Senior Spotlight: Taryn Olivas, Captain of Sapphires

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Claire Kyllonen

Taryn Olivas doubles as an IB Student and Captain of the Sapphires dance team.

by Claire Kyllonen, Staff Writer

Q: How did you get involved in Sapphires?

A: “I tried out for Blue Belles my freshman year, and I made the JV team. I ended up just sticking with it my entire time here. I tried out for captain my sophomore and my junior year, and I did make it my junior year, so I just rolled with it.”

Q: Describe a memorable moment you’ve had as a student involved in Sapphires.

A: “We were at a camp over the summer. One of the instructors told me that I danced genuinely, and she really liked that. She picked me out of a crowd, and it really made me feel good about myself.”

Q: In what ways have your experiences in Sapphires changed you as a person or student athlete?

A: “It’s definitely made me a better leader because I’ve learned to lead by example and that leadership doesn’t specifically mean that you’re just going to tell people what to do, where you go. You have to follow the same rules, and I’ve also learned that one mistake can mean that everybody’s going to follow your mistake. Or they’ll think it’s okay, so you have to punish yourself accordingly. So if I get a demerit, I do actually kick for it like anybody else would so that everyone knows that the same rules apply.” 

Q: If you could go back to the beginning of your involvement in Sapphires, what would you do differently that could be a positive impact on you?

A: “Probably be a little more flexible because I’m kind of a straightforward person, so I would ask a lot of questions so everything would be very perfect the first time around. It might have been better if I’d just let it happen and let people correct me rather than correct myself every five seconds. I have learned that and tried to change it over the course of the four years.”

Q: Who in your organization has been an inspiration or mentor to you?

A: “One of my best friends on the team from last year, she was  a senior. It didn’t really have as much to do with dance as she was a mentor for me in school because she was an IB senior while I was an IB junior, and we just got very close through that. I was glad to have her on my team. She kept my head above water because I get stressed out and anxious really easily. She had me  breather and talk it out, and I’d get it done, get all my work done. Get  all of my duties accomplished for dance. She’d help me to organize myself.”

Q: How has involvement in Sapphires affected or created friendships and relationships?

A: “It’s made a lot of good friendships with the girls. I think my  current team right now is the best I’ve ever had with everyone being comfortable around each other and being nice. It also helped with the friendship with my inspirational friend because I’d seen her before, but I never really knew her as a person until we danced together.”

Q: Describe or explain a time when you wanted to give up but didn’t. What changed your mind?

A: “The second time I tried out for Blue Belles and I didn’t make it, I was ready to quit. I didn’t because some of the Blue Belle leaders who had taught my class previously told me that it didn’t matter and I had to keep trying. After my last time trying out, it wasn’t as much of a disappointment. I also moved on to being a leader on the team, so I did end up accomplishing something.”

Q: As a senior, what advice or tips do you want to offer to freshmen and other underclassmen who are in Sapphires or who are considering joining Sapphires?

A: “I advise them to try their best and definitely don’t be completely disappointed if you don’t make the [Blue Belles] team because we [Sapphires] are still considered the best JV team. We work just as hard as the Blue Belles, and we often times look just about as good as they do. We are taught by Blue Belles, so it’s a good experience. Especially if they plan on trying to make Blue Belles afterward. It’s [Sapphires] less of a commitment. It’s been good for me with IB because I don’t have to be at practice early in the morning. It’s a good experience for anybody who wants to just have extra dance or if they want to make Blue Belles, but they know they’re not ready for it. If they can make the Sapphires, they will be more prepared.”

Q: Explain how your attitude while you’re engaged in Sapphires is different from your attitude when you’re not.

A: “I’m different where I let everything go, and I let my  passion for just dancing show through instead of being my normal, analytical trying-to-get-through-school persona. Over the years, I’ve gotten better about having an attitude of just letting go. In the beginning, it was definitely the same as school where I tried to perfect everything I do, and by this time, I let go of my perfectionism that I have in the classroom, and let my style show through, which actually makes for a better dancer than being completely technical.”

Q: How do you balance your studies and friendships AND Sapphires?

A: “That’s a trick because IB is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life, and with all of the homework and things I do, I really don’t get out of the house much. I just fit in all my dance things by reorganizing when I’m going to do homework. When Saturday becomes an obligatory dance practice, I just do my best to write everything down, so I don’t forget to do things. It’s become a harder challenge because of having to make sure I know things so that the other girls know things. I just try my best to stay organized.”

Q: What do you do for fun or to relax when not in Sapphires?

A: “That would probably be either writing or even exercising because dance is  a totally different form of exercise that is unnatural. It’s difficult, so working out in other ways is a bit more relaxing sometimes. I would write to calm down and relax. And of course there are video games, too.”