It’s the end of an era. The Alexandria Aces are no more.
You’ve got your Prince. You’ve got your Bob Dylan. And, at least where basketball-handling prowess is concerned, you’ve got your Aces.
The 5-12-year-old boys and girls performed for the final time last weekend at halftime during the Minnesota Timberwolves game.
They put their city — and state — on the map thanks to a gig with the Timberwolves in 1991.
In their final year, they travelled a familiar road: big venues.
“It was exciting and sad at the same time,” founder and coach Larry Novotny tells the Alexandria Echo Press. “Exciting that we were able to provide entertainment for so many people for so many years, and they were so appreciative. That really meant a lot to us, but at the same time a little bit sad it’s coming to an end. It really was a good last year. The Alex event was fantastic and just really made for such a great event in our hometown.”
So many kids wanted to be Aces over the years, but Novotny had to limit it to 15. Over the years, more than 250 kids were Aces.
But that was then. This is now: Nobody tried out to be an Ace this year and the team was down to just 10 members.
“The first goal was to hope that their basketball skills improved, but what we found out is their self confidence improved and their ability to set goals and go after them,” Novotny said. “It was just the mountain-top experiences that we wanted to provide for these kids, that was the main thing. To give them some experiences that they’re never going to forget in their lifetime.”