Earning its second national championship in as many years, the Georgia Northwestern Technical College SkillsUSA team has yet another title to add to its collection.
Just 24 months after the college struck gold for the first time at the 2017 SkillsUSA National Championships, the Bobcats found the top of the medal stand once again. When the dust settled on the competition floor, GNTC’s TeamWorks squad stood high atop the podium in Louisville, Kentucky.
A quartet of gold medals now hang around the necks of GNTC TeamWorks squad members Ryan Banks (Whitfield County), Jesse Flanagan (Polk County), Gabriel Lopez (Bartow County) and Joel Paez (Whitfield County). They are the winners of the national title in the construction-based category.
TeamWorks is usually one of the most difficult areas to compete. This year was no exception with less than half of the national-qualifying teams even completing their projects.
“I am still trying to let it sink in that our GNTC team is the national champ,” said GNTC Construction Management Director and SkillsUSA Adviser Donny Holmes. “These four guys worked harder than any team before. They jelled together nicely as an actual team. If you can do that, that’s half the battle.”
SkillsUSA defines the TeamWorks category as one in which teams of four students are required to build a construction project that will demonstrate their ability to work together. Over a two-day period, the teams must construct an 8x8 structure complete with masonry, electrical, plumbing and carpentry details.
Holmes and his GNTC TeamWorks squads have been competing in SkillsUSA for the past four years. It was 2016 when the team became the first Georgia SkillsUSA crew to represent the Peach State at the national competition. The inaugural national qualifier won the bronze medal, taking third in the U.S. that year.
“We are proudly building a culture of success,” said Holmes. “I promote it in the classroom. I explain to everyone what is expected and what the responsibilities are between practices, as well as the actual state and national competitions. We have been doing this for a while now. Each year, I learn a little more that I can pass along to the next team. I’m just really proud of this team and their championship.”
“Each year, Georgia Northwestern has had excellent representation from our students and it is always exciting to have them be called to the stage,” said GNTC SkillsUSA Adviser Missy Mclain.
“Our national medalists compete against the best in the U.S. So, to be recognized on stage with a gold, silver or bronze medal is a huge honor for our students, the advisers, the college and the state of Georgia,” said Mclain.
Now, in its 55th year, the SkillsUSA National Competition saw more than 6,500 high school and collegiate qualifiers compete in front of nearly 1,500 judges in more than 100 categories ranging from Advertising Design to Welding. SkillsUSA is a national, nonprofit student organization that has developed more than 10 million workers through active partnerships between employers and educators across the nation.