Temple gymnastics sophomore excels with greater role

Monica Servidio has set career-highs and competed in the all-around seven times.

Sophomore all-around Monica Servidio swings from the bar at the Pink Meet against Penn, West Virginia University and the University of Bridgeport on Feb. 10 at the Palestra. | MATT ALTEA / THE TEMPLE NEWS

As Temple University women’s gymnastics practice wound down last Tuesday, Monica Servidio jumped on the uneven bars. Suddenly everyone’s eyes were on her. 

Cheers of, “Let’s go Mon!” and, “You got this, Mon!” filled the room as coach Josh Nilson barked instructions with his head up and his hands on his knees, watching intently. 

The sophomore planted the landing, and the gym went wild. 

Servidio has established herself as one of Temple’s most valuable gymnasts. She has competed in all four events — vault, bars, beam and floor — in seven of eight meets to score in the all-around competition.

This season, Servidio has set personal bests in the vault, bars, beam, floor and all-around events. On Feb. 5, Servidio was named the Eastern College Athletic Conference Gymnast of the Week for the second time in her career.

“Hearing everybody definitely helps a lot,” Servidio said after practice on Feb. 19. “You just know that your teammates are behind you, cheering for you, and that helps you to just do what you have to do and takes your mind off of things a little bit.”

Servidio competed in 10 meets last season but served as the all-around just twice. Avoiding nagging injuries and making adjustments, like changing her release on the bars, have helped her handle her increased role and greater responsibility, she said. She has also made internal improvements since her freshman year.

“I had to change my mentality and basically just take one event at a time and focus on them individually and not overwhelm myself with all of them at the same time,” Servidio said. “I just started trusting myself more and gaining more confidence as the preseason went on, so that’s really how it set up the foundation for this year.”

Nilson developed a plan for Servidio called the “Impact Schedule” through which she only trains twice a week. Tuesday is her “heavy” day, while the second day of the week is a lighter workout. 

“A lot of gymnasts think they need to train four, five days a week but then they run out of steam,” Nilson said. “But with her, every weekend she’s healthy, she’s fresh and she’s ready to go.”

Servidio has two more seasons left to lead the Owls. She hasn’t let any success get to her head, and she prefers to focus on working hard and helping her teammates instead of achieving individual glory, Nilson said. 

While she doesn’t have long-term plans for her collegiate career, Nilson does. Nilson believes Servidio could represent Temple at the NCAA championships in Fort Worth, Texas, on April 19 and 20, he said.

“It would be absolutely massive,” Nilson added. “It would be huge for her, huge for Temple, but it’s totally doable. It’s absolutely realistic.”

Nilson saw Servidio’s potential right away just from her stats in a limited freshman season. Servidio only competed in the vault following injuries sustained in mid-February 2018. But with the right plan in place, Nilson knew Servidio’s sophomore season, and the rest of her career, could be special.

“If you look at stats, it’s hard to be an all-arounder,” Nilson said. “…It’s because every day in here she works her tail off. All preseason, she worked her tail off. She never complained. And that’s amazing for a coach.”

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