This article first ran in The Daily Iowan on June 14, 2013. It can be found on The Daily Iowan's website, or by following this link: http://www.dailyiowan.com/2013/06/14/Sports/33508.html
Iowa City, Iowa – Ally Disterhoft has a poster that shows her staring up at the 2004-05 Iowa women’s basketball team.
On that poster, left of the 9-year-old Disterhoft, running vertical are the block words “Dream Big” in all capital letters. This is no coincidence: She has dreamed for a while of playing for head coach Lisa Bluder’s squad one day.
And on Tuesday, that dream became a reality when Disterhoft started her first official practice with her new basketball team.
“I grew up in town and came to all of the games, so I’ve known I wanted to play here for a long time,” she said. “This really is a dream come true for me.”
Disterhoft hails from Iowa City West High, where she led her team to three state tournament appearances and the state title in 2012. She averaged 26.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game her senior season, when she was named Miss Iowa Basketball and earned the Iowa Gatorade Player of the Year honor.
“I was never the fastest or the strongest player growing up,” she said. “These awards are just a combination of my hard work. It’s nice to see results in the end.”
Disterhoft led the Women of Troy to a state championship when she was a junior. Shortly after, Hawkeye head coach Bluder called, and offered her a spot on the team.
“She had been on our radar list of players for a long time,” Bluder said. “I think that the sky is the limit for her.”
Bluder notes that sometimes, for freshman athletes, grades or homesickness can occasionally become a problem. But in Disterhoft’s case, she doesn’t see those becoming issues.
Disterhoft maintained a 4.0 grade-point average as a prep athlete and was a class valedictorian. She is currently taking two summer classes at the university, and she was a direct-admit to the Tippie College of Business.
“Obviously, I want to be the best basketball player I can be, but I want to be an even better person,” Disterhoft said.
Current coaches and players have only been able to work with Disterhoft a few times since the start of summer workouts. But that limited time has proven to be helpful as the Iowa City native has adjusted rather well.
“She’s doing awesome,” sophomore Claire Till said. “She is out there competing in every single drill and playing with the same confidence she’s always had.”
Bluder’s Bunch has had one hour-long team practice since the start of the week and several conditioning workouts littered throughout. But Disterhoft has also had many individual workouts this week, helping to improve her shooting and ball-handling skills.
“It’s really just going through practice and seeing what she can show us and then going from there,” Bluder said.
The Hawkeyes still have several months before their first game — and less than a week before the Game Time League begins — but Disterhoft is determined to make an impact, no matter how small it may be.“Whether it’s on the court or from the bench, I’m going to make an impact any way that I can,” she said. “I’m going to give it my all every day.”