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Zack Golditch, football recruit injured in Aurora movie theater shootings, is back on the field

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

On July 20, teenager Zack Golditch's life was turned upside down. A rising senior at Aurora (Colo.) Gateway High, Golditch was preparing for a senior school year and football campaign. Then, on a Thursday night in July, Golditch went with friends to the premiere showing of "The Dark Knight Rises."

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Gateway offensive lineman Zach Golditch, who was injured in the Aurora shooting — Denver Post

Gateway offensive lineman Zach Golditch, who was injured in the Aurora shooting — Denver Post

Hours later, Golditch was fleeing from the most infamous shooting in recent American history as one of 58 moviegoers who were injured beyond the 12 who were killed in the shooting. Golditch was struck directly in his neck by a bullet from suspected shooter James Holmes, leaving an open wound which bled all over the teen as he fled the theater. Miraculously, the bullet passed directly through the back of Golditch's neck, only brushing a nerve and making a clean exit.

As chronicled in detail by the Denver Post, Golditch recovered from the attack in time to start the full high school football preseason. Now, the senior offensive tackle -- who has committed to play at Colorado State -- is back on the field, raring to go despite two large patches covering the wounds on each side of his neck.

Still, it's hard for Golditch to escape the night that lingers as a vivid chapter in the annals of American horrors.

"At the time, I didn't grasp it," Golditch told the Post. "It was hard to believe that something like that could happen in your own community, especially to you. ... But not knowing what was going on helped me get through it.

"I put my hands over my ears and didn't know what was happening. I felt blood hitting my hand. I could see it. So I jumped over a row. I was sitting in the first row of the second section. As I'm running out, I can see blood dropping into my hand."

Like so many others, Golditch is attempting to return to a normal life and put the events of July 20 behind him. Perhaps fittingly, the first step in that journey was trying to get back in the swing of summer football training as quickly as possible. According to his coach at Gateway, the teen worried about missing a weightlifting session scheduled for the next morning on the night he was hospitalized for his gunshot wounds.

Now Golditch will get his chance to get back to life on the field, under the bright lights of Friday nights. Barring any major shock, he'll also get to attend Colorado State in fall 2013.

While the injuries he suffered in the shooting may take plenty more time to heal completely, Golditch is magnanimous enough to know that the pain inflicted on him may have even saved another theater goer's life. For that, he's even happy that he was the victim instead of someone else.

"I'm blessed," Golditch told the Post. "I guess I wasn't just grazed. It just went clean in and out, no shrapnel, just clean it out, no stitches because of the risk of infection. It's just a really deep cut is how I took it.

"Fortunately, I'm a pretty big guy. Did I save someone's life because it hit me? ... I'm taller, and I might have saved someone. I'm not complaining about it. I'm glad it kind of happened to me and not someone else."

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