Ally VanTimmeren of Jenison, Michigan, is no stranger to success on and off the basketball court. Anyone who might walk into a gym where the Jenison Wildcats are playing would immediately recognize VanTimmeren’s work ethic, on-court grit, and natural basketball ability; Ally averaged over 20 points and 10 rebounds for the 2019-2020 season. What isn’t immediately noticeable when watching the 6 foot 2 inch basketball star play is her dedication to her studies and her commitment to challenging her dyslexia. When she was diagnosed with dyslexia in third grade, she did not shy away from her schoolwork, but “look[s] at it as something that challenges me every day at school. I have to work with it. In the classroom, I had to work twice as hard at everything. That helped me in basketball because I already had that work ethic instilled in myself. Basketball became easier for me.”

VanTimmeren will continue her basketball career at Boston College in the coming fall, eager to challenge herself on a bigger court, and in bigger classrooms too. Ally’s dad, who happens to be her coach and a special needs teacher at Jenison High, worries that most students with any kind of learning challenge are told “‘college is a challenge,’ and that, ‘I’m not sure if that’s going to be a fit for you.’ I tell the students Ally’s story because I think it’s an important one to know. Hopefully, they see that if they really put in the work and adapt, they can find their niche and passion and be successful.”

Ally serves as a role model for younger students both on and off the court, hoping that her success can teach others how going after a challenge head on can be rewarding, even if some people tell you that your goals aren’t realistic. To keep up with the Boston College Eagles basketball team that Ally joined in fall 2021, click here.