Meet Student Affairs: Five questions with Ally Spafford 

MizzouRec fitness coordinator shares her journey to Mizzou and her insights into wellness.

Ally Spafford
Exercise is a great way to enhance social connections, says MizzouRec fitness coordinator Ally Spafford. Sam O’Keefe/University of Missouri

From the desk of Bill Stackman, vice chancellor for student affairs.  

Physical activity has always been a way of life for Ally Spafford, who joined the MizzouRec team in August 2021. Born and raised in Southern California, she received a scholarship to play Division I collegiate soccer at Old Dominion University before transferring to Texas Christian University to complete a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology. She later earned her master’s in exercise science from Texas A&M.

Let’s get to know Ally!

Bill Stackman: Tell me about yourself. 
Ally Spafford: I briefly coached women’s soccer at the NCAA DII level at Daemen College in Buffalo, New York. It was here, while working under a phenomenal mentor and accomplished coach, that I discovered my values and self-confidence, honed my leadership style, and truly understood the philosophy that life happens through you, not to you.

While coaching, I completed a second master’s in leadership and innovation and continued to work part-time jobs in fitness at companies such as Orangetheory, F45, and private sports performance gyms.

My love for teaching and personal development has materialized in the title of fitness coordinator, where I get to connect and grow with my students and the Mizzou community every day through all the different and fun modes of physical activity life has to offer.

BS: Why is fitness important? 
AS: Most of us have heard of the obvious physical benefits such as prevention and decreased risk of chronic diseases; maintenance of key health biomarkers such as weight, heart rate and blood pressure; and increased strength and flexibility therefore decreasing chances of injury and increasing quality of life.

However, exercise also directly contributes to many other components of our lives that are harder to see. A short list includes enhanced sleep quality, increased cognitive functioning, increased energy and mood, increased mental health and well-being, decreased stress and anxiety, and increased confidence in our abilities.

Lastly, exercise is a great way to enhance social connections through group or community workouts.

BS: Speaking of fitness, do you have any favorite physical activities? 
AS: Hard to choose, but my favorites are hiking, yoga, soccer, surfing and snowboarding!

BS: What would you say to a student (or staff member) who hasn’t visited MizzouRec yet? 
AS: I would encourage new folks to take advantage of all the unique services we have to offer. You might find your passion for movement in a form you don’t even know about yet. From rock climbing to quidditch, dancing, lifting, bass fishing and paddleboard yoga, there is something for everyone at MizzouRec. Find your own form of joyful movement.

BS: What advice do you have for students who want to be successful in college? 
AS: Lean into every opportunity you come across. Go to that free event on campus (even if you don’t have anyone to go with!) and make intentional connections. Visit your professor or supervisor’s office and get to know them. Life is about our connections with others, and you will get out what you put in.