The Solo Senior

Senior Natalie O’Hara reflects on her past 4 years on the Dowling Catholic Dance Team.


Lily Finstad

The dance team huddles together to take a picture with weatherman Ed Wilson.

Lily Finstad, Staff Writer

As a senior in high school, you’re expected to uphold a certain reputation left behind by the seniors from years before. That role consists of a strong, confident, mature leader willing to prioritize others before themselves.


This year, one student stands out as she fills these shoes all on her own. Natalie O’Hara (12), the only senior on the Dowling Catholic Dance Team this season, talks about her own personal goals and successes.


“Being the only senior is very scary. I always have to be on my feet ready to answer any questions anyone has, and I always have to be ready to change something if we have to,” Natalie said.


O’Hara was forced to quickly adapt to a change in leadership, and she mentioned that it was different going from junior to senior year. For O’Hara, going into a new season with tremendous responsibilities and a huge leadership role was tough to manage.


The team has always had solid senior representation, and this year, that weight fell onto Natalie’s shoulders alone. Luckily, O’Hara has done a fantastic job at the top and will continue to model the qualities of a great leader and captain. With the constant support and encouragement from teammates and coaches, she feels confident in her team and in herself and vows to have a fun season and to make it the best one yet.


“I appreciate everything about the team. They are all so encouraging and understand that it’s hard on me being the only one, they all help out in the best way possible. They are the best group of girls and are so sweet,” Natalie said.


Monday, Tuesday and Fridays, O’Hara leads warm-ups and stretches. After this, the team practices their routine for the following Friday, and depending on the time of year, prepares for their performance at state.


Although the schedule of the Dowling Dance Team may seem hectic at times, Abby O’Hara (11) explained that the juniors are always helping their senior leader. Abby O’Hara, yes there are actually two O’Hara’s on the dance team, both of which provide unconditional support and appreciation for each other even during the hardest moments. Abby O’Hara mentioned that having her sister on the team has been a blessing, and she wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything. Likewise, Natalie felt the same.


“Having Abby on the team has been the best thing ever. She is not only my sister but my best friend. With this year in general, she has been a major help to me,” Natalie said. 


Through hair, makeup, routines, and repetition, the duo has done everything together since the very beginning. From studio dance to hitting the state floor, the sisters have had the rare opportunity to experience all of these memories with each other. Natalie has been a great leader and role model on this team, Abby mentioned. She’s always looked up to her sister, and that their influence on each other has enhanced their dancing skills and has brought them to where they are today.


“Having Natalie on the team is one of the best things ever. Her and I always have such great talks at 6 a.m. on our way to practice. I’ve always danced with Natalie for our competition studio team, and I’ve always looked up to her. She pushes me to be a better dancer but also a better person. I’m thankful to have the experience of dancing with Natalie,” Abby said.


Having a strong senior leader to guide them through the end of their season has been a privilege for the Dowling Catholic Dance Team, and their captain, Natalie O’Hara, will be missed next year, but while they enjoy the last of their season, they promised to make it worth while and to have fun in the process.


“I always encourage them to do good and to just have fun, at the end of the day, it’s always about if you had fun,” Natalie said.