las Vegas for the US Junior Nationals and came away with their second championship in their bid for the “Triple Crown.” The Belles 15s fell short at the AAU National Championship, finishing 3rd after losing by one point in overtime.
The Belles 14s, runner-up in ’94, had a poor bracket draw and ended up losing two games to teams that made it to the finals. The Belles 12s and 13s made it out of their pools, respectively in Oklahoma City, OK and Amarillo, TX . The Belles 16s did not make it out of pool in Dallas, TX.. In 1996 the Belles fielded 14 teams in AAU, USJN and EGBA competition.
In 1997 the Belles again had a spectacular season winning the USJN 17-U Nationals Championship in Washington, DC and followed up in 1998 with the best year since 1993, taking the USJN 14 and 15 crowns in Washington, DC and the 14 and 17 titles in Las Vegas.
In 1997 the AAU expanded to the present nine age groups. The best finish for any Middle Atlantic AAU program was 1998 when the Phila. Belles captured 6 MAA championships in one year. The year also saw the Belles Select win the Hautes deSeine Championship in Paris, France.
The next year, 1999 was a rebuilding year with only two MAA Championships (16s and 11s) while also winning the USJN 15-under in Washington, DC and the 17-under title in Las Vegas. The program bounced back again in 2000 winning four Middle Atlantic Championships (17/15/14/12) while competing in the USJN and AAU tournaments. The cycle of down years continued in 2001 with the Belles taking only two MAA titles (14 and 15). MAA history was made in 2001 with the Belles taking the top two spots in the 14-under. No program prior has ever had their two teams place 1-2 in MAA competition. The Belles Select team captured their first Reze International Cadette Tournament in Reze, France.
For 2002, the Belles continued to dominate with MAA championships (15/14/13) but the best effort was in the USJN Championships as four Belles age group teams won titles in Washington, DC (16/15) and New Haven, CT (13/11).
The 2003 season started off with the Belles Select team taking the 15th annual Reze, France. In the MAA the Belles took over the older divisions of the MAA with championships in the 18, 16, 15 and 14. There was no Belles 17u team. The 16-under MAAs also saw the second 1-2 finish again in MAA history, a repeat of the 14s in 2001. The undermanned and unfavored Belles 16-under team captured the program’s fourth AAU championship winning the crown in Coca Beach, FL. The Belles 14-under, one week late almost pulled off a second AAU title finishing second in Clarksville, TN. This same team responded with a gutty USJN 14-under Championship in Washington, DC.
The Belles is the only Delaware Valley entrant in the spring Boo Williams Invitational and the summer U.S. Junior Nationals. The Club has yearly, open spring tryouts for 12 age-group national travel teams from grade 5 through grade 12. The Belles have complied over 4,200 victories and over 300 championships in 30 years of local, regional, national and international competition.