NORTH KITSAP – When the pandemic hit and his other activities were put on hold, Giavanni Still took a golf swing. “Gee,” as friends and family knew him, hit golf balls in the yard with clubs he bought at a fairground sale and became a regular at the White Horse Golf Club near his home near Kingston.
He stayed true to the sport. Although he had only recently got into golf, Derek and Lindsey Still’s teenage son was soon playing tournaments and finding professional ambitions. He told others he would one day play golf at UCLA.
Derek estimated that his son would play 80 holes a week and spend an additional 20 hours on the driving range perfecting his game. The two would spend moments together, traveling to tournaments, spending time in hotels, and taking hiking courses. Derek served as the tournament caddy.
“I almost have to call it the best time to raise Gee because we spent so much time just walking and talking,” he said. “It was just him and me who only shared moments. I keep telling my wife that I didn’t think I’d have the opportunity to get to know my son so well. It was a great experience and opportunity for me. I will really miss that. “
An ATV crash on a trail near Little Boston on Father’s Day last month shortened the 14-year-old’s life. Gee did not respond after the crash and was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. He died in hospital two days later on June 22nd.
A life in memory
At a memorial service attended by family and friends at the Gateway Fellowship Church in Poulsbo last week, those close to Gee exchanged memories and tears. Some wore hats with his nickname on the front and remembered small moments of bright, youthful joy and bright smiles.
Recalling playing with her own child, Gee’s aunt Holly Elmore described it as a “bundle of luck and hair”.
“All you could see was a strand of hair zooming across the yard with a symphony of giggles from both of you,” she said. “Just the cutest sound a mother and aunt could ever hear. I will always hold on to that beautiful sound of your laughter, the brilliance of your smile and the soul-penetrating light that will accompany us all for the rest of our lives. “
At the memorial, family friend Jason Trichler remembered moments as a basketball coach, rounds of golf with Gee, and described the teenager as someone with an “old soul” who could connect with people of all ages and backgrounds.
“When you passed me golfing, you probably told me so, but when I had a bad drive or hit a ball in the trees at White Horse, you always encouraged me,” said Trichler. “You haven’t once felt me as an inferior or bad player, which I clearly am. You literally make me feel good about being who I am, and that’s a special talent. “
Trichler painted a picture of a close family: “From kayaking with your mother in front of the house to asking your father to be your caddy for all of your tournaments, when you are 14 you always spend time with them. Do you know how rare that is? Teenagers are looking for ways to avoid spending time with their parents instead of spending more time. Thank you that we were all allowed to spend the time with you, we are all better. “
Friends and family have described a youth with a bright future: Gee showed leadership skills, was academically adept, an outdoor enthusiast.
“Gosh, not being here is heartbreaking,” said Derek, pondering his son’s life. “He was just such a great kid. I can go on and on and on, but he was an amazing, polite boy and had the respect of all children, all adults. “
“He was out here in rain or shine”
Gee played a number of sports – basketball, football, baseball – before joining golf with a passion “ten times” greater than what he had for any other sport, Derek said.
He dedicated himself to this and was spotted alone in the rain on the driving range of the White Horse Golf Club or jumped in for adult teams. He was a familiar face on the course. A memorial there will honor Gee’s life.
“This was his second home and we loved having him close by,” said club executive director Bruce Christy.
At a U.S. children’s golf event in May, Gee finished fifth in his age group after shooting an 80 on Lake Spanaway’s 18-hole golf course, which is double given he had only recently started the sport was impressive.
“He just got addicted to it, and he was out here in the rain or shine, the boy hit balls,” Christy said. “And I’m not just talking about one bucket, he went through three or four buckets when he was outside. He went from being a hitting ball kid to being obsessed with the game and just loved the game to the point where he was a few weeks ago he shot 80 for the first time, which is a great achievement. “
Gee had recently graduated from Kingston Middle School and was looking forward to joining the Kingston High School golf team. An annual golf tournament at White Horse Golf Club and a memorial fund will help increase Gee’s influence in the community by raising funds for the high school golf team and young golfers. The first tournament will take place on August 7th.
“There are so many children who can and can do it, so this will be a way to show Gee’s love of the game, influence, and give back to the community,” said Derek. “It would be something Gee would be proud of, if he could he would. He would have been a professional golfer, I could really see him coming back to the community and pouring his heart out to every young child who wanted to do what he does. “
For more information on the Memorial Fund, visit BeLikeGeeGolfMemorial.com.
Nathan Pilling is a reporter for Bainbridge Island, North Kitsap, and Washington State Ferries for the Kitsap Sun. He can be reached at 360-792-5242, email@example.com or on Twitter at @KSNatePilling.
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