The Creswell Chronicle -

By Gini Davis
The Creswell Chronicle 

Hundreds gather to mourn, celebrate Gio Mediati

 

July 4, 2019

Gini Davis/The Creswell Chronicle

Coach Tyler Main presents a bat signed by school and Babe Ruth baseball teammates to Gio Mediati's parents, Laura and Rick, during a memorial service for the 15-year-old held Saturday on the high school baseball field.

The young pitcher's death – at 15, in an accidental drowning June 13 – left family, friends and teammates reeling, and all came together June 29 on Creswell High School's baseball field to share memories and celebrate the life of Giovanni ("Gio") Bruno Mediati.

Gio was universally described by speakers as loving, caring, positive, unique and fun, a friend and example to everyone in his orbit – and his gravitational pull was exceptionally strong and undiscriminating.

"He cared for everyone, liked everyone, no matter who they were; he was always a friend to all," CHS Principal Adam Watkins said.

After transferring from O'Hara Catholic School to Creswell for eighth grade, Gio immediately attracted a circle of friends as wide and devoted "as if he grew up with these kids from day one," related Babe Ruth baseball coach Eldon Hodge, describing Gio as "an honor and a privilege to coach."

Determined to earn a baseball scholarship, Gio's work ethic was such that "he set the tone for everybody else, as a freshman," said CHS coach Tyler Main. "Anything I asked him to do, he did it – more, better and faster than I'd even request to have it done."

In a letter read by Hodge, Babe Ruth coach Brandon Bowers described Gio as "a great and humble baseball player and an even better person"; his son, Tyler wrote that his teammate was "one of the hardest workers I've ever seen; he'll forever be like a brother to me."

Perhaps the most emotional moment came when Main presented a bat signed by nearly everyone in the Creswell baseball program, and even some former O'Hara teammates, to Gio's parents Laura and Rick, and brother Giuseppe ("Joe").

Even in this time of grief and loss, "there is joy in celebrating Gio's life, and comfort and healing in coming together to remember him," observed New Hope Baptist pastor, Rob Walker, who officiated the service.

Walker cited Matthew 14:12-13 for John the Baptist's disciples' response after his death: "They stop their other responsibilities, they come together to honor him, and they bring their grief to Jesus," he said. "There's something in us that ties us together. We're told to bear each other's burdens and find comfort in each other."

And amidst the tears, there was joy in celebrating Gio – even affectionate laughter as coaches and friends recalled his obsession with "bling" and fashionable shoes, the San Francisco Giants, Pepsi and Taco Bell; and his many nicknames: "Kirby" (because, Hodge said, he was "a human vacuum cleaner" on the field, efficiently scooping up balls); "GQ" (because, Main said, "he always looked like he stepped off a movie scene or out of a photo shoot"); and "Italian Stallion," for his sense of style and Italian heritage.

"We didn't have the best season," Main noted, "but Gio always had a smile on and chains poppin'."

Close friends remembered him as "able to light up a room" (Emma Maness); an artist and "hopeless romantic" who said "I love you for you, flaws and beauties all the same" (Addie Garzanelli, his girlfriend for three months); someone who brought a 32-ounce Pepsi to school every day, "knowing most of it would be given away to friends" (Gabby Halgren); and who habitually went to Taco Bell after games – "and if they didn't have Pepsi, he'd make a second stop somewhere else, and sometimes even a third stop, until he found it" (Carter Kruger, who also read the touching poem, "If You Give a Boy a Baseball" in remembrance of Gio).

"I hope you feel as loved and cared for as we do," Gio's neighbor of eight years, Karinna Leonard, told her honored friend.

And of course, throughout the memorial, recalled in nearly every testimonial, there was baseball – Gio's "everything," after family, friends and faith.

Gini Davis/The Creswell Chronicle

Emma Maness shares special memories of her friend, Gio Mediati as Pastor Rob Walker (left) looks on; four more close friends (from left), Addie Garzanelli, Karinna Leonard, Gabby Halgren and Carter Kruger await their turn at the podium; and other friends of Gio's form a line beneath the platform.

Gio's beloved post-game Pepsi – plus hotdogs, chips and homemade treats – was served after the service, a spontaneous wiffle ball game broke out, and his CHS jersey number, 5, was everywhere: on baseballs painted on the dugout, on two large rocks at the school's entrance and on small rocks serving as paperweights for the share-a-memory cards guests were invited to fill out for the family; on the line of jerseys hanging on the dugout fence, and the jerseys and T-shirts worn by teammates and friends; on the baseball-shaped decorations near the stage and inside the dugout, where a video commemorating Gio's life played in a loop and mementos were displayed on a table.

But nowhere was No. 5 more proudly showcased than in photos of jersey-clad Gio himself – on the stage, in the dugout, framed on a table inside the field entrance, and on baseball cards with his picture on the front and the "stats of his life" on the back:

"Giovanni Bruno Mediati ... was an exceptional student, classmate, teammate, friend, and stellar baseball player. His outgoing, athletic, and bright personality touched everyone he came in contact with. He had so many friends and was loved because he was always a friend to everyone and touched everyone's heart. ... He is loved and cherished by his family, teammates, and friends; and looked up to by so many. He will be dearly missed."

Stats any player would be proud to claim at the end of the game.

In memory of Gio Mediati, those who knew him could do no better than to strive to emulate the caring, kindness and positivity he brought onto the "field" wherever, whenever, with whomever he was.

 
 

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