ROCHESTER, Minn. — Maddox Fleming has looked at the list every day for four years.
He can't avoid it; everywhere the 16-year-old turns it's staring back at him.
"It's literally taped to the wall in my bedroom, the ceiling, in my shooting room, it's been the background on my phone for, like, four years," Fleming said.
He can put a check mark next to some big bold letters on that list now: USNTDP.
Fleming, the former Rochester Mayo boys hockey standout who played this school year at Shattuck-St. Mary's in Faribault, learned Sunday that he has earned a spot on the U.S. National Team Development Program U17 team roster for the 2020-21 season.
"They called Sunday, I was just sitting at home with my parents, and said 'we'd like to offer you a spot,'" Fleming said Wednesday, just minutes after USA Hockey made the announcement official. "They sent me the contract and told me to think about it. I didn't need to; I signed it and sent it back that night."
The National Team Development Program is based in Plymouth, Mich., and is administered by USA Hockey. Every year it selects the top 22-24 players from the U.S. in two age groups (Under-17 and Under-18) to train and develop against the other top players in the country. The NTDP plays in the USHL, the top junior hockey league in the U.S.
Fleming will be the second Rochester native to play for the Program, joining Mark Stuart (2000-02), who went on to play three seasons at Division I Colorado College, followed by 12 seasons in the NHL.
Among the many big names to have played for the Program are Phil Kessel, Patrick Kane, Jack Hughes, Auston Matthews and Jack Eichel.
"This has been a super huge goal of mine," Fleming said. "I want to be the best player in the world, and the greatest American players in the NHL have all gone through (the Program). I want to be like those guys.
"It's the best thing for me and my development. It's a great place, just look at the players who've come out of there."
The news was a spirit-lifter for Fleming, who was still digesting the abrupt end to his sophomore season at Shattuck. Like all other sports teams and organizations, the Sabres' season was cut short due to concerns over the coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19.
Fleming, who had 38 assists and 52 points in 42 games in 2019-20, and his teammates at Shattuck expected to be preparing this week for the USA Hockey national championships, scheduled for the first week of April in Rochester, Mich. Instead, the Sabres players have scattered across the country, back to their homes to finish the rest of their coursework online and to wonder what might have been.
"Our Prep Team lost three games all of last year, then lost in the semifinals at nationals," Fleming said. "All of the guys from that team got together over the summer and 'we're going to win this next year.' You spend eight months thinking about nationals and preparing for them, focusing on them. I'm sad for them that we didn't get a chance."
Despite the sudden stop his sophomore season, Fleming said Shattuck prepared him well for what's to come next season and into the future.
"It's helped me so much," he said. "You don't even realize how special (Shattuck) is until it's over. Everything there is special. ... It's like going to college, you go to classes and you go to the rink, then play on weekends.
"Most 15-year-olds have their parents around to help, but (at Shattuck) you make sure you're eating and drinking the right things, you get yourself ready for road trips. It teaches you how to be responsible for yourself."
Fleming said, if possible, the players selected to the U17 team will head to Michigan in June to meet the coaching staff and get acquainted with the facilities. Then he's scheduled to head there for good the last week of August.
"I'm just excited for the opportunity to get better every day," he said. "Playing with the best 20 kids in the whole country, going against them every day in practice, being in the weight room together and just getting better together. I'm hoping I can rise to the top of that group."