Meet Courtney Ball, Business

An Equestrian Introduction

I was born and raised in Scottsdale, Arizona and have been riding horses since I was six — they’ve been in my life forever. When it came time to look for colleges, I knew I wanted to be at a school where I could pursue a career in the equestrian field. William Woods was at the top of the list because it’s one of the only schools that does Saddle Seat in the country. And Gayle Lampe teaches here. She is a legend in the industry and judged some of the horse shows I competed in when I was younger.

My parents and I came out to Missouri because they said they wouldn’t send me halfway across the country without looking at the school first. The minute we got on campus, I knew I could see myself here. I like that you know everyone on campus. My classes are all filled with familiar faces and the teachers know who I am.

Ball (left) after a successful horse show


Combining Business and Equestrian

Before I even started looking at colleges, my parents told me that I should get a business degree. I responded that I wanted to do something with horses instead, but my dad insisted that I still major in business. And he was right.

When we came to visit, we talked to David Forster, an associate professor of Business and Economics. He convinced me that business can be used anywhere and it would be helpful for my career. I decided to double major in Equestrian Studies and Business (with a marketing concentration), which I’ve learned is a common combination here.

Creating a business plan during a marketing class

Hopefully, by coming to William Woods, I’ll be able to understand the business side of the equestrian world. With horses, you need to learn how to run a business and how to manage your money. Horses are very expensive and you need to make decisions that are financially smart. I’ve seen firsthand where trainers don’t have a business background and haven’t been able to manage their money very well.


Staying Busy on Campus

Freshman year was hard because I moved halfway across the country. It was nerve-wracking because I was far away from home, plus I didn’t know how to deal with the Missouri humidity. But, at the same time, the small campus made it easy to make friends and forget being homesick.

There are lots of different communities across campus. I joined a sorority (Alpha Chi Omega) and had 50 sisters the day I got here. There’s the horse community. And each major has its own community. It was nice to be welcomed in these groups. And it’s easy to do because of how tight-knit everyone is. My friends at big schools are like “oh yeah, I know like two other people.” I know almost everyone on campus and it’s easy to make friends.

Ball (center) with her Alpha Chi Omega sisters

If you want to meet other people, it’s also important to get involved with clubs and organizations. I’m a member of Campus Activities Board (CAB), Rotaract, Saddle Seat club, and the National Society of Leadership and Success.

Even though the campus is small, there are so many things to do — during the week and on weekends. Most are free too! There are a lot of LEAD events. Last year, I attended a clinic by George Morris, a world-famous Olympic trainer. The business department invites a lot of alumni back and it’s cool to see how this small school can land you a job in a big company. Or they’ll bring professionals in the field to come and talk about their careers. I just went to a talk by a marketing person at well-known food service company. She explained things like her career path, how to do an interview, what skills you need, etc. The way that she presented the marketing field made me want to do it even more.

I’m also planning on going to Tokyo next year with Woods Around the World. We’re only going for a short time, so I don’t have to commit to studying abroad for an entire semester. It makes it so easy and affordable.

It’s nice that even though William Woods is such a small campus, it can offer so many great opportunities for its students.


Business Classes at William Woods

When I first started at William Woods, I thought business classes were going to be insane and so hard to understand. But the way that the professors present the information to us helps students understand it and how we’ll be able to use in the future.

Getting advice from Professor Forster

The classes are also good because they’re small and you can work with the professors one-on-one. I have friends at big schools who have 400 people in their marketing classes. I have 15. My professors know who I am and it’s easy to get help when I need it. They want to help you succeed.

I took Principles of Marketing with Professor Forster last semester and it’s one of my favorite classes. It’s fun trying to figure out marketing problems, how to fix things, how to present your company in a good light, and how to make money. He gives us real-life scenarios too, which helps us understand.

Another class I like is Entrepreneurship. We had to design our own company and create a business plan. I focused on an Italian restaurant, thinking about location, who I would need to hire, who my competition would be, and what I needed to make it run properly and cost efficiently. Part of the plan was due every week or two and at the end of the class we presented our business and answered questions about it. This project was based on real life and showed me what I’ll need to do if I want to start my own business one day. And how much work it will take!

Collaborating with another Business student

The information I’m learning in my Business classes is also helpful in my Equestrian classes. For example, I just took Stable Management, which teaches everything about managing a barn. As a final project, we had to plan our own stable (how expensive is it going to be each month, how much debt will we incur, how much we’ll earn, taxes, etc.). It has been eye-opening and the business classes definitely helped.

Business is a demanding major because you have to take so many classes. But, at the same time, these classes teach you information that you’re going to use for any career and in your personal life.


The Daily Student Schedule

My classes are usually equally split between Equestrian and Business. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are my business days, while Tuesday and Thursday are more of my horse days. I have riding classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I figured that if I’m going to the barn anyway, I might as well make it a barn day.

I go to my classes and then, since I live at the Alpha Chi Omega house, I’m always there doing homework, working with my sisters, and working on projects. A lot of the girls in the house are also in my classes, so we work on group projects together. I usually go to different meetings at lunch and in the afternoon. Plus, there is always stuff going on at the sorority, like philanthropy weeks or volunteering.

If I’m not in the sorority house, I’m probably in the library studying, doing homework, or typing essays. Or getting a cup of coffee and chilling in the Owl’s Nest.

Working in the William Woods Think Tank

I also spend a lot of time at the Think Tank, a lounge for business students in the Burton Business & Economics Building. There are big computer screens that you can hook up to your laptop and tables that are perfect for group work. I go in there a lot with other students and work on projects together. Professors even come in to check on you and offer advice.


MBA in 5

I’m thinking about staying at William Woods for an extra year. The university offers a program called MBA in 5, where you take masters-level business classes your senior year and an extra fifth year, then graduate with your bachelor’s degree after four years and MBA after five. Nowadays, you need your MBA for a lot of things and it will help prepare me for the real world. I think it would be great to get it here, where I already have a built-in community. It would be better than starting my MBA at a large university, sitting in a room with 400 people and not knowing my professor.


Career Choices

At first, I was sure that I wanted to be a horse trainer. But then last summer I did an internship in Kentucky at one of the top Saddle Seat barns in the country. The type of work was eye-opening for me and I realized I like the marketing side of things so much more. As of right now, I think I’d like to work on marketing and promoting horses and the Saddle Seat industry.

A fun summer Marketing internship

This summer, I’m trying out a non-equestrian job and interning for the marketing person at Pinspiration (a craft-based art studio) back home in Arizona. I help take pictures and set up displays to post on our social media accounts. It has been so much fun being able to decide what pictures will help get people to come into the store and show what we offer in a new and refreshing way.


Dad Was Right

Looking back now, I’m glad my dad encouraged me to also major in Business. Now I have practical skills and tools to help me in my career. Understanding personal finance and accounting is going to be very beneficial. Even if I work in a barn, I’m going to know how to market myself, the barn, and the horses.

Because of this experience, I understand the business side of the equestrian industry more — which is important knowledge to have.



Learn more about the Business undergraduate programs at William Woods