Photo: Andrew McMurtrie. Twins Michael Gouge and Kelsey Gouge, rising seniors at Brookwood, have contributed to the Broncos' successes in several sports. Michael was the starting tight end on the state championship football team and also one of Brookwood's top basketball players. Kelsey is one of the state's best swimmers, finishing in the top four in her individual events the past three seasons.
It was undoubtedly an odd question, one that begged for an interesting answer.
If you were a kitchen appliance, what would you be?
Seated on opposite sides of the classroom as Brookwood freshmen, Kelsey and Michael Gouge jotted down their answers. Without hesitation, both went with blender and explained their logic with identical responses.
It's part of their twin connection.
"We're really close," Kelsey said of her relationship with her younger (by one minute) brother. "We've gotten a lot closer through high school. There are some freaky twin stuff that happens all the time. It's cool. I think it would be different if I had a girl twin. I like having a guy twin.
"If there's a 100 multiple choice question test, we'll miss the exact same questions. We'll think the same things. We'll eat the same things at different times, something that we'd never normally eat."
The Gouges, now rising seniors at Brookwood, grin when they recount all of those twin oddities, their similarities and their competitiveness. They share an intense focus on academics -- their mother Liz is an oncologist at Emory and their father Mike is director of Brookwood's community school program -- and they both keep GPAs just a shade under 4.0.
Neither twin can stand down time, which is evident in their schedules. Michael plays football, baseball and basketball for the Broncos and Kelsey trains year-round at SwimAtlanta, focusing on swimming a few years back after trying tennis, cheerleading, soccer and basketball.
They look similar enough to be brother and sister, though many are surprised that they're twins with Michael being 6-foot-2 and Kelsey closer to 5-6. Most people assume Kelsey is the older sister and her personality is more outgoing than her brother's. Her higher-volume conversations are long and flowing, while Michael's are quieter and more succinct.
"I think she's probably more social than I am," Michael said. "I guess it's because she's a girl."
In their own ways, the twins also have boosted the Broncos' athletic programs in their differing sports.
Kelsey has been a key performer for Brookwood's swimming and diving team, helping the team to second-, fourth- and second-place finishes the past three seasons at the state meet. The Broncos won two county titles during that span, getting three individual Gwinnett championships and five top-four individual finishes at state from Kelsey along the way.
She's hopeful of winning her first individual championship as a senior, but more importantly getting her team a state title.
"We've come really, really close (to the team title)," Kelsey said. "We'll probably be pretty strong next year. Lassiter lost a lot of seniors so I think we have a shot of winning again this year. I'm really excited about that."
Michael knows that winning feeling well. He was the starting tight end for Brookwood's Class AAAAA state championship football team last year, contributing to the program's first title since 1996.
He was a quarterback up until ninth grade, then grew into his role as a tight end/defensive end, the spots he played for the championship team.
"That was great," Michael said. "Working from January all the way through the summer was hard, but it all paid off in the end."
The work continues for him this summer as he balances football workouts and college camps with summer baseball. It's not a huge change from his usually hectic schedule after lettering in those two sports, as well as basketball, the past two years.
He isn't certain he'll play basketball as a senior as he decides whether to play football or baseball at the college level. Schools have shown him considerable interest in both -- he holds a football offer from Richmond and a baseball offer from North Georgia.
"I like both sports," Michael said. "It depends on the season for which one I like better. I like them both when I'm playing them."
There's still a slight possibility that the siblings will attend the same college, but much of it depends on whether Michael picks football or baseball. And Kelsey is pretty wide open on her options to swim at the next level, eagerly awaiting Friday when college coaches can speak to her directly over the phone.
The more likely scenario is that the Gouges will go their separate ways for college, a big change from Brookwood when they regularly have the same classes and the same lunch period. They may have to test their twin telepathy at longer distances in the future.
"We're pretty close," Kelsey said. "We're really good friends. I think it's different because he is a guy and I can't really talk to him about everything. But if I need help or need something, he's always there for me and I'll always be there for him."