At six years old, senior all-around competitor Julianna Roland wanted to compete in gymnastics at the collegiate level, and in eighth grade, while competing at Cherry Hill Gymnastics Academy in New Jersey, Temple University’s program was the team she wanted to be on.
“I wanted to come to Temple so early because it was close to my house,” Roland said. “I loved watching the team compete. It always looked like everyone was having so much fun and I wanted to be a part of that.”
Now, Roland, who has one more year of eligibility with Temple University gymnastics’ program, is looking to build on her 2020-21 season success by setting a career high in each event at the EAGL Championship and qualifying for NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Regionals.
Roland posted her career-highs on vault and beam with 9.925’s on Feb. 25 against North Carolina State. She also set the new school record on vault and became the third person in school history to score at least a 9.925 on beam.
She notched a career high of 9.900 on the floor at the EAGL Championships in the 2021-22 season.
“I really want to make it to regionals, and I really want to win EAGL,” Roland said. “That would be pretty cool, so not focusing on scores, but I would like to get bigger scores, I would like to end my career on that note.”
Last season, she was an NCAA Regional Qualifier on floor and vault. Roland was also named to the All-EAGL First Team and All-EAGL All-Tournament First Team. However, those accomplishments required a dedicated offseason.
After her success in the 2020-21 season, Roland intensified her training. She spent more time getting in reps on routines, while also mentally becoming stronger by pushing herself to new limits, Roland said.
“Work ethic wise, I mean, no one works harder than [Roland],” said head coach Josh Nilson.
Roland performs each skill on the floor before getting on the equipment and this helps prepare her to compete.
Roland didn’t originally start her collegiate gymnastics career as an Owl. When Roland attended Rancocas Valley Regional High School in Mount Holly, New Jersey, she committed to the University of Bridgeport because of the teaching program, she said.
After spending two seasons with the Knights, Roland found out Bridgeport was going to potentially shut down its gymnastics program, which led her to transfer, she said.
One coach who reached out to Roland in the portal was Nilson, who told her that there was a spot available on the team and they wanted her to join the program. She joined the Owls midway through her junior season, Nilson said.
“I found my love for gymnastics here again,” Roland said. “Competing here has given me the opportunity to find the love for that but also to grow not just with gymnastic skills, but also mentally and I think as a leader I’ve been able to grow this year.”
Roland is one of three captains on the team this season, alongside senior all-around competitor Ariana Castrence and graduate student all-around competitor Tori Edwards. She’s found her leadership in leading the group on beam, whether it’s huddling up and getting each other hyped or preparing each other to compete, she said.
“We kind of always joke about it that out of the three of us I’m the mom,” Roland added. “I’m the one that brings the medicine in, the snacks, but in the past couple of meets I’ve shown my leadership on beam by taking charge of beam and getting everybody calm, cool and collected.”
Roland wants to get back to the basics to prepare herself for the EAGL Championship, which means focusing on the little things, like her form and technique. Roland puts a strong emphasis on clean execution and details on her performance, she said.
“She’s very hardworking, she’s very determined, she’s a perfectionist like a lot of people in gymnastics are,” Castrence said. “But she gives a lot of attention to detail. She’s very just determined and driven and wants to really perfect every single little thing and fight for every single little tenth.”
Roland will look to carry her success and leadership into the EAGL Championships on March 19 in Washington, D.C., hoping to win the title in back-to-back years.
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