In an interview with former UCLA two-sport athlete Ally Courtnall, we explored the journey she's taken through her athletic career and into a life after sports. It's something we all face- the eventual decision to leave sports behind and start a new chapter. Luckily for Ally, her future is bright and full of promise. She currently travels between LA and Minneapolis, modeling for SLU agency and living with long-time boyfriend Eric Kendricks of the Vikings. Ally is a gorgeous, talented, driven young woman who represents so many things that we as female athletes strive to be. Read on to learn a few things about her childhood, her incredible athletic career, and where she is now. (Trust me, you don't want to miss this one.)
SC: Ally, tell us a little bit about your family history with sports and your childhood experience as a young athlete.
AC: I grew up in an extremely athletic and competitive family. My dad played in the NHL for 16 years and my uncle played for 17 years. Ever since I could remember I was going to hockey games and was always surrounded by extremely competitive people. That was definitely what triggered my interest in sports. My summers were always filled with travel teams and sports camps; I wanted to do everything that was active. I would say it started getting really serious at age 13 when I had to fly from the island of Victoria to Vancouver every weekend to play on a competitive travel team for soccer.
SC: What was it like playing two sports at a Division I school?
AC: Playing two sports at UCLA was a huge challenge, but I wouldn’t have changed my college experience for anything. I was lucky enough to have coaches that were very supportive of my decision to do multiple sports so balancing both schedules was made possible. It was definitely tough at times running from one practice to another, but it pushed me to be a better athlete. The best part was that I grew an even bigger family having amazing teammates from both sports. Doing both made me who I am today. It mentally and physically brought my game and performance to a whole new level.
SC: What is your most memorable sports accomplishment?
AC: Within the two sports, there are two different major accomplishments I can think of that are worth sharing. After quitting the soccer team my sophomore year, I decided to rejoin for my junior year season. I never expected that I would feel the desire to play again. All the games throughout the season were memorable and we created a bond as a team that I will never forget. That bond led us to a National Championship, which is an accomplishment that I am extremely proud of.
Then, going into my senior year, I decided to take on a new challenge in track: the 800. The track coaches thought I was insane; girls train for this event their whole lives, but I had this feeling inside me that it was my event. So I trained my butt off getting my mileage up to get ready for track workouts for the 800. I started out the year with a very intense goal to run a 2:05. At the Pac12 Championships I ran a 2:05, which made me 7th all time at UCLA. This was something I did on my own- I had no teammates to help me. I couldn’t believe I did it and it was an amazing feeling to prove everyone wrong. I didn’t even win the race, but the personal accomplishment in and of itself trumped everything going on around me.
SC: Describe a typical week in your life now.
AC: During some busy weeks, I am attending castings for jobs or I am working crazy days shooting for really cool companies like Adidas or Asics. Since I am in Minneapolis during the NFL season, I have to travel a lot for work, which is awesome but also very exhausting. I try to stay on top of keeping my book current which means working with new photographers, makeup and hair artists, and stylists for test shoots.
Sunday’s are always reserved for Vikings Football! Whether it’s going to the brand new US Bank Stadium to cheer on my boyfriend Eric, or going to a friends house with some of the other WAGS to watch the game, I am always cheering for him wherever I am.
SC: Is there anything in particular that you miss about playing sports?
AC: I do miss Friday night games. I miss warming up to the playlists we put together and working with a group of people to take down another team. I definitely miss that team atmosphere! I always ask myselfwhere I would be and how I would be doing now if I still played sports, but I am very happy with the path I am on right now and I think it was time for me to try something new. Sports will always be involved in my life in some way, but for now, I do not think I will be returning to competitive sports. My body agrees with me!
SC: How do you continue to feed your competitive side?
I feed my competitive side with workout classes. My days now still include lots of working out! I am a work out fiend. I don’t know why but challenging myself with new exercises and trying to get really good at them brings me satisfaction. I love core power yoga, Pilates, boxing, swimming, barre classes, and running! I love trying new workouts so I am not always doing the same thing.
If you’re like me and like to try new workouts a lot, try the app Class Pass. It’s a membership where you can workout at different studios every week. Greatest app ever!
My work is also competitive. I feel great when I stand out at a casting or on set. The desire to be successful at my job is still fueled by that same desire to be successful on the field or on the track.
SC: What is your best style tip?
AC: My main style tip is that simple is the way to go! You will usually find me with my hair in a bun or ponytail. I like to wear all black or all grey. Leggings (lululemon, alo, splits 59 are my favorites) with a simple/graphic tee and a super soft sweater of some sort. Or I will just wear all workout clothes with a pair of adidas originals or nikes.
A huge THANK YOU to Ally for spending so much time with us! She's a busy lady with a lot going on. Make sure you're following her on Instagram. She is easily one of my favorite follows.