Olivia is Open to Opportunity
by Cate Murway
“She was very motivating during both field hockey and track seasons. She was always there for the team and was always encouraging us”, shared teammate Kayla Marie Ruiz, BHS ‘18
Shot put is a sport in track and field athletics in which a spherical weight is thrown, technically ‘put’, from the shoulder for distance. It derives from the ancient Scottish Highland games sport of putting the stone, using an ordinary stone or rock.
Captain Olivia Seher Onal, BHS ‘16 holds the Bristol HS 40’1/2” Shot Put school record. The regulation weight of the solid iron or brass shot used for women’s competition is 4kg [8.8 pounds], thrown from within a 7-foot circle.
Olivia earned first place in the B.A.L. and AA District 1 championship this 2016 T&F spring season and she placed 10th at States in the 2016 PIAA Track & Field AA Championships at Shippensburg University in May.
She and her teammate/ also the co-captain, Jannieree Nicole Davis-Wooten, BHS ’16, both agreed to walk to school extra early to meet by 7:00AM to lift weights. Jannieree earned a 7th place medal in the 400m competition at States for her :58.78 sprint. Obviously their weight training regime and Olivia’s constant improvements in technique have paid off.
Nicole Shipos, USA Weightlifting Sports Performance Coach, is the athletic trainer.
“I really looked up to her”, shared Olivia.
Olivia and ‘J’ proved themselves to be responsible, reliable and in the final analysis, practical as leaders, ready to walk the walk—not just talk the talk.
“ ‘J’ and I were the only seniors. We knew what had to get done and we knew what we needed to do. ‘Jonesy’ just told her she had to come in first in the qualifiers. States was a great experience.”
“How can I get even with her?” Veteran Coach James William “Jimmy” Jones, Jr. laughed, then seriously added, “Olivia is one of the most dedicated and committed athletes. Without her and Jannieree ‘s dedication and leadership, the team couldn’t have done it.” Coach Jones celebrated his 19th year of coaching track & field. “They bought me a front row seat at the Penn Relays, right at the 2nd turn.”
“It’s been a great 4 years together. I’d do it again. We pushed each other,” stated ‘J’.
Jannieree is ranked in the top 1/3 of her BHS class and she earned additional commendations as 2nd team in Field Hockey and Basketball, and B.A.L. FH Player of Year leadership award.
She will join the Warriors, attending East Stroudsburg University along with Olivia who will be competing in the weight throw [indoors] and hammer events [outdoors] too. Olivia also captured the 117’ Discus BHS school record. She and Jannieree were FH and basketball teammates as well.
Coincidentally, Criminal Justice is a possible major for Olivia and Criminology may be the choice for ‘J’.
In grade school, Olivia participated in soccer, basketball, track and Irish dancing at Fitzpatrick School of Irish Dance. There are a plethora of health benefits in dance. It is a most enjoyable way of keeping fit and studies have shown that dancing strengthens core muscles and is more beneficial to the heart than even cycling or swimming. Olivia has always been open to opportunity! She learned from a very young age that hard work and discipline will get you far.
“She can never sit still”, her mom shared. Olivia volunteered as “coat hanger” at the Bristol Fall Classic, coached elementary students in basketball and assisted in Trailblazer ‘Special Olympics’ and the Relay for Life.
R.N. Susan Mary Spingler moved her family from NE Philadelphia to Bristol Borough in 1986. Oftentimes, Olivia’s maternal grandfather David James Spingler, a Father Judge and LaSalle athlete, coached her in the throwing events and he always attended her competitions.
Bristol Borough for her was just the perfect place in which to grow and mature.
“Everybody was always outside and there was always people doing stuff. My cousin, Devon Spingler, BHS ’11 played softball and I was the cool kid because I was with the older kids.”
“I got that sunshine in my pocket, Got that good soul in my feet…”
from one of Olivia’s favorite songs, “Can’t Stop The Feeling” by Justin Timberlake
Olivia’s list of responsible involvements is a hefty one, including VP of Student Council and treasurer of the Senior Class. She attends the monthly School Board meetings, chosen as a delegate by Dr. Thomas Francis Shaffer, Ed. D., Bristol Borough Schools Superintendent/ Secondary Principal, along with Stephen P. Rodas, BHS ’16. She and Steve represent the student body and present reports on current BHS activities.
Olivia [meaning ‘symbol of peace’] participated in the Model U.N., learning about diplomacy, international relations, and the United Nations, researching, public speaking, debating, and writing and she still found time to be involved in the BHS Blood Drive. Last October, she attended the PA School Board Association Leadership Conference at the Hershey Lodge & Convention Center.
Her classes, totaling six credits of college courses, included “Ethics” and “Interpersonal Communications” were held at the BCCC Bristol campus. Olivia also attended the Medical Career Pathways Program where she job-shadowed professionals at Lower Bucks Hospital.
Significant leadership roles can make the difference between a decent College application and a stellar one.
Sports have remained in the forefront for Olivia. She participated in CYO Sports and in her sophomore year, she returned to help the younger athletes throw.
“When you’re 8 and 10, you never really know what you’re doing wrong and you don’t know how to fix it. Obviously now I know it’s more than I ever expected it to be. I like that it is more.”
Olivia was a recipient of the 2016 Courier-Kiwanis Scholar-Athlete Award after investing innumerable hours of dedication to her sport and to her academics, both of which made her so exceptional.
In addition to honoring the top scholar-athletes, the Bucks County Courier Times and the Levittown-Bristol Kiwanis Club donated funds for college scholarships as part of the Dick Dougherty Memorial Scholarship Fund. This event his become an annual rite of the Spring and a chance to pay tribute to some of the best and brightest young adults, like Olivia, that this area has to offer.
In her “free” time, Olivia works at the “Grounds For Sculpture” situated on the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds, for the internationally renowned artist/founder, Navy veteran Seward Johnson in Hamilton Township. She also treasures the times spent with her family, especially her young cousins.
What keeps this athlete fueled? Chicken is her favorite food.
What does your Mom make that you really like? “Mom’s not really a very good cook.” Olivia’s grandmother, "Mom Mom", lives with them and “she can cook”.
Her favorite food haunts in the Borough? “Bristol Stop Deli has the best soup and I like Italian Family Pizza.”
Her graduation party will be held in the Centre for the Arts on Mill Street.
Olivia’s mother is an R.N. at the NJ State Prison and her maternal grandmother, Kathleen Margaret Spingler earned her Masters in Human Services [MHS] at Lincoln University, retiring as the Director of The Lenape Valley Crisis Center in Lower Bucks.
Her caring family has apparently successfully molded a very kind and compassionate Olivia.
“Not sure about the exact field, but I want to help juveniles.”
One of her all-time favorite books, a powerful, age-old story with a resonance centered on that intangible, steadfast bond between a mother and child, is “Love You Forever”.
A shout out and thank you to Mrs. Karen Pezza who read this to all of her students.
Hard work, accomplishment, and recognition are vital factors in positive self-image. Olivia’s determination and dedication are powerful tools that will continue to help her dreams come true.
Thank you, Olivia for giving historic Bristol on the Delaware your BEST SHOT!
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