*Winner: Cheerleader of the Year 2010*
Squad: Premier Athletics Senior Pink
High School: Oak Hills
Class Year: Senior
Job: Server at Price Hill Chili
Activities: Key Club, Partners Club, Math Club, German Club, Student Council
College Plans: Eastern Kentucky University
Styling by Stephanie Bischoff at Alverno Salon and Spa
Photos by Shine Photography at Oak Hills High School
Sponsored by Spiritville USA
By Lindsay Kottmann
Ashley Olinger has tried just about everything.
She rattles off the list of sports and activities she’s been involved in, including cheerleading and club soccer since she was little, and everything from taekwondo to violin to Student Council in between.
And this fall, she’ll be on to trying something else, as the first one of five siblings to move away from the area for college. She’ll start in Eastern Kentucky University’s forensics program, one of the oldest and most reputable in the country. (She’s always liked science, she says, even from when she was little and was always playing in the dirt.)
Looking at Olinger’s good grades, active schedule and willingness to help others, you wouldn’t know that her journey to where she is today was paved with misfortune. Her brother, whom she was very close to, died tragically her freshman year, when he was just 22.
It’s the hardest thing Olinger has ever had to endure. But she allowed her memories of him to propel her forward instead of pull her back. She knew that her brother, who often attended her games, would want to see her out on the floor, still cheering and smiling. So she pressed herself to do it.
“He always told me to push for my dreams, and I’ve been taking his advice and not letting anything hold me back,” she says.
Enduring the stress her brother’s death put on her family, Olinger pushed herself to take AP classes and maintain a good GPA. She’s active in student council (which just raised $3,000 for Haiti), Key Club (through which she helps tutor kids each week) as well as Partners Club, Math Club and German Club.
Olinger places the highest value on the relationships she has in her life, from the regulars who come into Price Hill Chili, where she works 30 hours a week, to her teammates and coaches on Premier Athletics’ Senior Pink squad. In fact, it’s not the stunting or gymnastics that’s her favorite part of cheerleading: it’s that bond she has with her team.
Olinger hasn’t decided yet whether she’ll try out in college. She loves cheering for a team, as she did for Oak Hills High School her freshman and sophomore years, but she also loves competing and the feeling of leaving everything behind her for those two minutes and 30 seconds.
And her brother is still encouraging her. “When I go onto the mat, I always picture him front and center,” she says.