The student news site of La Salle Catholic College Preparatory.

The La Salle Falconer

The student news site of La Salle Catholic College Preparatory.

The La Salle Falconer

The student news site of La Salle Catholic College Preparatory.

The La Salle Falconer

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter!
* indicates required

Next Level Seniors: Olivia Hungerford Leaps Into a New Beginning at the University of Oregon

John Pham
“Dance has definitely taught me to have a strong work ethic and a lot of dedication,” Hungerford said. “I feel like you can’t get anywhere unless you’re willing to put in the work.”

Although senior Olivia Hungerford originally started dancing simply because her mom signed her up for it, dance has become one of her biggest passions.

“At first I really liked the costumes and hair and makeup, I thought that was really fun,” she said. “And that’s something I still like, but I also just enjoyed the technique [and] getting to perfect it … I thought that was really satisfying to see the progress over the years.”

Hungerford will be taking her dance career even further, as she has committed to four more years of dancing on the University of Oregon’s Division I dance team. In doing so, she joins The Falconer’s Next Level Senior series, which showcases the select group of seniors who have committed to playing a sport at the collegiate level. 

Being able to continue dance is something that means a lot to Hungerford. “I’m so excited because it was never guaranteed so I was so excited for that opportunity, especially at such an amazing school that I have always wanted to go to,” she said. 

Hungerford started dancing when she was three years old in the style of ballet at a studio in Milwaukee before moving to her current studio, Studio One Dance Academy. In fourth grade she started doing jazz and added more styles in fifth grade after she started to do dance at the competitive level. “I actually started competing because my teacher invited me to be on the competitive team because she thought I’d be a good fit, and from then on I choose to keep doing it,” Hungerford said. 

The transition from doing dance purely for fun to competing against other people wasn’t that big of a difference at first, but once she started adding more routines and began performing she got much more serious about dance.

Hungerford devotes several hours a week to perfecting her craft, with some type of practice every day. She doesn’t have formal training on Mondays, Fridays, or Sundays, so she will either do an at-home workout or go to the gym. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Hungerford is at the studio from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., along with shorter two-hour practices on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Despite La Salle offering a dance team her freshman and sophomore year, this busy schedule did not allow her to join as she had too much on her plate. 

Hungerford at age five in her costume ready for her first dance recital. (Photo curtsey of Olivia Hungerford)

Hungerford wasn’t set on continuing dance in college until the beginning of her senior year. “I started going to clinics junior year, but I kind of thought, ‘oh, it’s just something fun to do,’” she said. “And then I started realizing I don’t want to stop dance after high school.”

Although the University of Oregon was always one of her top options, due to both the strong dance team and the familiarity from her family’s fandom of the school, she also considered the University of Washington, Gonzaga University, and University of Colorado Boulder, with dance being “a huge factor” in what schools were her top choices. 

However, Oregon remained her top choice throughout this process, as she participated in several clinics there over the years and felt that their program “had the best vibe” compared to her other options. 

So it was here that she formally auditioned for a spot. 

“I feel like the team was all super close and supportive,” she said. “[And] the coaches were super friendly and supportive and easy to communicate with especially during the audition process.”  

The tryouts took place in several rounds, the first of which was an open tryout in which anyone could participate, and a second in which only a select few were chosen to continue. 

Hungerford was one of 10 freshmen to join the team. 

The duties of the dance team include participating in competitions including the UDA Nationals, the USA National, and cheering at a variety of sports such as hockey games and other community events.

“I’m looking forward to all of it,” Hungerford said. “I think nationals will be super cool because I’ve always looked up to the dancers who go to those so it will be crazy to actually be there and be a part of it, but I’m also super excited for the cheering [at] hockey games.”

Hungerford will be majoring in dance, and while she has not cemented her minor choice yet, it will most likely be business.

She chose dance as her major because at first she was unsure if she would make the team, so she wanted to stay involved in it. Business emerged as a strong candidate for her minor choice because “I think that’ll be helpful in a lot of aspects of my life,” Hungerford said. 

A worry she has about starting this new chapter in life is living on her own. “I’ve always lived with my parents and they’ve always helped me,” she said. But despite this, Hungerford is “super excited also to have that independence and to experience making all of my own decisions.”

Being without her parents will also serve as a challenge because they have been extremely supportive of her dance journey, with both parents having confidence in her choice to pursue dance in college. Her mom especially has been committed to Hungerford’s success. This has included driving her to Eugene for all the clinics, even though Hungerford acknowledged it was a huge time commitment. 

After college, Hungerford hopes to continue dancing, with dancing for a professional sports team being a career she has strongly considered, and later in life owning a studio of her own.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

We'd love to hear your thoughts! Let us know what you think about this story by submitting a comment below. We welcome respectful comments that engage in conversations.

Comments are moderated, and won't appear until they are approved. An email address is required, but won't be publicly displayed. The Falconer's complete comment policy can be viewed on our policies page.
All The La Salle Falconer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *