Tech Valentines: Jacket athletics’ dynamic duos

McKissock, Bergmann, Kaiser, Tippett and Dowd (left to right) celebrate between points in the volleyball team’s October 8 sweep of Florida State // Photo courtesy of GT Athletics

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, this time of year focuses around those special and unbreakable bonds. Similarly, for successful teams in sports, there are always special relationships between players that lead to the betterment of the team.

With the recent success of the Jackets basketball team, one of the first duos that comes to the forefront is the pairing of point guard Jose Alvarado and forward Moses Wright. Alvarado has emerged as the heart and soul of the Yellow Jackets. Whenever the team is in need of a big play on the offensive or defensive side of the court, Alvarado is there to make the play for them. He can always be counted upon to make the big steal or the physics-defying basket.

Similarly, Wright can be counted on to make the big play inside the paint. His hustle can always be seen, and he has become the team’s leading rebounder as a result. This was emphasized as he fought through an injury in their recent comeback win against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. On the offensive side, Wright is always there to make the right play. Alvarado and Wright share a strong connection and as a result, Alvarado always knows right where Wright can be found.

The identity of this team has become their defensive aggression and ability to force turnovers, due in large part to this duo that are both top 5 in the ACC in steals. Alvarado is there to make the defensive play on the perimeter and Wright backs him up inside. The play of this pair has been complementary and led to the success of the team. Their connection will become all the more important as they get set to mount the momentum towards March.

Moving from the hardwood to the gridiron, the promising young duo of quarterback Jeff Sims and running back Jahmyr Gibbs is found. While the Jackets’ record may not have been favorable this year, there were positives during the season, beginning with the improvement of Sims. He improved in many areas throughout the season, most notably in his decision-making. Towards the end of the year, it was visible how he would look to make the best play rather than just run the ball when the play broke down.

Additionally, one of the shining moments for this offense was the way Gibbs emerged in just his freshman year. He has already become one of the most exciting running backs to watch. He has the unique ability to turn a negative play into a positive one. Perhaps one of the biggest factors in this quarterback-running back relation is that whenever a play breaks down, Sims can count on Gibbs to be there for him.

In games when it seemed like the offense was becoming stagnant, Sims could always find Gibbs on screens or checkdowns that could result in big yardage and become the offense’s spark. While their freshman season cannot be characterized as flawless, they both showed promise for the years ahead.

Similar to Alvarado and Wright, the tandem of Sims and Gibbs share that promising on-field chemistry that has been and will be the driving force for the success of the offense.

Volleyball is a highly team-oriented sport with the setter always needing to be on the same page as their hitters. The Tech volleyball team is one of the best in the ACC at these connections, led by Matti McKissock, the defending setter of the year in the ACC. McKissock’s play has led to her main hitters always being in position to make the play. It is equally important to turn the perfect set into the best hit.

She can always count on either of the team’s exceptional outside hitters, Julia Bergmann and Mariana Brambilla, or middle blocker Kayla Kaiser, to convert the set into points for the team with a perfectly positioned hit. This exceptional combo has become a nightmare for opposing teams because of how in sync each of these players are with one another. The chemistry helped the team finish their fall season on a seven-game win streak.

Because of their on-court chemistry, they have been able to rack up numerous individual accolades. Bergmann holds the title of reigning Freshman of the Year, Brambilla is 5th in ACC for hitting percentage and Bergmann and Brambilla are each in the top 5 in the ACC in numerous statistical categories including total points.

After taking closer looks at these programs within Jacket athletics, an overarching theme shines above: the sense of camaraderie these players show. Wins and losses change from year to year but the team spirit and bonds these players make are what unite them forever.