The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

October 20, 2013


Bodybuilder draws strength from son, faith

By Tom Davidson
Herald Staff Writer

SHENANGO VALLEY — Moms have a knack for being jills-of-all-trades.

They’re there for us on good days and bad days and their job is never really done.

Eight-and-a-half-year-old Gavin Rose has an especially special mom in Monica Rose, who’s always been more than a mother to him.

He gives her two thumbs up on a recent rainy afternoon in the lounge of the Shenango Valley YMCA.

His mom’s taking time out of her schedule to talk about herself, something she doesn’t readily revel in, but something she’s earned by way of winning the Ms. Fit Body and Women’s Bodybuilding Lightweight Class on Sept. 28 in the Cardinal Classic body-building competition in Austintown.

“I’m dedicated to it,” she said of body-building, which started as a hobby and has bloomed into something more.

Beyond her musculature, Rose is a foremost mom, and for Gavin and others who know her she can most accurately be described as a wonder woman, because she’s also the sole woman on patrol at Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Department and she’s also been acclaimed as an Iraq War veteran who was honored at this year’s Mercer Memorial Day 500.

“It’s pretty incredible to watch,” Rose’s boyfriend Rocco Mitolo said of her accomplishments. “Watching her from a third-party perspective, I think she does a good job.

“All of her spare time goes to Gavin,” he said.

She also devotes considerable energy to living a healthy and fit lifestyle in the coffee-swilling, doughnut-munching and Basilone Margie dog-wolfing world of being a Farrell-based policewoman.

“I think it’s awesome, it’s something you want to showcase,” Southwest Chief Riley Smoot said of Rose.

“It’s something when you look at one of your own and look at what she’s accomplished,” Smoot said. “What she goes through and what she eats and how she trains.”

She admits she gets razzed for her healthy diet, which generally includes fresh vegetables, three kinds of fish, greens and egg whites.

“I can’t go a day without egg whites she said.

She eats chicken as well and recently added turkey, but only because it’s a proven source of protein needed to build her muscles.

She does circuit and high-intensity interval training along with traditional lifting to build her body. She trains at World of Fitness in Niles, Ohio, and also works out at the Shenango Valley YMCA, the Buhl Community Recreation Center and Anytime Fitness.

“We have a home gym,” as well, she said, and Gavin’s often a workout partner.

Her son shares her healthy diet and he’s a green belt in karate.

He keeps her busy when she’s not working and when she’s not with him, she’s at the gym training, in between “trying to get a little bit of sleep,” she said.

She works six days on, then has two days off on varying turns at Southwest, where she enjoys “helping people,” as a police officer.

Working out is “king of like my therapy,” she said.

She doesn’t drink or smoke and if she and Mitolo get out for date night, they’re sipping water.

She’s a member of Grace Chapel Community Church and credits her faith and family with helping to hold it all together.

Her sister is Hermitage Dr. Michelle Thompson.

They were raised in Sharon by Marrianne Maurice, herself a single mom.

“There are days when I get discouraged and stressed out,” she admits.

When that happens, her mom will remind her that she once did the same thing -- but with two daughters.

“Faith keeps me sane,” she said of her church.

Rose was working out earlier this year when she was asked if she’d considered competing.

Until then, she hadn’t but she entered the INBF Cardinal Classic and started training more intensely.

On the day of the competition, urged on by Gavin, she ate their favorite treat: a Daffin’s chocolate bar, just before taking the stage.

It worked as a good luck charm, she said.

Now, she’s setting her sights higher as she’s earned a pro card and can compete for cash.

Her heroine in the sport is Dana Linn Bailey who just won Miss Olympia.

“I guess she inspired me,” Rose said.

She hasn’t picked her next competition, but plans to do so by spring.

Eating healthy and exercise have turned into a way of life for Rose and her son.

“Our lifestyle has changed for the better,” she said.