We recently caught up with Hall of Famer and recently married Justin Gomes to see how he is doing. Justin was a key driver in the Yellow Jacket lacrosse resurgence culminating in a 2004 SELC championship and first trip to the MCLA national tournament.
Justin, Congratulations on being recently married! How did you meet your wife, where was the ceremony and where did you do on your honeymoon?
We met in Connecticut after I got out of the Army. I was working as an engineer for a company that designed and built power plants, and she was a new doctor suffering through her second year of orthopedic surgery residency. It was tough fitting things around her schedule for a while, but we made it work. I was used to crazy schedules, which probably helped. The wedding was up on the mountain in Vail, CO – pretty amazing place. GT lax alums Bryant Jarrell and Rob Jacquette were groomsmen, and we also had bunch of other Georgia Tech laxers in attendance. My wife Jamie actually played on the women's team at UC Santa Barbara, so we had a few of their early 2000's players at the wedding too. We didn't do a honeymoon, at least not yet. We do a lot of traveling anyway, so we're not in any rush.
Fantastic! Looking back, where are you from originally and at what High School did you play Lacrosse?
I'm originally from Richmond, VA, and I played for Trinity Episcopal School. I picked up lacrosse somewhat late as a junior in high school. I'd run track in the spring for a few years, but some friends convinced me to give lacrosse a try. Looking back, it was a good switch.
What did you get your degree in at GT and how did you choose the school?
I got my degree in aerospace engineering. I picked Georgia Tech for the academics. They were, and still are one of the top aerospace schools in the country, so it was a pretty easy decision.
What are you doing now career wise and what led you to this point?
While at Georgia Tech, I decided to join Army ROTC, so I commissioned and entered active duty as a lieutenant shortly after graduation in 2006. I spent most of my career in the Army as an engineer and, later, a Special Forces officer. It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times, as they say. But overall, I wouldn't trade the experience it gave me for anything. I got to live in Germany for a couple years, climbed mountains in Afghanistan, and got halfway decent at a couple foreign languages. Still, nine years and 4 deployments later, I decided that I wanted to use my engineering degree, so I made the tough choice to leave the Army as a Captain. I spent a year in the energy sector in Connecticut before heading to graduate school at Columbia University where I received an MBA and an MS in Mechanical engineering. I also managed to land back in the aerospace world as some old Georgia Tech lacrosse connections helped me to get a couple internships at SpaceX in Los Angeles.
I've always loved the outdoors though, so after grad school in New York and summers in LA, my wife and I decided we wanted to move to Colorado. Luckily, the Denver-Boulder area is teeming with aerospace jobs, and I now work as a project engineer helping to develop satellite payloads for Ball Aerospace.
What are the special challenges with your current position and what do you enjoy the most?
The hardest part is keeping up with the technology involved in what we do. There are some really brilliant minds there creating some truly unique hardware, and as a project engineer, I'm expected to have a broad-based understanding on both the technical and business side of things. Plus, Ball is a great company which means that business is booming, so there is a lot of work to get done.
I'd say I enjoy the culture the most. Being in Boulder means that not only do we have exceptional engineers, but we have exceptional engineers who love the outdoors - lots of skiing, rock climbing, and mountain biking friends. After 3 years spent mostly in New York City, this is a welcome change. Also, although the local Colorado schools supply a fair bit of the talent, my department has more engineers from Georgia Tech than anywhere else.
How was your lacrosse experience at Tech and have any favorite memories?
The lacrosse team basically became my family in Atlanta. We shared the same interests and had each other's backs. It was a period when stronger players were coming in and really starting to take the game seriously, so it was a lot of fun.
My favorite memory would probably be beating Florida State on the way to the SELC championship in 2004. We were a thin team that year. We'd lost a couple key players, so we knew it was going to be a tough season for us. On the other side, the Seminoles were building a strong program that had been a challenge for us over the years. In fact, we had lost to them in the regular season. But we pulled it together in the semifinals to get the win and go on to win the championship!
How has the GT and Lacrosse experience helped you in your career?
Teamwork is a valuable skill anywhere and having the opportunity to practice it with that special group of guys was great. Add in the Georgia Tech reputation as an engineering center of excellence, and I don't think I could have asked for more. Balancing the commitments of lacrosse, ROTC, and school on my own was also a really useful learning experience.
To the guys playing now, enjoy it while it lasts because it'll be over before you know it. That sounds cliché, but looking back, it feels pretty true.
What do you think of the current team?
They are truly impressive. Watching the live streams, it's hard to believe how far the team has come. The guys playing now are so good, and the team has so much depth. They're definitely better than we were, but honestly, they make my generation look good because they are what people think about when they think "GT Lacrosse" these days. Go Jackets!