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Catching Up with Maggie Harding, THON Dancer and Women’s Volleyball Captain

It’s been quite the wild ride at THON so far, with only a few dancers beginning to show early signs of fatigue. Of the 707 dancers at THON this year, one is particularly familiar with working her body to its physical limit. Meet Maggie Harding, captain of the national champion women’s volleyball team and Treasurer of the Student-Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB).

Harding, fresh after a performing in the Pep Rally with her fellow teammates, looked cheerful and energetic as ever as she spoke to us, despite it being well into THON weekend.

Onward State: So, how did it feel to perform at the Pep Rally with your teammates?

Maggie Harding: I’ve performed in the Pep Rally every year since freshman year, but getting to perform in front of thousands of people, even if it’s for thirty seconds or a minute, is always incredible. It makes me proud to be a part of Penn State, athletics at Penn State, and a Penn State student. The Pep Rally is a blast every year.

OS: Who are your biggest supporters and what does it mean to you for them to be here with you this weekend?

MH: My parents, all my family, and my friends are my biggest supporters. You feel like you’re tired and then seeing someone who cares about you makes it easy.

OS: What do you anticipate will be the biggest challenge you’ll face?

MH: The fear of possibly hitting a wall and not having someone to push you through. You can tell when the crowd kind of dies down for a bit.

OS: If you could have anything brought to the floor to you right now, what would it be?

MH: …a foot massager. I just had garlic hummus so I’m pretty good on the savory end.

OS: On the topic of food, what has been the best and worst food you’ve been fed at THON so far?

MH: I liked the meatballs and pasta for the first meal. I wasn’t a fan of the cookies and sticky buns being considered a meal, though.

OS: How would you compare the physical strain of volleyball to dancing in THON?

MH: *Laughs* If I can survive four Russ Rose pre-seasons, dancing for 46 hours isn’t exactly a piece of cake but I can do it. Volleyball is explosive, and lasts an hour and a half. So dancing for 46 hours is much more continuous. Even when we have six hour volleyball practices, we get breaks.

Here, I feed off the energy of the kids. If the kids are having fun, that’s what’s important and that’s what we’re here for.

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About the Author

Yuka Narisako

Yuka legally immigrated to the United States via airplane in 1996 from the small island nation of Japan. Since then she has migrated throughout the country and now identifies herself as a senior majoring in Architectural Engineering. The Shandygaff is her Happy Place, though she was once kicked out of the establishment after breaking her shoe and screaming “I LOVE DAY DRINKING. I’M HAVING FUN.” Yuka is overly enthusiastic about life in general, but especially Ja Rule, Halloween, and the puffy black vest she purchased from the Gap. You can reach her at [email protected], or through Twitter @yukahontass.

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