No matter how fast Jacob Gizzi runs, his brother Sean will always be there with him.
And no matter how far Sean Gizzi jumps, his brother will always be there to help with the landing.
Jacob and Sean Gizzi are both track and cross country stars at Father Judge High School, and the pair are among the best in the Catholic League at what they do.
Jacob is a distance runner in track, Sean is a pole vaulter. Both also compete on the Crusaders cross country team.
It’s always good to have a workout partner, but these two have been brothers and best friends since birth, and they use their bond to help each other get the most out of their workouts. And it pays off in results.
“My brother and I have always been competitive with each other,” Jacob said. “We always try and be better than one another so it pushed me to really push myself and not slack off.
“I have always been on the same sports team with my brother so seeing him do great in what he does it really motivates me in what I am doing.”
It helps that while they’re competitive with each other, in track they now compete in different events.
That makes it easier to pull for each other.
“Being in basically opposite events has been a fun experience,” Sean said. “I didn’t want to follow his shadow since he was better at distance, so I found success in pole vault.
“He has pushed me to keep competing to the best of my ability, and now we both have made great success on both sides of the track.”
That bond goes far beyond sports.
The brothers grew up without their parents in the picture.
They have been very lucky in terms of living with their grandparents, and also credit their aunt with helping them a lot.
The boys learned to rely on the family that loves them, and luckily they know they have a tag team partner in their sibling.
“Growing up living with my grandparents has been a challenge that me and my brother had to overcome together,” Sean said. “Without a mother or father growing up me and Sean realized we need to always be there for each other and make sure we are doing OK with any negative situation.
“This childhood has not stopped me from becoming the best version of myself because my grandparents believed that I had potential when no one else did and I am extremely grateful for that.”
Their family didn’t just help raise them, but their aunt had a huge impact on their athletic careers. If not for her, they likely wouldn’t be starring in three sports.
“My aunt encouraged me to give running a try in fourth grade and I stayed with it since,” Jacob said. “The environment of track/cross country felt more where I belonged from other sports I’ve done. Running also had me compare myself to myself. It instilled discipline and positive habits into my everyday life.”
It’s been a long career, but now the boys are headed into their final fall season at Judge, and big things are on the horizon.
First up is finishing up what they started at Judge.
“A goal for me is to get First Team All-Catholic this fall and qualify for the state championship in fall, winter and spring,” Jacob said. “As a team for cross country, Judge has never sent all of varsity to the state championship so that would be amazing to be a part of.
“An indoor track goal for the team is our distance medley relay, we set a school record last season in this so a goal of mine has been to break the record again and to medal at the state championship.”
“My main personal goal for the upcoming track season is to make it back to states and break the school record,” Sean said. “My team goal is to sweep the PCL in pole vault.”
They have similar goals after high school as well.
Both hope to continue their athletic careers, and are leaning toward medicine. Jacob wants to become a physical therapist, Sean eyeing a career as a trainer.
Both will be doing it as proud Judge graduates.
“The Judge team feels like family, especially the distance guys since we practice together 10 months a year,” Jacob said. “The best part with the team is at meets everyone is always cheering for each other even when they don’t have to be at the meet anymore or could be relaxing waiting for their next event.
“My coach has really helped make sure we act as a team and not be strangers. Every guy on the team knows that we don’t run for yourself but for each other and it really feels like a family.”
“It’s more than a team for us,” Sean said. “I have found my second family with this team. All we want is to see the other improve. I would not be where I am now without some of my teammates pushing me to be better.”
A great second family. Just like he has a great first family.
“I have never had anything handed to me in my entire life. Me and my brother both had to work for everything,” Sean said. “Growing up without a father or mother has been hard without someone to call a role model.
“The rest of my family has been amazing to us, especially my grandparents who took us in and gave us an opportunity to succeed in life. In the beginning all we had was each other and that is all we could ask for. I couldn’t ask for anyone different.”