BY SARA LIVINGSTON
Daily Sports Writer
Published March 8, 2005
“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail” was the caption under fifth-year senior captain Chris Gatti’s high school yearbook picture, and nothing could describe Gatti’s dedication and intense work ethic better.
Without uttering more than a word, Gatti affects his teammates and coaches every day, whether it be through his grueling workout routine and tenacity in the gym or his ability to put the team first and help his teammates whenever necessary.
“Gatti is the first person to walk into the gym every day, and he is always the last one to leave,” junior Justin Laury said. “Seeing him working out all of the time inspires and motivates me, and it makes me want to work harder.”
“Fitting” is the word senior co-captain Geoff Corrigan used to describe Gatti’s three consecutive years as team captain. At the start of every season, the team votes on who the captains will be, making it something of a popularity contest. It is also an honor that Chris has received every year since he was a redshirt junior.
“It shows how he carries himself in a way that everyone respects,” junior Andrew DiGiore said. “It shows how his personality affected even the upperclassmen when he was just a sophomore.”
From his shaved head to his ability to take a beating and get right back up again, Gatti is the team’s soldier, a nickname the team feels suits him better than any other. During practices and meets, Laury has been known to yell, “I need a soldier, Gatti” from the Destiny’s Child song, letting Gatti know it’s time to step it up. But, it’s Gatti that is causing all of his teammates to step up their level of training.
“It stems from his whole persona,” junior Gerry Signorelli said of Gatti’s nickname. “He’s the quiet humble guy who is real tough, and he never whines about everything, and he just keeps you working hard.”
No matter what Gatti is doing, be it his mechanical engineering homework or high bar routine, he sticks with it until everything is perfect, refusing to settle for anything less.
“Whatever he is doing, he will give 150 percent,” his mother Linda Gatti said. “He’s always been very, very focused, more so after his injuries. Chris is always trying to make up for what he might have missed because of an injury.”
After two wrist surgeries shortened both of his ulnas — one before his freshman year and the other during his redshirted junior year — it’s been Gatti’s love of gymnastics that has motivated him through lengthy rehabilitation periods.
“(Gymnastics is) the highlight of my day and it’s been that way for about 20 years now,” Gatti said, cracking a rare smile.
Gatti’s motivating e-mails, known for being at least three pages long, always seem to come at the right time and give the team the lift and support it needs to keep going and to stay on top.
“It’s my way of vocal leadership,” Gatti said. “I try to assess what the team is doing in the gym at that point and where we have to go both mentally and physically. It’s a motivational tool to help the guys work hard and have fun in the gym every day.”
When Gatti’s mother found out about her son’s e-mails and the pivotal role they have on the team’s development, she was delighted and proud of the niche her quiet son managed to find in a school of over 40,000 students.
“He has his ways,” she said. “He never tells me about what he does though, never wanting to take credit. It’s always for the team, whatever he does is always to help the team.”
In the practices after the e-mails are sent, the gymnasts always have a little extra “bounce” to their step and try a little harder — their way of letting Gatti know they appreciate what he is doing.
“When I get them, I read them and I want to go in the gym right away and work out,” Corrigan said. “I want to make sure I have a great practice the next day.”
Added DiGiore: “The e-mails show how much heart Chris has not only for himself but for the team, and that is just a different level of motivation — it’s from the heart and that just affects the entire team.”