As a Hawkeye women’s basketball player, direct admit to the Tippie College of Business, finance and accounting major, and an Academic All-American, it’s clear that Ally Disterhoft doesn’t shy away from a challenge.
“I don’t know what I’d do with spare time if I had it,” she says. “I feel like I’d go crazy or something.”
Her driven nature comes from growing up in a competitive environment. Her mother played basketball and softball for Drake University, playing with the same women who coach Ally today, and she inspired Ally to be a student athlete in college.
“It was something my mom and I really bonded over,” said Ally.
Ally started playing basketball when she was in fourth grade, and made history as the girl looking at the court in Carver and dreaming of becoming a college basketball player on the “Dream Big” poster for the Iowa Women’s Basketball team in 2004.
She worked her way up the ranks, playing part-time on her varsity basketball team during her freshman year of high school. By her senior year, she was receiving offers from different colleges to play basketball for them, but she waited for the call from the University of Iowa.
“In the back of my mind, I think I always knew I wanted to be a Hawkeye.”
As an Iowa City native, Ally wanted a place where her family could easily watch her play as well as the athletic experience that comes with playing at a Division I school.
“I trusted the coaches. I met a lot of the girls on the team. I felt really comfortable with them,” she said.
Ally also thought the University of Iowa had a great balance of athletics with academics that she couldn’t find anywhere else. That’s how she found the Tippie College of Business.
“I’ve always recognized that athletics are very important. I was recruited here for a reason,” Ally said. “But I’m here to have a great education because at the end of the day, you’re going to hang up the jersey.”
Ally knew she was in good hands at Tippie, so she applied for direct admission. She was interested in business, but wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted to study within the college.
She discovered a natural interest in accounting and finance after taking a class in high school. And like her mother imparted her knowledge of basketball, her father, Jeff Disterhoft, MBA03, gave her insight into the banking world. Jeff is president and CEO of the University of Iowa Community Credit Union.
“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” she jokes.
Ally had a firsthand glimpse of what it’s like to work with numbers in a professional setting by visiting her dad’s office as a kid on Bring Your Child to Work days.
When Ally came to Tippie as a direct admit, she enrolled in all the intro business classes, but it was still the accounting and finance classes that most resonated with her.
“I really wanted to challenge myself,” Ally said. “I found that the courses that pushed me the most and the classes I was most interested in were definitely my finance and accounting classes.”
While Ally spends most of her time between basketball and her studies, she says she rarely mixes the two. When she’s at a game, she concentrates on the court, and in her classes, she is focused on the task at hand.
In between practices, games, and studying, Ally has found time to do other extracurriculars, from the Hawkinson Institute (Tippie’s undergraduate investment banking program) to Athletes in Action, to a short stint in the University of Iowa Student Government.
“It definitely takes great time-management skills,” Ally said. “I sometimes have to sacrifice having a social life because sometimes it doesn’t feel like there are enough hours in the day.”
Because of her competitive nature, Ally enjoys the challenge of balancing her full academic plate, being a student athlete, participating in all the student orgs she can, and meeting new people on campus.
She was also awarded the 2015-16 Academic All-America of the Year honors. She is the youngest athlete to have received this honor and has the highest GPA of all the Academic All-Americans.
“I put in a ton of work and to see that rewarded was a really good feeling,” she said.
On top of it all, Ally took an internship in Chicago with PwC over the summer as an assurance intern. She worked closely with her co-workers on core insurance practice and pharmaceutical and health care practices. She wasn’t allowed to leave her basketball practices behind while in Chicago— Ally had full days, working an 8-to-5 then going straight to the gym to keep up with her basketball training schedule.
Her internship experience left her feeling excited for a professional career in finance after graduation, which she says will make hanging up the jersey at the end of her basketball career a little easier. While she still has time to choose whether or not to go pro, Ally said nothing can really compare to college basketball.
“You have people playing together because they love the sport. It’s that comradery that you have with the team,” said Ally.
Next summer Ally will work at Barclays investment bank in New York City as an analyst, and she will graduate in December 2017. After that she still plans on keeping basketball in her life, playing in local community teams, and telling everyone about her glory days at the University of Iowa “like old people do.”