This year, ACE celebrated its 20th anniversary at the 2019 Cheerleading Worlds. Alabama Cheer Elite (more commonly known as ACE), was founded in 1999 when Happy Hooper pitched an idea for a competitive cheerleading program to Paige Black and Susan Schwartz. Following a very successful first season, ACE tripled their competitive team lineup and added all age ranges. Hooper, Black, and Schwartz also added another partner, Susan Blankenship, and moved into a former basketball gymnasium. ACE remained in that gym until 2017, when they moved into a brand new training facility. This represented the culmination of decades of dedication and hard work by the owners, staff, and athletes who call ACE their home.
Although ACE has won many trophies and banners, Hooper says that his biggest accomplishment in his 20 years of ACE has been providing a cheer home to so many young people. The foundation of ACE has always been to allow athletes to have a place to grow, learn, and share their love for all-star cheerleading. To celebrate all their favorite memories of the gym, current and past athletes came together to throw a surprise 20th anniversary party where they could relive their years at ACE. “It was so magical, so much love,” said Hooper, “I believe I cried for about four hours that night.”
In another special celebration for their 20th anniversary, ACE celebrated with a new Varsity All Star Fashion uniform for their Large Coed Level 5 team, the Warriors. ACE has always been trend setters in the all star cheerleading community- their gym theme and red, black, white, and gold color scheme are iconic. Hooper knew this uniform had to be something unique to celebrate their platinum anniversary. ACE’s new uniform combines the perfect amount of “sport and sparkle.” Clean sharp lines throughout the design, encrusted with Swarovski® crystals compliment the team’s athleticism and choreography.
To bring their vision to life, Hooper and the ACE team worked exclusively with the Varsity All Star Fashion design team. Hooper’s vision for the uniform was to incorporate the Warrior’s theme, “Girl on Fire,” in every design element. He also wanted to “show that you can be fashion forward and exciting, while wearing a full length, athletic option.” The Varsity All Star Fashion team got to work creating a fiery design for Warriors to debut on the Worlds stage. To give the girls’ uniform extra sparkle, an ombré effect of colored crystals in ACE’s color scheme was used throughout the whole design. The Varsity Design Team strategically created a neckline to feature a rhinestone motif that give the illusion of a necklace. Hooper said that this necklace was his favorite part of the new uniform, “I love the way it looks like a piece of jewelry. I feel it adds a powerful, feminine touch to a very athletic design.” The bodysuit design was complete with a white mesh racer-back, with a net elastic inset to emphasize the girls’ athleticism.
Warriors’ new uniforms lit a spark in the team as they took the stage at the 2019 Cheerleading World Championships. The athletes were “beaming with pride in their design and sparkling from head to toe from their crystals,” Hooper said. The Warriors ended with an impressive fourth place finish in one of the most competitive divisions at the competition.
Hooper hopes that the next 20 years bring even more happiness to all who walk through ACE’s doors. When asked about his vision for the years to come, Hooper’s response was simple and powerful. “Love and celebration. Love for all types of cheerleading, and celebration of learning to become a better person and athlete.”