Zack Golditch won’t let anything stop him from going to football practice, even a gunshot wound.
The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Colorado State football recruit told his mother, Christine, he was going to Gateway High School football practice on Friday, despite the fact he had a stray bullet pass through his neck a few hours earlier during the mass shooting at the Century 16 theater in Aurora.
Needless to say, his mother kept him home.
“He said ‘just because I have a gunshot wound, doesn’t mean I can’t go to practice,’” Christine Welch-Golditch told the Aurora Sentinel about her son, who was home after being treated briefly at Aurora Medical Center South. “That’s just the way Zack is, he wanted to show others that there’s no reason they shouldn’t come to practice. I just told him ‘you can’t do that honey.’”
Golditch, his sister Kaitlyn and football teammates Jack Engelson and Devin Johnson among others were attending the premier of the anticipated “Dark Knight Rising” movie — the first midnight movie Golditch had ever gone to — and they took seats a few rows from the front of Theater 8, which is adjacent to Theater 9 where suspect James Holmes reportedly opened fire.
Ten to 15 minutes into the movie, during an action scene that involved an exchange of gunfire, Golditch felt a sting on the left side of his neck and thought he had been grazed by a small firecracker had been ignited behind him. He jumped up and rushed out of the theater.
Seeing nobody in the lobby, he went outside and found some construction workers on Sable Boulevard, who were able to help him stop the bleeding before he was taken to the hospital by a police officer.
“We were just watching the movie and it sounded like some blackcats went off behind my head; I had no idea what happened,” Golditch told the Sentinel. “It wasn’t until an hour later when I was at the hospital and it was like ‘I got shot, wow.’”
Golditch’s mom couldn’t quite believe the words that were coming out of her son’s mouth when he called her on the phone.
“We’re still in shock; I thought he was joking when he called and told me,” she said. “I was talking to him and said ‘if you got shot, how can talk?’ I was imagining right in the throat or the worst case scenario. He said ‘you need to come here’ and then a cop put him in a car and took him to the hospital.”
At Aurora Medical Center South, Golditch underwent a CAT scan, where it was revealed the bullet hadn’t hit anything vital and just passed out the back. It could have been much worse as Welch-Golditch found out.
“The doctor said he is lucky, if the bullet had come over a little bit farther, it would have hit a vertebrae,” she said. “It was absolute chaos, the hospital did a good job of keeping people informed. The hospital staff was amazing.”
Golditch was released and was feeling better at home a few hours later.
“I’m feeling pretty good, although I can’t really feel my ear and a little above it,” Golditch said. “I’m not sure which way the bullet came and entered or exited, but I have a wound right below the earlobe and another at the bottom of the hairline.”
All things considered, he was in good spirits and thought about going to Gateway football practice before his mom stopped him.
“I thought ‘Ok, it’s not that bad,’ it’s just a real deep tissue wound, so I thought I’d go to practice and show everyone no excuse to not come to practice,” Golditch said. “It was something I was going to do to have fun with it.”
Last week, Golditch and his Gateway teammates competed in the annual Hog Wars strength competition between Aurora prep linemen. In the spring, Golditch won the Class 5A state championship in the discus at the state track meet.
Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-750-7555